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Garrett Bauman

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Okay, so my math may be a little off.  It’s Canada Day weekend, there shouldn’t be any arithmetic.  Unless, of course, you are an NHL general manager, than you better hope you have your math hat on.  A quick note to say I hope our fellow Canadian readers, as well as our loyal readers situated the south had an enjoyable holiday weekend.

Now, let’s divulge into what has so far been a somewhat reserved free agency period, One timer style.

–The big news coming out of free agency this hour is this report out of the L.A. Times that indicate the Los Angeles Kings are quite far apart on signing Ilya Kovalchuk. While they may not be out of the running entirely, Helene Elliott suggests the prospects are quite dim.  So where does Kovalchuk go?  The Islanders reportedly seem to be the only team willing to offer him the term he is looking for (rumoured to be 10 million for at least 10 years) but are there other suitors?  What about New Jersey?  Toronto?  One would think that although Burke would love to pull off the major move of free agency, the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi is balking about bringing in Kovy (term) is likely the same reasons Burkie has reservations.

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It’s around 2PM eastern time, meaning National Hockey League GM’s are likely getting ready to juggle their BlackBerry’s while getting set to sit down for lunch at a local Los Angeles hot spot.  With the many fantastic views and atmosphere, it may be the last relaxing moment of the day for these GM’s.

And most wouldn’t have it any other way.

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    We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Wayne Primeau, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

    Wayne PrimeauSummary:

    Acquired via trade, Primeau was brought in to provide a veteran presence to a young locker room, add grit to the fourth line and fill the role of defensive faceoff specialist.

    Although he did not particularly stand out during his 59 games, Primeau was relativley effective in his limited (albeit important) role. An unrestricted free agent, he is unlikely to return barring a substantial paycut from the $1.4m he earned last season.

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      We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature John Mitchell, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

      The Summary:

      It’s difficult to know what to make of John Mitchell. During his Leafs’ tenure he has flashed obvious talent, but also a tendency to disappear for lengthy stretches.  After a promising rookie campaign, Mitchell found himself struggling to earn ice time, playing in defensive role in front of shaky goaltending, and was later beset by a knee injury which caused him to miss 20 games.

      A restricted free agent, it goes without saying that Mitchell will have a lot to prove should the team decide to bring him back.

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        We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Phil Kessel, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

        Acquired via a controversial trade during the 2009 offseason in which three draft picks were sent to the Bruins, Kessel rebounded from shoulder surgery to become the Maple Leafs go-to guy in the offensive zone.

        Despite missing a month of the season, the electrifying 22-year old winger led the Maple Leafs in several offensive categories while providing the team with a legitimate scoring threat — and their first 30-goal scorer of the post-Sundin era.

        Only 22, Kessel has a bright future ahead of him and many suspect it will be only a matter of time before 40-goal seasons become the norm.

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          We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Mikhail Grabovski, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

          The Summary:

          Talented albeit inconsistent, Grabovski has held down the second-line centre job in Toronto for two seasons, with mixed results.  A flashy player who scored 20 goals in his rookie season, Grabovski’s tenure in Toronto has featured as many moments of offensive brilliance as head-scratching decisions (both on the ice and off).

          Listed at 5’11″ and a generous 182 lbs, the feisty 26 year-old Belarussian plays a much more aggressive style than his size would indicate. Although he has done a passable job in the #2 centre role, questions remain as to whether he fits GM Brian Burke’s long-term vision of the club. Under contract for two more years, the enigmatic forward may find himself on the trading block should a top centre become available (via trade or FA) to the Maple Leafs.

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            We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Luca Caputi, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

            The Summary:

            One of the Penguins’ highest-ranked prospects, 21-year old Toronto native Luca Caputi was acquired by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the Trade Deadline in exchange for long-serving winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.

            Caputi’s acquisition was another in a long line of moves by GM Brian Burke designed to (a) clean house, and (b) add young players with upside who can contribute immediately.

            To Caputi’s credit, the early returns have been positive the 6’3, 200lb winger can develop into a regular contributor, although with only 28 NHL games under his belt (19 with the Maple Leafs), it is difficult to gauge on what his ultimate role, or impact, will be. The 2010-11 season should provide a crucial indication of his NHL future.

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            Yesterday was a big day in Leafs Nation.  And I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s about time.  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.  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.

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              Final Deadline Trades:

              Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula
              Martin Skoula to New Jersey for a fifth round draft selection.
              Lee Stempniak to PHX for 4th and 7th rounders.
              Joey MacDonald to ANA for a 7th rounder in 2011.

              Wrap-Up: That looks to be a wrap on Brian Burke’s trade activity for the 2009-10 season. The Stempniak deal was obviously a form of loss-cutting on a pending UFA, but it’s a bit painful to remember who we sacrificed to acquire him in November of 2008 in two albeit underachieving first rounders in Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. The Leafs will not draft until the third round this year, and Burke did not succeed in that sense, however he moved the only piece realistically capable of fetching a second rounder for a semi-established young asset with the potential to replace Poni at an immediately cheaper price in Luca Caputi. It looks as though no takers could be found on either Wayne Primeau or Garnet Exelby, who look sure to now enter the FA market July 1.

              There seems to be details yet to unfurl surrounding the Tomas Kaberle situation this deadline, as once again Leafs fans were teased into believing a deal was pending (involving Hodgson, as it was reported, or possibly Alzner from Washington) only for what looked to be an imminent deal to be flatly denied by Brian Burke in the end. There are rumblings that Kaberle might have nixed a deal in similar fashion to the Jeff Carter situation at the ’08 deadline.

              From Garrett Bauman:

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                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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                  It took a while, but here is the inaugural podcast of Stick Work with Fab-&-Kats. Thanx to Alec and the gang here to use the site as the platform.

                  We were a little overzealous in our own recording segments considering how much there is to discuss in Leafs land, and took up more time than we will otherwise allot. Normally, more time will be devoted to our guests.

                  In the first overall podcast guests include Sean from Down Goes Brown as well as MLHS very own Garrett Bauman. The audio from the telephone interviews will improve as the broadcasts return and we explore new opportunities with technology.

                  We have to include apologies to Julian from PPP, who was kind enough to record a segment with us, but the audio was corrupt and unworkable on our part. We will have him on in the near future.

                  We hope you enjoy the show and look forward to bringing you better productions as we move forward.

                  So, folks, here we go … just follow the link for now

                  Stick Work

                  [email protected]

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                    UPDATE:
                    Some changes in information:

                    • Hits newsstands September 8th, available at all Indigo Chapters stores in Canada as well as wherever magazines are sold in the greater Toronto area, including Walmart, grocery stores, drug stores, newsstands, etc. Apparently the the only magazine outlet in the GTA it isn’t available at is the Toronto airport.
                    • Should you wish to PREORDER, the SHIPPING FEE has been dropped from $11 to $5.00. Everyone who has already preordered will be credited the $6 difference.
                    • Pre-ordering not only guarantees you a copy but will get you one a week in advance as preorders are shipped August 25th with a 2-5 day waiting period for arrival.
                    • My apologies for the mistakes in my original information.

                    Debunking growing speculation that I’ve been kicking my feet up on the beaches of Cancun and ignoring all of you for the last month, myself alongside publishing company Maple Street Press are very pleased to introduce the inaugural Maple Leafs Annual. Before we get into the thick of it, I’d like to first of all thank MSP for offering me the opportunity to edit, and contribute to, this project. Although at times taxing, to see this Annual come together has been an extremely satisfying and mostly fun endeavour. I was put in the unique position of being able to unite the prominent and growing voices of the Leafs’ blog-o-sphere into a consolidated project, and for that I’m very thankful. The final product is one that I think all of Leafs Nation can be proud of.

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                      Garrett Bauman has wrapped up his “Getting to Know You” series for the ’08/’09 season. For those who may have missed a post or are interested in re-reading some of these insightful pieces, here’s a cumulative list of this season’s series:

                      Garrett will be resuming the feature next fall. For future reference, the list can be found under the “Prospect Files” page of the website. They’re certainly recommended, relevant reads.

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                        It looks as though Phil Oreskovic will make his NHL debut tomorrow night vs. Ottawa as the Leafs attempt to cope with an injury-riddled blue-line. Anton Stralman will also feature with Tomas Kaberle, Mike Van Ryn, Jonas Frogren and waiver pick-up Erik Reitz all sidelined. Reitz and Kaberle should be back in action within a week whereas Van Ryn’s season may well be over after he sustained a wince-inducing knee injury last night against the Oilers. Just when we thought we were done with one freakishly injury prone defenseman, it looks like VR will be eliciting the frustration of Carlo Colaiacovo’s tenure as a very skilled defenseman who simply cannot stay off the shelf. The timeline on Frogren isn’t yet known, but Wilson suggested after last night’s loss that “he will be a while” recovering from his lower body injury.

                        Check out Garrett Bauman’s “Getting To Know You” profile of Phil Oreskovic here.

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                          Ed. Note: Lots of holiday reading going up today for you guys. Merry Christmas.

                          Here we are the Christmas break, and I’d like to take the time to look back at what we saw in September, what we expected by Christmas and what we envision for the future of the Blue and White.