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    After recovering from the initial shock of the Leafs trading yet another highly rated, potentially top end prospect (Tlusty in this case) for picks, prospects (Paradis in this case) or players who at best can be defined as “depth” acquisitions, I decided to sit back, absorb all of the feedback and coverage from this transaction and form an opinion based on rational thought processes and any available factual information.  Past my initial, oh no, here we go again feeling, I was uncertain as to my actual opinion on this deal.  After all, I have never seen the young Paradis play, knew very little about this prospect, and the only information I had available was that he was a late 1st round pick in last years entry draft.  So, I decided to err on the side of caution and keep my initial opinion on this transaction to myself.  After researching this prospect, reading the various scouting reports and watching some film, it became rather apparent that Mr Burke had traded a potential top 6 type of sniper for a 3rd-4th line character guy.  Someone who was physical, had speed, was fearless and could become a real heart and soul leader on an NHL roster one day.  Considering the intangibles this player could potentially bring down the road, I was willing to overlook the obvious imaginary offensive upside Mr Burke was touting with this prospect and the projections of a top 6 “power forward” type in the NHL and was settling in with a comfortable neutral, “Wait and See” decision on this transaction.


      As per Darren Dreger Twitter:
      “Christian Hanson expected to be called up by Leafs.”


      I think eventually all of Tyler Bozak, Victor Stalberg and Jiri Tlusty will be given more auditions this season. Maybe even finish the season with the big club.


        Having literally begged and pleaded since before the pre-season for the Maple Leafs to run with their youth and play any semblance of NHL ready prospects and players available to them, is this horrific start actually bad enough and embarassing enough to force Mr Burke to finally and mercifully bring on the youth movement this team has so desparately required for the last decade?


          A dreadful 3-11-5 start for the Maple Leafs has everyone asking the same two questions. What the heck happened? And what the heck is the solution?


            - The Toronto Sun has details about a bargain opportunity on November 22nd: the chance to watch both the Leafs and Marlies practice at Ricoh that Sunday, and then attend the Marlies vs. Lake Erie Monsters at 4pm all for as little as $10. I suggest those of you interested in catching a glimpse at the likes of Mikus, Bozak, Stalberg, Hanson and Tlusty make use of this pretty decent deal.

            - Jeff Blair explains that coach Ron Wilson is prepared to bench Schenn if he is unwilling to play a more agressive, physical style of game. Wilson added that he will not hesitate to insert Gunnarsson quickly into the lineup if someone begins to scuffle.

            - TSN begins to stir up the early season rumors a little bit by hinting at the possibility that Scott Niedermayer and Fabian Brunnstrom could be on the trading block. While Burke surely loves Scott, there’s already a logjam on defense at it is and the required pricetag would likely be out of Toronto’s range anyways without a 1st round pick to dangle in return. Brunnstrom on the other hand may be an intriguing fit as a skilled young forward, but he has struggled out of the gate thus far and did after all turn down the chance to play for the Leafs last summer.

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              I must confess, I bought in.  I bought into the mantra of improved team toughness, improved goaltending, improved and revamped defense, and an improved top6 forward unit possessing speed and skill who would be protected and insulated by a tough as nails complimentary group of players.  I watched the pre-season and was salivating at the skill, speed, and determination exhibited by the up and coming Leafs prospects.  But, then something very strange happened, something I cannot comprehend nor understand.  Every single player (with the exception of Stalberg), which had led to such optimism and belief of brighter days ahead – were demoted to the OHL or the AHL.  I sat there shaking my head, and privately and publicly went on and on about how this team could not succeed without the youth.  Ironically enough, I had absolutely no idea how right I was and how bad this could and would get.


                Five games in, no wins, and few positives within the play to indicate a turnaround is coming soon.

                Something has to be done to shake up this roster.   Some sort of move needs to be made, that much is clear.

                The question is, what?


                  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.


                    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.


                      The following are the team lineups as per MapleLeafs.com. It does feature the kid line of Bozak, Stalberg and Hanson, but they are separated. Curious if that will remain the same for tonight’s affair in order to see what they can all do with other players.


                        The baby Leafs cruised past a Philadelphia Flyers B team playing an increasingly dirty game Thursday evening. The first victory in a, so-far, entertaining pre-season; the Leafs acquitted themselves well with a lineup that could be argued weaker than that iced the night previous.


                          -The Leafs have to compensate for their lack of roster depth and the fact that Chiarelli is reticent to trade within the division by offering up a substantial package.
                          -As reported there are variations on the deal-including two #1s plus. Names have also been bandied about – White, Poni, Tlusty, Stalberg, Kulemin.
                          -There is not an overwhelming consensus within the organization that this is a good move – Nonis is notorious for holding onto picks and believes in building through the draft.
                          -Burke believes he can replenish the picks, to a certain extent, through trade


                            In the final game of the rookie tournament, the Leafs’ rookies were beaten soundly — to the tune of 7-1 — by their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.

                            Although I was not able to attend this game in person, fellow Leafs die-harder ‘Bell’ was in attendance for all of the games and has kindly provided some thoughts about the action (or was it inaction?) at the Aud last night, and the tournament as a whole.


                              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.


                                While many of us were toiling away on “live online blogs” to get our hockey fix, a few MLHS writers were fortunate enough to make the trip down to see Game 2 of the rookie tournament in Kitchener against the Boston Bruins. Down at the rink, MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros managed to sneak in a few minutes with Leaf GM Brian Burke and rookie Nazem Kadri to chat about the game and the upcoming season.


                                  Earlier this week, I was able to catch up with a few Leafs at Lakeshore Lions Arena. I’ve gone a few times already this August, and the closer we get to the opening of camp, more and more players are showing up. Notable attendants have included Finger, Tlusty, Bozak, Hamilton, both Mitchells, Schenn, The Monster, Toskala, Mayers, Poni, Stajan and Oreskovic. More than likely, some players were missing due to Olympic camp tryouts and practices.


                                    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.


                                      Maple Leafs’ GM Brian Burke, per the Toronto Star:

                                      “We intend to be pushing the cap every year. We want to spend the money intelligently. We’re Big Blue, we’re going to spend to the cap.”

                                      Now, your initial reaction to that is probably one of surprise, given Burke’s previous statements about a potential cap decline.    Does that mean his statement today runs counter to the theory of a rebuilding effort?     Not at all.


                                        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.


                                          A quick update containing some news that surfaced last night… the Maple Leafs have inked 20-year-old left-winger Robert Slaney of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles to a three-year, entry-level contract, according to the Screaming Eagles’ official website.