The feeling as the Leafs embark on this year’s unrestricted free agency period is that Brian Burke is not enamored with the ’09 free agent class and will neither overpay in salary or term. It appears Burke’s focused on acquiring his high-end talent through trade.Â In regards to the long-rumoured Mike Cammalleri signing, the word right now is that he’s not on the radar although this is certainly subject to change should circumstances change.Â More likely, if Burke can move Kaberle and/or Kubina and sign Jonas Gustavsson, the approach will be to strengthen from the goal out and thus most money will be allotted to high-end D rather than forwards at this time.
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.
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.
I’ve been trading a few emails of late with some “non-sources” (I want to be very clear about that) employed by various media outlets in the Toronto area, to get their take on the rapidly-churning Maple Leafs’ rumour mill.
Although these folks are obviously not directly tied to anyone you would call a “source” affiliated with a team, their insight is often valuable as they are privy to more of the backroom chatter with those who are connected to the so-called “sources”.
For the second year in a row, Team Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in yesterday’s gold medal game at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland. Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and the Russian defense managed for the most part to keep a prolific Canadian offense in check.
Slow times in Leafland these days, so let’s have a crack at a couple of those questions.
Finally some movement on the Jonas Gustavsson front, the 24 year old star netminder of the Swedish Elite League. From the Toronto Sun: “According to a Swedish source familiar with the situation, Burke will be in the Danish capital of Copenhagen today to meet with Par Larsson, Gustavsson’s Swedish-based agent. ”
As per TSN, the Rangers have signed Boston University free agent defenseman Matt Gilroy, winner of the Hobey Baker Award as this year’s best college hockey player. It is believed Gilroy and the Rangers have agreed to terms in the 2 year, $3-4 million range. Burke’s been seriously interested in Gilroy for a few years now but he appears to have balked at the ultimate signing price on the New York native (could this have played a role as well?). It’s obviously a letdown, but sometimes the best signings are the ones you don’t make. Time will only tell if Burke was right to stick to his guns here.
According to Swedish sports newspaper Aftonbladet, the Maple Leafs are frontrunners for the services of Farjestads goaltender Jonas Gustavsson as the 24-year-old sets his sights on crossing the pond for the ’09/’10 season.
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.