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Jonas Gustavsson’s unofficial debut performance is bound to generate some buzz after the Monster stopped 35 of 36 shots in backing the Maple Leafs’ prospects to a 3-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins’ youngsters in the opening game of the rookie tournament inside the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium this evening.
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.
Since taking over the reigns of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke identified several glaring weaknesses in his team.Â In several press conferences, he clearly and succinctly described these weaknesses and his intention and plans to amend his product.Â Being one of the more active General Managers, commencing with the NCAA free agent period right through til today, Mr Burke has lived up to the expectations most Leaf fans would have.Â Commencing with the signings of Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson, followed up with deadline trades to acquire draft picks, drafting London Knights sensation Nazim Kadri, signing key UFA’s specifically addressing his teams needs and the signing of top European goalie Jonas Gustuvvson led to renewed optimism amongst Leaf supporters – not of an imminent Stanley Cup victory, but, rather of a renewed direction and focus, once again bringing hope of a contending Leafs team being iced in the not too distant future.
Kicking off the week with another update on a whole lot of nothing around the NHL: The Leafs get ripped in ESPN’s Ultimate Team Standings, P.J. Axelsson signs with Frolunda, CBS Sports assigns offseason grades for the Northeast Division, and Kaberle bought out?
- Update #1: Rumors of a Calgary -Toronto trade involving Anton Stralman.
- Update #2: RDS confirms it. Stralman and Stuart to Calgary for Wayne Primeau.What the heck?
A variety of discussion points to kick off the weekend including the imminent departure of Justin Pogge and the Marlies goaltending situation going into next season. Is it finally James Reimer’s time to shine? Also, a quick look at the latest flurry of moves made by the Boston Bruins, and how that may affect a potential Leaf trade for the still unsigned Phil Kessel.
The Leafs (former?) goalie of the future is officially back for another year with the club.Â With the signing of Jonas Gustavsson, media and fans alike decreed Pogge’s chance to charge in and become the Leafs saviour had all but run out.Â Of course, it’s far too early to completely give up on a tender with Justin’s potential, and Brian Burke earlier stated his intentions to qualify the 23 year old without any hesitation.
Brian Burke was on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a variety of Leaf topics. An audio link to the interview can be found on the FAN 590′s website here. Although none of the news was of the earth-shattering variety, there were a couple interesting tidbits dropped as it pertains to the Leafs’ plans over the next few weeks and going into the regular season.
Let’s fight off the Monday blahs with a quick look at what’s happening around the NHL. A quick update on various issues that may impact the Maple Leafs, such as the Phil Kessel contract negotiations, the Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards trade rumors, and what the signing of Wade Dubielewicz may mean to the goaltending situation in Minnesota.
Leafs Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.Â The long wait for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s decision is over.Â Reports indicate that the tender has finally chosen the Toronto Maple Leafs after a long wooing process from a number of interested teams.
The contract is a one year deal totaling $900,000.Â Many expect Gustavsson to be brought in as Vesa Toskala’s backup and be a constant source of competition for our Finnish goaltender.Â Of course, there is the possibility that “the best goaltender outside of the NHL” exceeds expectations and steals the number one spot.
First, it was the failed courtship of a talented, young Farjestads star forward named Fabian Brunnstrom, who went on to post an impressive 17 goal rookie campaign for the Dallas Stars. Then Toronto went back to the Swedish club and relieved them of one of their top stay at home defenders, bringing over Jonas Frogren to add some much needed grit and toughness. Early into this summer, Brian Burke turned his attention to Farjestads’ young goalie phenom, Jonas Gustavsson, in a highly publicized negotiation process. As if that wasn’t enough, the Leafs are rumored to now be attempting to steal away Farjestad’s captain, forward Rickard Wallin as well. Their rising young forward, top defensive defenseman, top young goaltender and now their captain. Something tells me their fans aren’t too thrilled with the Leafs.
Even in the days of modern technology, many still profess that meteorology is an inexact science more guess work than theory. The very same can be said when scouting goaltenders. For every Mark-Andre Fleury (selected 1st overall in 2003) thereâ€™s a Brent Krahn (selected 9th overall in 2000). Meanwhile recent Vezina nominees and winners such as Tim Thomas, Mikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov had to wait until the 217th, 116th and 219th selections respectively to see their names on the board. Indeed, the vast majority of netminders who started a game last season in the NHL had long waits deep into the second day to see their dreams realized while others went completely unnoticed only to resurface as free agents years later.
While the Leafs made the decision not to renew Marlies coach Greg Gilbert, some of the players are truly on the ball.
Hockey’s Future, the renowned hockey prospects website, announced their Spring Organizational Rankings today and the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in the bottom tier of the league at #23. The ranking is based on an assessment of a team’s farm system, which takes into account the amount of star power and depth that is likely to be produced. For a team in “rebuilding” mode, that’s not a flattering number to see.
Slow times in Leafland these days, so let’s have a crack at a couple of those questions.
Christian Hanson’s getting ready to make his NHL debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tyler Bozak is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. But according to multiple news outlets, Brian Burke’s just getting warmed up. Next on his list: Boston University’s Matt Gilroy and Northeastern University’s Brad Thiessen.
As the goals against continue to pile up, so do the questions regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs’ future between the pipes. Last night’s 7-5 drubbing at the hands of the Boston Bruins officially moved the Leafs to the basement of the NHL in terms of goaltending and defensive play with an astounding total of 274 goals allowed (3.41 GAA). Combine that with a league worst 88.4% save percentage and you’ve got some serious issues. The team directly above them? Andrew Raycroft and the Colorado Avalanche. Ugh.
A March meeting with a solid team in the playoff chase (yes, that’s actually Florida I’m talking about here) went pretty much as expected.Â Signs of life from the Maple Leafs were quickly overwhelmed by the desperation and talent (surprise! again!) of this Panthers squad.Â Sadly, this tussle lacked the fan factor that made Tuesday night’s game in Tampa a joy to watch.
Martin Gerber stole this game for the Toronto Maple Leafs.Â A few months ago, that sentence would have made absolutely no sense for so many reasons.Â In his first game as a Leaf, Gerber played in a fashion that will make more than a few Senator fans shake their heads in frustration.Â Other than a late goal that broke his shutout, Toronto’s new Swiss goaltender stopped a Washington squad that has admittedly struggled of late.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have expressed interest in putting in a waiver claim on veteran goaltender Martin Gerber. It’s speculated that this surprising interest may be a result of two possible scenarios:
#1 – The Leafs have lined up an appropriate trading partner for Toskala and need a veteran goalie to stick in the net for the rest of the season.
#2 – As rumored for the past few weeks, Toskala may indeed be hurting and the Leafs may choose to shut him down for the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery.
-Draft pick be damned, being 7-1-1 in our last nine against the Senators is truly heart-warming. P.S., it’s time to point the finger where it needs to be pointed, Bryan Murray… trade Jason Spezza and shake things up in the old country club. Also trade Nick Foligno. To us. For Hollweg.
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