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Damien Cox

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Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager, Brian Burke should have uttered one phrase to explain the situation, one simple little phrase to envelope the reasoning for the Phil Kessel trade;

“Our picks in our vision of where we ended up are overvalued in accordance to the available crop of prospects.”

But in Toronto, to admit that in what’s deemed as a ‘rebuild’ would have been a PR disaster.

Despite popular opinion, he wasn’t wrong.

The world is no longer flat, it’s round .. like a full-cirle

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It’s been rumored for a few days now, but on Wednesday afternoon, prospect Jerry D’Amigo has finally put pen to paper to sign a 3 year entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs. This signing certainly comes as a surprise as D’Amigo was originally expected to complete a full four year commitment with RPI before turning pro. After a fantastic ’09-’10 season that saw him produce a near point-a-game campaign en route to ECAC Rookie of the Year honours, he rocketed up the team’s depth charts and could find himself in a position to earn a roster spot as early as this fall. Like Tyler Bozak last season, D’Amigo will have two overriding motivations in joining the Maple Leafs.

One, the money is pretty good: The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox explains that Jerry will earn a “max contract”. Update: D’Amigo’s maximum cap hit if he hits all his bonuses would be $1.125 million. Two, there is opportunity: the team’s forward outlook is still in flux and D’Amigo will be given every opportunity to compete for a full-time job at camp. Cox explains that the organization was willing to give D’Amigo a maximum contract because they feel that if the 2009 draft were redone, Jerry would find himself going in the bottom third of the first round. It’ll be interesting to see how the club will attempt to fit D’Amigo into their financial picture if he is indeed deemed NHL ready to start the season.

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According to the Toronto Star‘s Damien Cox, the Maple Leafs have targeted three potential players to bolster their lineup heading into next season.

For starters, the club is poised to make a run at impending unrestricted free agent defenseman Dan Hamhuis. Hamhuis is a good all-around defenseman who plays 21-22 minutes a night, makes a decent first pass, and can contribute a little bit in the offensive zone. His calling card is predominantly solid, if unspectacular even strength play, while eating up a ton of ice-time against the opposing team’s top lines. Still just 27 years of age, Hamhuis ranked 6th among NHL defenseman in takeaways last season. The potential link to Toronto is interesting because you’d think they’d already have enough money tied up on the blueline when Hamhuis could potentially be looking at upwards of $3 million on a long-term deal.

The team is also said to be kicking the tires on wingers Nathan Horton and Patrick Sharp, none of whom are strangers to the trade rumor mill. As mentioned previously, Horton has a no-trade clause that goes into effect on July 1st, which may motivate Panthers’ GM Dale Tallon to move the underachieving youngster at the draft. Meanwhile, Sharp is garnering plenty of interest around the league after an impressive point-a-game Stanley Cup run, but it’s likely that Chicago will exhaust all other possible trade alternatives before deciding to trade their valuable two-way forward.

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It’s not every day the Maple Leafs name a new captain. In fact, it’s not every decade. Sundin was named in 1997, 13 years prior to the Leafs appointment of Phaneuf. And with the announcement being made in front of a room of roughly 100 media personnel, the message was relayed to the world using every different angle imaginable.

Instead of weighing the pros and cons, balancing the collective good choices of Burke and Wilson against the bad, MLHS is going to bring you into the event. Thousands of writers have provided their opinion but little time has been spent enabling the reader to form their own. So please, if you will, grab your notepad and follow us past the security and the media media check-in, and into the press conference that will see Dion Phaneuf named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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    Dave Nonis on his new two-year contract extension with Toronto:

    “I’m very lucky. I have more to say about our team than some GMs do,” said Nonis of his unique position as Brian Burke’s right hand man. “It’s not a job that’s comparable with other positions around the league.”

    “If you look at our roster now and compare it to 16 months ago, it’s not only different, it’s younger and better,” he said. “But we’ve still got lots of work to do. The job is not done by a longshot. There are more pieces to add.”

    -Toronto Star’s Damien Cox

    Cox reports that one of those pieces may be 25-year-old center Roman Cervenka of Czech club HC Slavia Praha, perhaps familiar to you from his international appearances alongside Jaromir Jagr on Czech Republic’s Olympic side in February.

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      After tonight’s snoozer, let’s move on to a bigger and better subject.

      Some of you may have watched a surprising Norway side battle Switzerland to the bitter end for a quarterfinal birth in their final preliminary game at the Olympics; if so, try to recall a 5’7, 160-pound speedster working a stick as tall as the man himself.

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        From Damien Cox: “This isn’t how the Maple Leafs hoped Mikhail Grabovski would be spending his Olympic break. The 26-year-old centre was arrested at 2:30 a.m. Saturday by Vancouver police and kept in jail overnight after allegedly being involved in a street altercation. Grabovski was apparently released to his parents at about 9 a.m. Saturday.”

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          Update: Damien Cox is reporting that Burke is currently working on at least two possible trades.

          - The Toronto Sun‘s got a very interesting quote from Ron Wilson. When broached about the possibility of call-ups from the Marlies, the head coach replied: “It would give us a boost, but because we are kind of limited, we can’t send anybody down”. You’re kidding right? What happened to all that preseason talk about burying underperforming veterans in the minors? Where’s the accountability?

          - Darren Dreger offers up some speculation as to what could be a very busy offseason next summer with as many as 17 free agents, 11 of whom will be unrestricted. He mentions that Stajan is a very likely candidate to be traded, and Ponikarovsky seems to be the only one who will be offered an extension.

          - Prospect Notes: Nazem Kadri had a pair of very impressive games this past week, first in the OHL vs. Russia Subway Series, displaying a ton of poise and skill running the powerplay and then notching 3 assists against Erie last night. Jimmy Hayes, the Leafs’ 2008 2nd round selection, is showing signs of breaking out in the NCAA, with a 4 assist game last week and another goal last night.

          - Once again, a pair of purples avaiable at cost for the Monday night’s game against John Tavares and the New York Islanders. First come first serve basis via email please.

          [email protected]

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            - The Edmonton Sun reports that Forbes has ranked the Maple Leafs as the NHL’s most valuable team for the fourth straight season. The team is worth an astounding $470 million, jumping 5% from last year despite a slow economy.

            - According to the Windsor Star, Leaf prospect Dale Mitchell will head back to play one more season as an overager for the Spitfires, adding ridiculous depth to an already loaded team. Mitchell will make his debut tonight against Plymouth.

            - Damien Cox has a very interesting story about this summer’s pursuit of Gustavsson and how the focus shifted from NCAA star Brad Thiessen over to the Farjestads phenom thanks to some great work from scouts Thommie Bergmann and Mike Palmateer.

            - The Toronto Star explains that the Leafs refuse to comment about Komisarek’s injury at the present time. He missed yesterday’s practice with a recurring leg injury that forced him out of Tuesday’s game and there is no word on when he will return.

            [email protected]

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              TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting a trade between Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli that will see Phil Kessel join the Maple Leafs as agreed upon at this time pending a contract agreement between the Leafs and the restricted free agent.

              Update: Damien Cox is reporting via twitter that the Leafs and Kessel have agreed upon a 5 year, $27 million contract, with two firsts and a second headed to Boston in return for Kessel.

              Update: TSN has since confirmed the details of the contract and trade as reported earlier by Cox.

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                I read an article in the Toronto Star the other day, in which Damien Cox suggests that the Maple Leafs weren’t as soft of a club as many believe last season, due mostly to the fact that the Leafs were tied for 13th in the NHL regarding fighting misconducts, and were 15th overall when it came to penalty minutes. The point was to demonstrate that the club was average in terms of team toughness, not the soft club many of us and Brian Burke believe.

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                  Some interesting contrasting rumors/speculation in the Toronto media today regarding Kessel:

                  Damien Cox of the Toronto Star hears that Phil Kessel is very interested in joining the Maple Leafs and is already familiar with both Brian Burke and Ron Wilson through the U.S. Olympic program. However, Cox also mentions that it’s believed that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli is not overly enthused at the notion of dealing Kessel within the division but that Toronto is willing to pay more than the offer sheet compensation of three draft picks.

                  On the other hand, Lancy Hornby of the Toronto Sun reports that the Leafs intensified talks with the Bruins yesterday, and that Kessel could be headed this way in exchange for a “high 2010 draft pick”. Although you’d have to assume that the return would be much higher than that, the way it’s put seems to imply that it would be a single pick in return.

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                    I can hear the brassy intro in my head. Bah-bah bah bah Bah bah buh-buh-buh, and then the hook. “It’s the final countdown” rings in my ears.

                    Here we are with the 2008-09 NHL season fast approaching and the 1986 hit by the hair band Europe comes into my head.