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Yesterday was a big day in Leafs Nation. Â And I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s about time. Â While two teams are currently battling for the opportunity to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch, bide their time with the other half of the league who wasn’t fortunate enough to make into the NHL’s playoffs.
And while they have kept themselves busy, and Brian Burke has shown a penchant for rarely letting his team slip into the background, a lot of hype has been leading toward this time of year.
Even without a first-or second-round draft pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still making plenty of waves, and it appears Burke is fit to make an impression at the draft, whether he is selecting or not.
Which, although he would never admit it, would be the perfect way to steal the spotlight back from the doom and gloom position of Boston using the Leafs pick to select a potential franchise cornerstone.
Tomas Kaberle, long been rumoured to be on his way out of Toronto, may be inching closer and closer with each passing day. Â As the calendar flipped to June yesterday, and now with the entry draft and free agency now firmly in sight on the horizon, it appears Kaberle’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs is now being measured in days.
Lots of reading today: Gus chips in an Â analogical look at the NHL playoff series; Alex has your links with a look at potential Leaf Jussi Rynnas.
In what was Brian Burke’s first summer on the job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was clear from the get go that he put an onus on improving specialty teams, and also team defense. Â The brash Toronto GM made a lot of moves as it related to improving these areas, and on paper they looked like a sure recipe for change and improvement.
Now that the Leafs’ most important pending free agent — goaltender Jonas Gustavsson — has been signed to a two-year contract extension, it is time to take a look at their remaining free agent players.
Notably, the list of expiring contracts includes pending RFAs Nikolai Kulemin, Christian Hanson and John Mitchell. Pending UFAs on the Leafs’ roster include Wayne Primeau, Rickard Wallin, Jamie Lundmark, Garnet Exelby and Mike Van Ryn.
When Brian Burke became the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2008, Leafs Nation embarked on a new journey. Â A new beginning. Â With Burke at the helm, the Leafs organization finally had a general manager who had credentials. Â Who had a winning pedigree. Â Who had the exact type of attitude the Toronto market needed.
A man who wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone, and a man who wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big move that may set the team up for the better in the long term, a characteristic it seemed so many Leafs GM’s lacked in between the time of Fletcher’s first run, and Burke being christened as the new head of the front office.
Finally, Leafs fans were able to legitimately talk about the “Big O”, and they weren’t faking it either.
Brian Burke has done an outstanding job of refacing the Leafs organization in a very short period of time.Â I for one am predicting a very surprising season from the Leafs as early as next year or the year after, once again propelling them into the playoffs and a very respectable playoff drive.Â The cumulative effort of acquiring several players and prospects that are “NHL ready” is absolutely and positively an impressive feat.Â Acquiring a player with the pedigree of Dion Phaneuf for almost zero significant cost was sheer brilliance.Â His relentless pursuit of, and ultimate acquisitions of players like Bozak, Hanson and Gustavsson inspire the type of confidence and hope that has been lacking in this city and in this franchise for almost a decade.
Unrelated Update: New signing Brayden Irwin to play tomorrow night against Atlanta (link).
#36 in Blue and White is proving to be everything his number-sake Anton Stralman never became in Toronto. Hear me out, Andrew R.
Daymond Langkow was injured today in Calgary’s loss to the Minnesota Wild. He was shoved in the slot before taking a shot to the back of the neck. Langkow then laid dazed on the ice with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.
Random talking points on a variety of topics including Giguere’s shutout streak, a refreshing new attitude, the Schenn/Phaneuf connection, pending UFAs and more.
We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications. Â Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer. Â Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.
Dion Phaneuf was far and away the biggest name exchanging teams in the Toronto-Calgary deal on Sunday morning, and as a result, young defenseman Keith Aulie may have gotten a little overlooked in the shuffle. But make no mistake about it: Aulie was a significant piece in this trade for Brian Burke and the huge, imposing blueliner should figure prominently in the Maple Leafs’ defensive core of the future. Let’s take a look at what the newest Maple Leafs’ prospect could bring to the table in a few years time.
Prospect defenceman Keith Aulie:
“Aulie is a 6’6 defenceman playing for Abbotsford of the AHL. Our plans for Keith are for him to stay at the AHL level for the present, so he will report to the Marlies. This is a player who played on the national junior team and won a gold medal. Excellent skater for a big man, a guy we coveted and hard to work real hard to get into the deal. We think he’s going to be a really good NHL player down the road for a long time. We think right now, like Calgary did, that from a development standpoint, he’ll be better off logging big minutes in the American league.
To Toronto: Keith Aulie, Dion Phaneuf, Frederick Sjostrom
To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White
A second trade is expected to be announced shortly, involving J-S Giguere.
A shining example and further proof of New Jersey’s dominance recently. Even when blanked for the first time this season, the Devils still ended up with a win, the full two points, and Martin Brodeur extended his record string of shutouts.
With the World Junior Championship gold medal game taking centre stage tonight (7:30pm, TSN), Leafs’ fans can be forgiven for overlooking tonight’s matchup against an inconsistent Florida Panthers squad (7:00pm, Sportsnet).
Coming off a disastrous mini-road trip out West, featuring losses to the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames, the Maple Leafs will look to inject some confidence into their lineup with a victory against the visiting Panthers, who sit only 4 points ahead of the Leafs in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are one of three teams without a shutout this season. They have been shutout four times, allowing 15 goals. They’ve scored 98 goals in wins and a paltry 12 in losses. Of the 44 goals they’ve allowed in losses, 15 come by way of shutouts.
The latest takes on it’s infamy as the record-breaking shutout by a most deserving, Martin Brodeur.
The New Jersey Devils are one of five teams that have not been shutout this season. Brodeur’s three shutouts for the Devils this season set up and then smashed the all time shutout record.
In honour of the new shutout record at 104 – and counting – the following are the to-date shutouts and numbers in the NHL in 2009-10.
Highly-touted Maple Leafs’ prospect Nazem Kadri has made the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship team.
“London Knights centre Nazem Kadri, selected seventh overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in June, is also on the roster and is expected to be the team’s second-line centre.”
It took a while, but the Toronto Maple Leafs are finally starting to look comfortable on home ice, and on the ice in general, as one of their better overall team efforts led to a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Wednesday night in front of a joyful, loud crowd at the Air Canada Centre.
Jason Blake scored the winner with just under five minutes left in the third period as the Leafs skated away with a hard fought 3-2 win.
Francois Beauchemin and Ian White also scored for Toronto, who improved to 7-2-2 in their last eleven games. Â John Tavares scored both goals for the Islanders.
A dreadful 3-11-5 start for the Maple Leafs has everyone asking the same two questions. What the heck happened? And what the heck is the solution?
This will be the first and only time these two teams will meet this season. Their last tilt took place on November 22, 2008 in Toronto where Chicago won the game 5-4 in overtime.
Note: Be sure to check out Alex Tran’s quick hits of the day!
This past Saturday, The Fourth Period discussed on their radio segment the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs trading Tomas Kaberle at some point this season, if the team’s fortunes do not begin to improve.
The topic itself is not exactly news; talk of Kaberle being moved for some sort of tantalizing return or another has been commonplace in Toronto during the past couple of seasons. What is interesting, however, is the timing. Â Kaberle has been on a statistical tear to begin the year, leading all NHL defensemen with 17 points (2g, 15a) in 12 games. Â Coming off a disasterous 2008-09 campaign, Kaberle is back on the collective radars of several teams who believe a top-flight offensive blue-liner may be the final piece to their puzzle.
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