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Gus Katsaros

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Kessel will see his first action of the 2010 preseason.

After a disappointing Fans First preseason opener, the small upside of this overtaxing preseason schedule is that the Leafs get right back at it tonight, against the same opponents and with what appears to be a stronger line-up than last night’s edition. Tyler Bozak, Nikolai Kulemin, Phil Kessel, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski all sub in up front while Luke Schenn, Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin will get their first tastes on the back end. Meanwhile, the Senators will ice a similar line-up to last night and will again sit their big names as all of Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza, Alex Kovalev, Milan Michalek and Chris Phillips did not make the trip to Toronto.

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After months of nothing but Kaberle rumours and Grabovski lawsuits, Leafs Nation will finally get a glimpse of their 2010-2011 Toronto Maple Leafs.  Being the first game of the preseason, Toronto is going with a healthy mix of youngsters, borderliners, and veterans.  Luckily, fans will not have to wait to see most of the new Leafs (Clarke MacArthur excepted) as off-season acquisitions Versteeg, Armstrong, Brown and Lebda will all be hitting the ice.

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Finally, the moment a lot of us have been waiting for is upon us.  The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Tuesday afternoon the full roster of players who will represent the blue and white at the 2010 rookie tournament, taking place this weekend in London, Ontario.  The event runs from September 11th to the 14th at the John Labatt Centre, and remember Maple Leafs Hot Stove will have wall-to-wall coverage and unprecedented access.

A tap of the pads to Gus Katsaros for providing me the email.

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Last Wednesday (September 1st), Toronto’s MasterCard Centre for Excellence, the Maple Leafs’ own practice facility, played host to the 2010 NHLPA Rookie Symposium in association with trading card leaders Upper Deck and Panini America. MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros was in attendance, and has kindly provided audio from his own conversation, as well as portions of a larger media scrum Q&A, with Leafs’ top prospect Nazem Kadri.

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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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Kenny Ryan

Kenny RyanLast night, the London Knights – and Leafs prospect Nazem Kadri – were eliminated from the OHL playoffs in a Game 7 blowout at the hands of the Kitchener Rangers.

For his part, Kadri makes his playoff exit as the OHL’s post-season scoring leader with a remarkable 9 goals and 18 assists in 12 games.

The Kitchener Rangers will now move on to face the defending-champ Windsor Spitfires, whose own lineup features a couple of Leafs’ prospects: forwards Dale Mitchell and Kenny Ryan (pictured).

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We will do an extended Torontosaurus Rex after preparing for the playoffs is over, later on in the week. But since the regular season is over, it’s time for some numbers. It’s also interesting to note how the two teams Flyers and Rangers with the lowest amount of shootout games with six, decided their playoff fates with a shootout.

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    The Torontosaurus Rex for Week 23 is fitting and also notoriously absent from the only Leafs extra time loss in the last seven overtime/shootout games. In that loss, the Maple Leafs and Penguins tied a dubious NHL record, one night after the Leafs/Rangers surpassed 100 overtime games in the NHL this season.

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      It’s Tuesday, and you know what that means .. it’s Tuesday Prospect Report brought to you by the talented Bloge Salming.

      This week’s feature is on a player most already have some sort of inkling about, Carl Gunnarsson.

      Take a moment to let us know how you are enjoying these reports. Leave a comment here, or on the Bloge Salming site (and make sure you check out the array of various videos.)

      Gus Katsaros

      katshockey [at] mapleleafshotstove.com
      twitter.com/@KatsHockey

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        Ever since the Leafs’ late-offseason acquisition of Phil Kessel, his performance has been (understandably) heavily-scrutinized in the face of the hefty amount of futures given up to secure the extremely talented winger.

        Kessel’s season has, in some ways, mirrored that of his teammates, with periods of great productivity followed by periods of near-invisibility. However, considering a host of issues which seemingly stood in the way of a productive season, including significant shoulder surgery, causing him to miss out on training camp, and the lack of talent surrounding him, the Leafs’ young sniper has produced at a rate which, in the context of the aforementioned factors, is actually quite impressive.

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          Setting up a goal for the Leafs in lieu of a playoff spot, making up seven points to get out of the NHL basement is a good start .. but just how difficult will it be?

          Let’s find out together.

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            Where will goals come from? Toronto softened offensively with the moves on the weekend and questions abound about who will put the puck in the net moving forward.

            Maybe it’s not about who will make up the scoring; instead, with all these moves – and proved in the 3-0 win over the Devils – in the Leafs case, the best offense, is a solid defense.

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              TORONTO — Leafs general manager, Brian Burke, has repeatedly stated he will not ask Tomas Kaberle to waive his NTC. This situation, however, could be key to shoring up the goaltending the Leafs need.

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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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                  Wanted to take a minute and congratulate our very own Gus Katsaros on his segment on the Fan590 this afternoon.  Outstanding analysis of both the Phil Kessel/Savard relationship and analysis of the Boston Bruins schedule last year vs this year.  The little snip at Mr MacLean at the end was priceless as well..  Congrats Gus, and again, wonderful work..

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                    The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.