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detroit

    606

    0-2-1 after 3 games, and the sky is falling.   Or so chicken little would have you believe, anyway.

    3 games in and panic?   Seriously?   You’d think the Leafs just traded away a handful of high picks for a relatively-unknown goaltender with an injury history.   Wait, scratch that — they did that a couple years ago and as I recall the move was far more heralded than denounced, at the time.

    Which is exactly my point:  you can’t know, early on, exactly how things will turn out.

      240

      Time to shake off the lingering effects of a rough Saturday night, by taking a peek at some of the stories headlining today’s Leaf news. A peek at Wilson’s coaching cheatsheet, a case for the Monster to start on Tuesday night, random notes from the games, and some quick prospect updates for Kadri, Blacker and Stefanovich.

        337

        Jonas Gustavsson will make his much anticipated debut for the Maple Leafs in tonight’s preseason tilt against Detroit.  Coach Ron Wilson has indicated that he will be in there for at least the first period, but that the staff wants to break him in slowly.  If Toronto does not get barraged in the first twenty minutes as they have in recent exhibition matches, the Monster’s tenure may stretch to a period and a half.

          165

          Ed. Note: Meet Daniel Santos, the newest member of the MLHS blogging team. Daniel serves as the Editorial Coordinator for The Score, and formerly blogged about the Maple Leafs for The Score’s “Six Pack.” Welcome, Dan.

          Well, the comeback kids couldn’t do it tonight. Unlike last night against Pittsburgh, The Leafs couldn’t overcome a slow start tonight and fell 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.

            49

            Last season in a draft, I chose Evgeni Nabokov for an H2H league organized by James Mirtle. It seemed early, but I had reasons. To win in fantasy GMs must find an edge using unconventional analysis and strategy.

            That’s what I try to do.

            Facts don’t lie and I liked Nabokov (and Backstrom from Minnesota) better than any goalie last season. It’s also why Tim Thomas ranked higher. This season both Nabby and Thomas weren’t ranked as high. Maybe the Bruins and Sharks struggle this season.

            Why? Find out here.

              189

              The Maple Leafs finished as the league’s worst defensive team last season, giving up an astounding 286 goals, which works out to about 3.5 goals against a game. As such, much of the team’s summer remodeling took place on the blueline, which saw the departure of Kubina and the additions of shutdown defensemen  Beauchemin and Komisarek. With nearly $20M dollars committed per season through 2011 to the group of Kaberle, Komisarek, Beauchemin, Schenn and Finger, and Tomas being the only player above the age of 30, it appears on paper at least, that this will be the core of the defense for the foreseeable future. If that’s the case, how do they stack up against the rest of the league?

                469

                As promised it has been a summer of comprehensive retooling both on the grind lines and perhaps more pertinently on the blueline. With Brian Burke hitting the fast forward on the once anticipated rebuild, the Leafs have become a tougher proposition with a prospects chart expected to feed into that ethos for years to come. Meanwhile, the defensive corps has become deeper and more pugnacious than any Leafs setup in the past decade… at least from a utilitarian standpoint.

                  47

                  Although the season prior to lockout would prove the Maple Leafs last playoff foray in half a decade, neither year that straddled the infamous labor disputes would be remembered with any particular fondness. Ushering in the reign of John Ferguson Jr., 2003-04 became, in hindsight, a defining landmark in an era of decline when overblown hype would manifest a country club malaise. Regardless, those lockout sandwiching years can also be remembered, at least in a very in a small way, for the gracing of the Toronto blue line by a cult stay at home defenseman who defied the “new” NHL dictum and refused to be culled from the game.

                    157

                    A quick look at the Todd Bertuzzi to Toronto scenario, the NHL’s investigation into Chicago’s Marian Hossa contract (boy have they had a tough offseason), more on the Phil Kessel contract status, and a bit about Wayne Primeau’s thoughts going into next season.

                      507

                      While he would never admit it, Ontario native Nazem Kadri must of felt a twinge of anger at how the biggest day in his life panned out. Treated like a high steak pawn at the 2009 draft where the dreams he worked so hard to achieve were to be realized, Kadri watched as a bitter Brian Burke failed to secure the vaunted trade northwards, then faced the ignominy of TSN analyst Darren Dreger questioning Burke about Brayden Schenn as he sat in silence, festooned in his Maple Leafs jersey. For sure it must have been disappointing and one can only hope he didn’t venture toward any Leafs related websites that night.

                        98

                        The Toronto Maple Leafs’ first draft under the watchul eye of Brian Burke displayed a stark change in the team’s draft philosophy. The scouting staff searched for the type of players and attributes that would be able to fit into the mold of a tough, physical checking style of game that the Leafs hope to play several years down the road. As a result, we saw a lot more emphasis placed on size and toughness than skill and speed. Not surprisingly, all of Toronto’s seven selections were from the North American ranks, four of them from the Ontario Hockey League and three from American hockey programs.

                          543

                          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.

                            10

                            I had the opportunity to catch Kurtis McLean at Hockey Heritage North in Kirkland Lake, Ontario and ask him a few questions about his career and his future in the NHL. The 28 year old NCAA and AHL star has been nothing short of a hard worker and the type of player every team wants in their system for strength and leadership. Kurtis talks about his career, his first NHL goal, and who he thinks the Islanders are going to select with their 1st overall pick.

                              51

                              The ability to select future stars or even useful role players in the mid-late rounds is what separates the pretenders from the contenders. The class of the NHL when it comes to late round drafting are the Detroit Red Wings, with players like Helm (5th), Franzen (3rd), Filppula (2nd), Hudler (3rd), Ericsson (9th), Zetterberg (7th) and Datsyuk (6th) all playing key roles on a Stanley Cup Finalist team. As E.J. Mcguire alluded to in the previous chapter of Draft Watch ’09, there will be plenty of potential impact players available beyond the first round of this year’s entry draft. Let’s take a look at some of the names:

                                46

                                Celebrating a decade of squandered potential and faded dreams, the draft of 1999 turned out shallower than an infant’s paddling pool, yet despite being regarded as an acrimonious footnote in league history the draft of ’99 also served as an unlikely backdrop to one of the most meticulously engineered pre-draft coups ever.

                                  78

                                  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.

                                    2

                                    Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.

                                    And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.

                                    515

                                    Excitement abounds these days in the streets of Toronto, as a long-overdue rebuilding effort for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the prospect of a revitalized franchise, moves into high gear.

                                    Arguably the last successful revitalization of the Maple Leafs franchise occurred in the early 1990s, when in the span of three seasons the Leafs went from basement-dwellers to Stanley Cup contenders.  Although many are quick to credit then-GM Cliff Fletcher’s 1992 mega-deal with the Calgary Flames as the key turning point for the franchise, the groundwork for the franchise’s rapid acceleration from pretender to contender actually began much earlier … in the 1989-90 season, to be exact.