From tonight’s Insider Trading on TSN:
McKenzie:If you’ve been hearing a lot of Vernon Fiddler trade rumours it’s because two weeks ago he went to the Dallas Stars and said he wants more ice time and wants a bigger role, and if he can’t get it with Dallas than let it be somewhere else. He’s on an expiring contract at $1.8 million and an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year. There is interest in him from other teams but the Stars are wining and things are going well, so they’re not going to give him away. Keep an eye on this one.
Dreger: The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of those teams that have had discussions with Dallas about Fiddler. Toronto’s a little bit concerned about his age and the money, but the Leafs are looking for something. They’ve also had discussions on potentially trading John-Michael Liles to the Carolina Hurricanes but nothing imminent there.
When John Michael Liles is in the minors, the Leafs are pinged for 2,950,000 on the cap. If the Leafs were to deal Liles and retain half of his salary (maximum amount), they would be on the hook for 1,937,000. That doesn’t make sense to do over the length of the deal, but something like a million might. The maximum number of retained salaries is three per team, so this would put the Leafs at the max if it were to transpire. One stumbling block here is that Carolina has no more cap space than the Leafs.
When it comes to Vernon Fiddler, think of an upgrade on Smithson but a similar player type. 33 years old, veteran of nearly 600 games (has collected around 90 more points than Smithson in that time), plays around 2 minutes on the penalty kill, wins 53% of draws (this season), though surprisingly poor on the dot last season in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill. The downside is Fiddler is going to cost an asset, likely a mid round pick.
Nothing looks imminent here, but it seemed worth passing along.
In a matchup with big playoff implications, the Leafs could move ten up on the 10th-placed Carolina Hurricanes with a win in this four-point swing game. A loss in regulation puts the Hurricanes within six with three games in hand.
The Hurricanes are an opponent the Leafs have struggled with in both matchups this season. Their strength down the middle has played a key role as the Staal brothers have featured prominently on the scoresheet in a combined 7-2 win over the two games. Among teams the Leafs have played more than once, the Canes are the only opponent they have gained zero points off of.
The Toronto Maple Leafs (8-5-0) are in Carolina to take on the Hurricanes(7-4-1) (7pm, LeafsTV). Toronto will look to extend their winning stream to 5 games with a win. Toronto is one of — if not the — hottest teams in the league at the moment but face some new obstacles as they try to keep on rolling.
A depleted Toronto Maple Leafs lineup will test the club’s depth and will be without: Joffrey Lupul, James Reimer, Matt Frattin and Carl Gunnarsson. Jussi Rynnas has been called up to back-up Ben Scrivens, who was strong when called in for an injured James Reimer in a 5-2 win over Philadelphia and has brought his numbers back up to a more respectable save percentage of .913 and a goals against average of 2.56. As Scrivens goes, the Leafs go. He has an opportunity to run with the starting job while James Reimer is injured.
Carolina, who beat Toronto 4-1 on February 4th, is playing on the back of 2 wins over New Jersey Devils (4-2) and the New York Islanders (6-4), but lost previously to Philadelphia, a team Toronto dominated just 3 days ago.
Projected lines vs. Hurricanes
van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Kessel
Komarov – Grabovski – Kulemin
MacArthur – Kadri – McClement
McLaren – Steckel – Orr
Phaneuf – Holzer
Liles – Kostka
Fraser – Franson
Some notes on injuries from Jonas Siegel.
Mike Brown has been activated off injured reserve, and is seemingly available for action as of today but will not dress against Carolina. Brown missed seven games with a shoulder injury.
Carl Gunnarsson did not travel with the team to Raleigh. Gunnarsson remained in Toronto to visit with an ART (Active Release Technique) specialist receiving a deep tissue massage for his hip injury. “He’s had a couple visits already,” Randy Carlyle said, “shown great improvement.” The 26-year-old has missed the past six games with the nagging injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks are just 60 minutes away from drinking out of Lord Stanley, and it will be present at tonight’s game at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Should the Blackhawks win, it will be their first championship in 49 years.
“It has been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Every time you win one game, it feels like you’re going all the way to the Cup. I’ve always said when you lose a game it feels like your season is going to be over. It just has been such a crazy ride.”
During his first full year at the helm in Toronto, you could make the case that Brian Burke was the league’s most active general manager. There was the Kessel summer blockbuster with Boston and then the mega-deals on January 31st that brought in Phaneuf and Giguere. It’s quite obvious that he’s willing to expend assets to target any top notch premium young talent when it’s made available. Both of those trades were opportunities: Kessel was a restricted free agent on a team with cap issues. Burke often spoke of inquiring on Phaneuf several times throughout the year until the “pressure points” of the cap and the struggles of the Flames pushed Sutter into making a bold move. This summer should be no different. Let’s take a look at some of the young RFA’s that might potentially attract Burke’s interest.
For longtime fans of the NHL, it was nothing new.
An organization set to come in, guns blazing, and attempt to be “competition” for the National Hockey League. Â On the surface, perhaps not a bad idea. Â After all, competition creates creativity. Â Competition brings out the absolute best in everyone.
However, there have been two big attempts by rogue organizations to dethrone the NHL from atop their perch as the number one hockey league.
And just like the WHA years earlier, is it possible that the KHL is going the way of the dodo bird?
Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on itâ€™s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues pointsâ€™ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.
Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.
As you are no doubt well aware, the NHL draft lottery will be held tonight in New York to determine the order of the 14 non-playoff teams heading into the June 25-26 draft in Los Angeles. You can catch coverage of the lottery at 8pm on TSN.
And the winner is … Edmonton. Â Leafs fans, prepare yourselves to endure “Kessel Trade” debates for the better part of the next decade.
Line-up Note: Tim Brent has been recalled from the Marlies and will feature tonight. He has recorded 26 points in 35 games this season, third on the team among active Marlies. Caputi or Primeau will sit according to AM640′s Jonas Siegel.
The planets have aligned and the gods of hockey have shined their countenance upon the Leafs. Considering of course the various permutations that have to yet play out, it could still end up for nought at the close of play Sunday night. But after a favourable series of results, Toronto now has the chance to topple the Montreal Canadiens wavering playoff aspirations and boy do they owe the fans a blistering performance to give the Leafs faithful some tangible highlight from a season resplendent in lows.
The Maple Leafs have signed prospect Philippe Paradis, a 2009 1st round pick (27th) who as you may recall was acquired earlier this season from the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 2006 1st round pick Jiri Tlusty (13th).
Paradis’ Junior team, the Shawinigan Cataractes, were recently eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs. The Leafs elected to get Paradis signed immediately following his team’s elimination so he can be sent to the AHL Toronto Marlies to gain some professional-level experience.
* aka “Operation: Basement Breakout”
With last night’s loss, the Maple Leafs were mathematically eliminated from playoff contention for the 5th straight year. This was not really news – even the most optimistic of Leafs’ fans pretty much knew this to be the case since early into the New Year, if not sooner.
However, a more prevalent question regarding the season standings remains: is getting out of last place in the Eastern Conference still possible?
Tonight, the Buds and Habs are set to battle it out and put their win streaks on the line. The Leafs are 5-1-0 in their last 6 outings, while the Canadiens are riding an impressive 6 game string of victories. With Toronto now over 0.500 at home (15-14-5), they are looking to play the role of heartbreakers this season, and what better way to continue doing so then by throwing a big fat L at Montreal tonight?
The Carolina Hurricanes are closing in on a deal with the San Jose Sharks for Niclas Wallin, while Leafs fans were begging it was Rickard. Kovalchuk turns down $101M, while the Rangers pull out of the sweepstakes due to the asking price. Find out what the Thrashers wanted in return. Also, Dion Phaneuf has his own plan for the remainder of the Leafs regular season.
It was the same old story for the Maple Leafs last night. Another bad start, another power-play goal against, another game where they outshot the opposition badly, another good effort, but another loss. The Leafs dropped their fourth in a row, 4-2 to the last-place Carolina Hurricanes.
Just wanted to share a fantastic bit of work done by Nights, one of our many enthusiastic and intelligent readers, who evaluated how the NHL landscape would look without the first 8 games of the season during which the Maple Leafs struggled mightily. Great work!
Warning: The following could make your eyes fall out, your ears explode, and cost you years of therapy. Howâ€™s that an introduction for you?
After such a porous start for both clubs, both teams are heading into tonight’s original six matchup with their longest streak of the season and are currently playing their best hockey. The Red Wings are looking to extend their streak to 4 wins, while the Leafs are looking to extend their streak to 2 games for the first time this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the road tonight with a matchup against fellow Eastern bottomer Carolina Hurricanes. It will be a weekend of back to back games for the Leafs as they head home on Saturday to play host to the Detroit Red Wings (a game I will be liveblogging). But there is a significant question at hand for the Leafs heading into tonight’s game: Can a team aiming for the playoffs beat the worst team in the league?
Leafs fans have been waiting for John Mitchell to step up and start burying his opportunities to legitimize himself as a top 6 forward, where depth is lacking. At Wednesday’s practice, he received that opportunity and looks to excel at it as he was paired up with sniper Phil Kessel to establish some chemistry before Friday night’s matchup with the Carolina Hurricanes.