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."
It took sometime to manifest, prolonged in the wake of shoulder surgery and stunted contract talks, but the September 10th news that negotiations between the Boston Bruins, Wade Arnott and Phil Kessel had come to an impasse reignited the rumor mill that has surrounded the Leafs and the Madison, Wisconsin sniper since Brian Burke first tabled Tomas Kaberle in the infamous draft day â€œmisunderstanding.â€
In the week that has passed since negotiations broke down, the value of Kessel has skyrocketed beyond the original RFA compensation of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round selection in the 2010 draft.
The Maple Leafs began on-ice workouts today at their new practice facility, the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence.
Iâ€™ve been given credentials and was on site for the first day and will be attending all three days of on ice practice.
The following are a series of notes from Day 1 â€¦
With under two weeks until the pre-season debuts, many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs continue to ponder which players will make the cut come opening night against the Montreal Canadiens. Players like Jiri Tlusty, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, Nazim Kadri and others will be competing for employment at the National Hockey League level. However, the rigors of the NHL regular season far exceeds that of the pre-season, and as a result many players have failed to maintain their newfound success.
Author: B Leaf
Last season, the Leafs were 10th in scoring (244) and 9th in shots on goal (2,603). There is no major reason why that number should drop other than the loss of Antropov. There are other players who should have better years and help fill his ice time with similar results. On the powerplay, the Leafs were middle of the road at 16th. The Leafs were a respectable 17th in shots allowed (2481), but were a league worst in goals against (286). The PK% was also a league worst. Not all the blame can be placed on the goaltending, but a lot of it can. The collective save percentage for the team was an abysmal .885%.
Among the group of UFAâ€™s: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Wayne Primeau, Jamal Mayers, Ben Ondrus, Mike Van Ryn, Jonas Frogren, Garnet Exelby, Joey Macdonald and Vesa Toskala.
Among the group of RFAâ€™s: Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell, Christian Hanson, Jiri Tlusty, Andre Deveaux, Ian White, Phil Oreskovic and Jonas Gustavsson.
What does this mean for the Leafs? Potentially, it could result in a playoff-berth for the Buds, who haven't made the big dance since the 2003-04 season. If some of the Leafs' core players take advantage of their contract years, thus playing beyond their established level, making the playoffs can be a distinct possibility.
A few days ago, we took a brief look at some of Gabriel Desjardins' statistical work from behindthenet.ca. Using the junior hockey performance translator, we managed to project the future AHL/NHL impact for some of the Leafs' bright young stars. The best and brightest of those stars is a 21 year old Czech forward by the name of Jiri Tlusty, a player who is going to take Leafs Nation by storm in the upcoming seasons. And now, I'm going to show you why. [more…]
Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team's top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it's hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he's going to be a very special player for a long, long time.
On the flip side, you've also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was "Who the heck is Peter Lee?" Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all... Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don't mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean? [more…]
With Brian Burke opting to bolster the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ defense this off-season, many critics have pondered whether the current group of forwards are talented enough to propel the Leafs into the playoffs.
That question depends largely on the Leafsâ€™ young forwards, such as Nikolai Kulemin, Jiri Tlusty, Matt Stajan and Mikhail Grabovski. But amongst those listed, one player in particular will be expected to lead the charge offensively. And that is the ultra-talented but inconsistent Grabovski.
So Nik Zherdev is officially an Unrestricted Free Agent. And of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be interested in the streaky 24 year-old forwardâ€”when are they not rumored to be interested in a specific player? I don't know what the consensus of Leafs Nation is, but this Leafs fan is hoping Brian Burke doesn't touch Zherdev with a ten-foot pole.
Yes, I know ... it's been a looooong time since I've posted anything here, but there is reason, and not because it's off season. You'll see a lot more frequent postings moving forward.
I've been working on the fantasy staple, McKeen's Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook, writing up player scouting notes for about a dozen players each for all 30 teams.
Just finished up with my predictions for the NHL and thought it would a good discussion point for Leafs fans. The predictions process is a team effort for the Yearbook, but these were my contributions for the Maple Leafs next season.