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Columbus

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs continue their 3 game road swing tonight as they visit Columbus to take on Rick Nash and his Blue Jackets. The Leafs will be without both Jonas Gustavsson and Carl Gunnarsson for the trip, and Vesa Toskala will be in the lineup as MacDonald’s backup for the tilt.

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      By: Gus Katsaros
      Prior to the season starting, I had written about the impact of schedules. In particular, as the Leafs face the Habs tonight after playing the previous night, while Montreal is rested. Interesting enough, the last time this happened, Toronto beat Detroit 5-1.

      Schedules make a big difference in the results of NHL teams fates during the season. In some instances, it could be the difference between a playoff spot and a tee time (and I thoroughly enjoy both – FORRRREEEE!!).

        1

        I have always believed that a persons real intelligence level is a sum of what they allow themselves to learn from others.  Book smarts, education, degrees, etc are all an indication of knowledge – but, nothing adds to a persons real world IQ more then lessons learned.  Real intelligent people are able to learn by watching and listening to others rather then needing to learn everything themselves – you know, the hard way (sadly, the path I usually end up taking).  I am continually striving to get better at learning from others and gather as much IQ as I can from the experiences, observations and hard knocks others are willing to share with me.  As this pertains to hockey specifically, I had an opportunity to watch a Leafs game with Gus Katsaros last week and also the opportunity to meet with and speak to Garrett Bauman.  Gus and I had some nice seats for the New York Islanders game sitting at the face off circle in the offensive zone where the Leafs tallied some 50 of their 61 total shots.  I had meant to do a post game blog at the time, but, life got busy and I guess it is too late for that now.  However, that day yielded several interesting hockey learning opportunities for me personally and I decided that these lessons alone would make great blog material.

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          There is a lot going on  around the league these days.    Rumours about Kaberle and potential deals abound, a Kessel signing is no longer imminent, Heatley is still a Senator, and the NHL remains hot over the Hossa contract.  Oh, and did I mention the league still has a bounty on the head of Jim Balsillie?

          All of these stories have been playing out for months now, and none appear headed toward a resolution prior to the start of the new season.    It is safe to assume that despite the vast quantity of reporting devoted to these stories throughout the offseason, each will continue to dominate the headlines on days where the box scores do not.

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            It’s been the story of the summer in Toronto, the one that just will not go away.  

            What will the Maple Leafs do with Tomas Kaberle?   Will they trade him this offseason?  Will they keep him hoping his play on an improved team will up the demand for him?   Or will they keep him with the intention of building around him?

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              The word on the street is Rangers’ winger Nikolai Zherdev has been awarded $3.9m in arbitration (unconfirmed).   If true, many suspect the amount to be out of GM Glen Sather’s price range, and he may allow Zherdev to walk as a result.

              A hot rumour today has the Maple Leafs’ monitoring the situation closely, and many have said that if the Rangers decline the arbitration result, Leafs’ GM Brian Burke is expected to be at the head of the line of teams attempting to sign the mercurial, but immensely talented, winger.

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                Just got a tip that the Stralman-Primeau swap is the tip of the iceberg to something larger happening in Toronto.   Being told to keep an eye on the Blue Jackets – Brassard and Klesla are two names that have been bandied about in the rumour mill.

                There has been a lot of talk surrounding Columbus, Vancouver and St. Louis during the past week.   The *suspicion* is that today’s Stralman trade was a necessary move to facilitate another, larger move with one of the three aforementioned teams.

                Speculate away, folks.  Things are getting real interesting, real fast.  Updates will come as I receive them.

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                  Looks like we can get ready to cross off another free agent target off the list. A few weeks after Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash agreed to an 8 year, $62.5M contract to stay in Columbus, a Russian source is reporting that the Atlanta Thrashers are expected to ink star winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a record-setting contract worth $11.36M a season, which is 20% of the team’s total cap ($58.6M) and the maximum salary a player can receive under the current CBA. The two-time 50 goal scorer will now shatter Ovechkin’s previous record annual salary of $9M a year.

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                    The first round didn’t quite live up to all the hype that we were hoping for, but Toronto did come out of it with a promising two-way centreman in Nazem Kadri. As it currently stands, Toronto will have six selections on Day 2 of the NHL Entry Draft, which encompasses rounds 2 through 7. It all kicks off on NHL Network at 10am ET. Live updates and analysis throughout the day.

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                      (Cross-posted at Checking From Behind)
                      4:20 PM

                      Fan 590 suggests the Dallas Stars have offered the #8 selection and Ondrej Roman or Perttu Lindgren for Tomas Kaberle.

                      3:00 PM

                      Thanks to Andrew Stoeten for finding this tidbit:
                      “Columbus is not interested in Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle, and one rumour circulating is that the Thrashers will land him, as part of a package that will see the Leafs get Atlanta’s fourth-overall pick” – Columbus Dispatch.

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                        Phew. Finally a chance to catch our breath after what was perhaps the best 2nd round of playoff hockey ever played. We were treated to three 7 game series, 9 overtime periods, and an epic showdown between the league’s premier young rivals, Crosby and Ovechkin. Perhaps overshadowed by all the intensity and exciting finishes, is a fairly simple underlying theme: Youth.

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                          It’s official:  the trade deadline has come and gone … not with a bang but a whimper.

                          Aside from the agonizingly slow pace throughout most of the day, some fascinating moves (and non-moves) took place, for both the Maple Leafs and the league as a whole.

                          Here are my thoughts, in the aftermath of Deadline Day:

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                            As the Trade Deadline approaches, speculation will continue to grow over which Maple Leaf players may be moving on to new NHL destinations.

                            The following is my own personal estimation of the likelihood of regular roster players actually getting dealt, based upon contract status, playoff/stretch drive impact potential, comments from players/coaches/management, and of course the metaphorical smoke & fire (the amount of repetition in the rumour mills).   To quote the great Chazz Palminteri, “a rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die”.

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                              A rather solid home game by the Leafs saw them come out on the short side of the stick in extra time (yet again), but a fair share of positives came out of tonight’s matchup.  Justin Pogge played a very solid game in net for the Blue and White, and really needs to continue seeing time like this for anyone to get a fair idea of how he will perform in the NHL.  Moreover, most of the Leafs were buzzing all night long, and this game really could have gone either way.

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                                While draft picks are high priority in any potential trade talks leading up to the March 4th deadline, Brian Burke is also said to be targeting a group of young but already established NHLers, according to a source.

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                                  Most recent Leafs trade talk in the mainstream media centers largely around Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. Just about enough has been mentioned on those fronts; Brian Burke will not compromise in his return demands for either of his coveted blue-liners and it appears that only time will tell. Here are three other interesting to trade or not to trade scenarios:

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                                    This just in: we can officially put any and all Pascal Leclaire-to-Toronto trade rumours to rest.

                                    Courtesy cbssports.com:

                                    “Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Pascal Leclaire will undergo ankle surgery Friday that will likely sideline him through the regular season.”

                                    So THAT explains why they picked up Wade Dubielewicz last week.

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                                      I know, you’re worried about value for Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle. Well, don’t. Their recent performance(s) are killing their market value, right?

                                      No. Market forces and low-ball offers may hinder dealing them now, but as the trade deadline approaches, true value is more likely for the Buds. And that’s good, because both players are underperforming.

                                      Being in full evaluation/negotiation mode in fantasy leagues, posturing for position and propping up a sagging roster, it got me to thinking about reality-based trade evaluation, and how appraisals are distorted by current production .. or lack thereof.