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An intriguing top line of Kris Versteeg, Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel will feature in tonight’s rematch with the Flyers following the Leafs’ 11-round shootout win over Philadelphia last night at the John Lebatt Centre in London. The trio is the most skilled iteration of forwards the Leafs’ roster has to offer, and combined with Dion Phaneuf and Tomas Kaberle on the blueline (who will also dress) represent an interesting potential powerplay option for coach Wilson. The results with the man advantage tonight, then, will be well worth monitoring.
Even with news breaking this afternoon of Ilya Kovalchuk’s new $60 million contract extension (potentially) with the New Jersey Devils, this 2010 free agency period has been one of the most uneventful and slow-developing offseasons in recent memory. The reason being? Despite a mediocre at best free agent group, there simply isn’t enough money to pay these guys what they’re probably worth. As one unnamed NHL General Manager put it last week: “The teams with cap don’t have cash and the teams with cash don’t have cap”. The Maple Leafs however, are fortunate enough to have both, and have the opportunity to exploit the market to their advantage.
It may seem uncharacteristic of Â Brian Burke, historically a headline maker at the Entry Draft, to sit essentially idle on the hockey world’s biggest stage. Important to remember is that the big man can be patient when he needs to be. The Anaheim and Calgary deals of last February, when Burke waited until certain pressure points reached a head, were both examples of Burke’s willingness to sit back until the time was right to pull the trigger – despite all the temptations to hit the panic button as his team sat in the Eastern Conference basement with no first round pick to look forward to.
Welcome to Maple Leafs Hot Stove’s official coverage of the 2010 NHL Entry draft. Â Everyone here at the site will be working hard, monitoring stories and networking with people around us through the day to bring you the absolute latest as we get set for the NHL entry draft live from L.A. tonight.
Eric Duhatschek reports in the Globe and Mail last night that there are six firm offers for Kaberle, with more expected to come in as the day progresses.
The article also goes on to state that though everyone is focused on the Kaberle sweepstakes, Burke did admit to having a few others things perhaps in the works, though he obviously declined to talk names.
Duhatschek also reports that Blackhawks winger Andrew Ladd may be a potential target for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Stay tuned to Maple Leafs Hot Stove all day for the absolute latest on the NHL Entry Draft
Brian Burke is a pretty smart guy. Months ago, he explained to the fans and media that while the current free agent market is weak, it could get stronger as cap strapped teams are unable to submit qualifying offers to some prominent restricted free agents. One such player could be Andrew Ladd, and there could be several other names in play as well. Follow me as a I crunch some numbers to figure out why.
David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail speculates that Burke’s first move this coming offseason will be to find a taker for forward Mikhail Grabovski. Shoalts explains that with Bozak and Kadri likely penciled into the team’s top two centre roles, it is unlikely that Burke will opt for three undersized centres on his roster. Add in a $2.9M pricetag for a primarily offensive-mindedÂ player who scored only 35 points in 59 games, and the writing seems to be on the wall. Shoalts warns fans not to expect a hefty return: likely less than the 2nd round pick Fletcher gave up to acquire him.
- The Globe and Mail explains that thanks to an impressive win over the Capitals, the Leafs’ veterans have bought themselves some more time, and no immediate restructuring with Marlies players will be made. Yeesh.
- The Toronto Sun reviews a possible Brent Sopel to Toronto swap, stating that the $500K cleared in the waiving of Andrew Ebbett likely stalled trade talks over the weekend as Chicago seemed to gain a bit more leverage.
- The Marlies came away with a 3-2 shootout win over the Monsters yesterday afternoon, and it was in big part due to the play of first star James Reimer, who turned away 30 shots, including an overtime breakaway and four shootout attempts. Don’t look now but Reimer is quickly doing his best to help us forget Justin Pogge, as the 21 year old boasts a 5-1-1 record with a 2.10 GAA and .928 SV%.
- Lastly, I’ve still got a pair of last minute purples to tonight’s game against the Islanders that I’m looking to move at cost. Drop me an email if you’re interested. Update: Tickets have been sold, thanks for your interest.
Stick Work with Fab and Kats returns this week. Fab and I pick our Torontosaurus Rex and discuss why. I went a little off the board with a player that should be given more credit, even though I’ve been hard on him before.
After fixing the issues with the audio for our guests, we will bounce our selections off our first guest, Julian Sanchez of Pension Plan Puppets and he’ll chime in on goaltending amongst other Leafs related items.
Discussing small markets teams is Globe and Mail’s and From The Rink on SB Nation, James Mirtle.
Fab traveled to watch the Leafs play in Carolina, while I attended the Ottawa Senators against the New Jersey Devils last weekend. We’ll tell you about our travels and observations while James provides a more in depth look at some of the smaller markets and their travails.
We thank our guest for their time, and our listeners as well.
Stick Work With Fab&Kats
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Per the Globe and Mail: “The lineup for the Leafsâ€™ first preseason game against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday will contain plenty of youngsters like Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Phil Oreskovic, Jay Rosehill, Andre Deveaux as well as veterans Colton Orr, Wayne Primeau and Jason Allison, who is trying to make a comeback. Look for Allison to centre a line with Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin on the wings. Joey MacDonald will play half of the game in goal.”
Some quick links and discussion points for a quiet Tuesday night. Plenty to talk about including the highlights of a Burke media scrum at the grand opening of the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence (MCHE), the GM’s speak out on the Phil Kessel situation and the possibility of an offer sheet, rookie tournament video highlights and the latest developments in the ongoing Phoenix Coyotes ownership drama.
Hang in there folks, we’re almost into September…
The Globe and Mail has got a very interestingÂ article up discussing the latest developments in the ongoing battle between Jim Balsillie and the NHL. At the very centre of whole controversy could be an antitrust lawsuit filed by Balsillie if he feels he can prove that the NHL was acting to protect the position of the Toronto Maple Leafs, rather than the league as a whole. If it is shown that the Maple Leafs have the right to veto such a move (and it’s speculated that the Leafs organization believes that’s the case), then that would be in violation of the antitrust law, and thus illegal.
The Toronto Star reports that the Leafs may get very little if any money at all in compensation if a new team should enter the Soutern Ontario market, a belief certainly contrary to the speculated territorial rights reaching astronomical figures as high as hundreds of millions of dollars. The article quotes findings from a recent economic investigation in saying that Leafs fans could expect lower ticket prices, but demand would likely still be high enough to sustain the sellouts.
And now a question to all the readers, particularly the ones in or around the Hamilton area: Do you support the notion of another NHL franchise in Southern Ontario, and would you consider switching and/or splitting allegiances?
According to Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs are closing in on a contract with Notre Dame senior Christian Hanson, son of the legendary Dave Hanson from the cult classic “Slapshot”. This move is just the beginning of what should be a very busy offseason for Brian Burke as he attemps to replenish the Maple Leaf farm system.