The wait is over. After yet another long off-season following a fifth consecutive year of missing out on the NHL post-season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are set to kick off the 2010-11 season against their oldest rival, the Montreal Canadiens.
Both teams have undergone an off-season where – despite the lack of a full-scale overhaul – crucial moves were made to bring in key players or (in Montreal’s case) provide a better opportunity for players already in the organization. Gone from the 2009-10 Toronto lineup are Viktor Stalberg, Rickard Wallin and Keith Primeau, replaced by Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong, and Brett Lebda. In Montreal, the most impactful move was the trade of playoff hero Jaroslav Halak to St Louis in exchange for Lars Eller, a move which paves the way for Carey Price to assert his standing among starting NHL netminders.
An article in the London Free Press explains that the reasons for the earlier 7pm ET start times for home games this season: to cater to a younger audience and to allow for more efficient getaways in the case of a road game the following night. A slew of other small headlines including contract details for Komisarek, the Grabovski-Kostitsyn feud, and Justin Pogge.
The feeling as the Leafs embark on this year’s unrestricted free agency period is that Brian Burke is not enamored with the ’09 free agent class and will neither overpay in salary or term. It appears Burke’s focused on acquiring his high-end talent through trade.Â In regards to the long-rumoured Mike Cammalleri signing, the word right now is that he’s not on the radar although this is certainly subject to change should circumstances change.Â More likely, if Burke can move Kaberle and/or Kubina and sign Jonas Gustavsson, the approach will be to strengthen from the goal out and thus most money will be allotted to high-end D rather than forwards at this time.
In the MLSE land of unreasonable expectations, even a superstar troupe like Burke and Wilson will not be afforded another record breaking season; at least not if said record is a fifth consecutive season of playoff free hockey. Subsequently Burke is going to be looking for a catalyst to the rebuilding project come summer and the most obvious route will arrive in early July, not a week earlier in Montreal.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
image via maple leafs.com
The Maple Leafs look to extend their two game winning streak Tuesday night as they entertain the New Jersey Devils sans Martin Brodeur. Rookie Jeremy Williams looks to continue a streak of his own having scored in each of his first two appearances this season.
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#9 – RW Jimmy Hayes, 18, Boston College (NCAA)
Drafted: 2nd round, 60th overall in 2008
Strengths: Superb size and strength (6’5 210 lbs). Good skater for a player his size. High end offensive talent with quick hands around the net. Can be a very intimidating presence along the boards and in front of the net. Tons and tons and tons of potential.