One of the more interesting subplots to the Maple Leafs’ 2010-11 preseason has been the Michael Liambas situation. Offered a tryout – amidst much fanfare – in time for the team’s annual Rookie Camp, the infamous winger was ultimately released on Thursday, during the first round of cuts at the NHL training camp.
Ordinarily, such a move would be regarded as no more than a footnote, a regular or even “to be expected” occurrence which takes place in any training camp. But Liambas’ situation was – and remains – anything but ordinary.
In part eight of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at the past year that has been for Tomas Kaberle, and whether he can put it all behind him and play at the top of his game.
Yes, I know. Â Yet another article dissecting the recent events that have surrounded Tomas Kaberle. Â I will pause briefly and let everyone get out that large groan now.
There, now that’s out of the way.
Easily the longest serving member of the Toronto Maple Leafs on this current incarnation of the team, Tomas Kaberle has more or less seen it all in Toronto. Â Over the past eight years he has seen highs and lows, heroes and heartbreak, and has been entrenched as a constant on the Leafs blueline.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Jeff Finger, profiled by Alec Brownscombe.
A former 1999 eighth round pick, Jeff Finger came to the Leafs via unrestricted free agency as a 29-year-old who was skating in the ECHL the last time Toronto made the playoffs. After his first steady NHL season with Colorado in ’07-08, Cliff Fletcher rolled the dice on a $3 million-per-year raise for the journeyman that will cost the Leafs 3.5 million against the cap annually until 2012. Fletcher obviously thought there was a lot more to come from Finger in his late development as a two-way defenceman, but let’s just say on that fateful day in July, 2008, the optics weren’t good.
It was reported yesterday that former New York Rangers back up goaltender, Steve Valiquette, will be heading to the KHL next season. Today, it appears more movement will be taking place from the Rangers organization as newly acquired Olli Jokinen is currently in discussions with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.
Dion Phaneuf was far and away the biggest name exchanging teams in the Toronto-Calgary deal on Sunday morning, and as a result, young defenseman Keith Aulie may have gotten a little overlooked in the shuffle. But make no mistake about it: Aulie was a significant piece in this trade for Brian Burke and the huge, imposing blueliner should figure prominently in the Maple Leafs’ defensive core of the future. Let’s take a look at what the newest Maple Leafs’ prospect could bring to the table in a few years time.
Sportsnet is reporting that the Maple Leafs have extended a qualifying offer to goaltender Justin Pogge, thus making him a restricted free agent. The team now has the ability to match any offer sheet Pogge receives, or choose to decline to get draft picks as compensation.
Today’s 5pm qualiying deadline saw a few interesting young players hit the UFA market: D Steve Eminger, LW Dan Fristche, C Marcel Goc, RW Anthony Stewart. Eminger has a boatload of talent, while the three other names may make for intriguing bottom six forward possibilities.
Also of note, veterans LW Peter Schaefer and D Jay Mckee have been placed on waivers by their respective clubs with the anticipation that they will be bought out. Mckee, one of the league’s perennial top shot blockers, may be a good fit as a veteran leader in the locker room and steadying presence on the blueline should Kaberle and/or Kubina be shipped out during the offseason.
This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.Â So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.
Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.
In the MLSE land of unreasonable expectations, even a superstar troupe like Burke and Wilson will not be afforded another record breaking season; at least not if said record is a fifth consecutive season of playoff free hockey. Subsequently Burke is going to be looking for a catalyst to the rebuilding project come summer and the most obvious route will arrive in early July, not a week earlier in Montreal.
Rewind a year to Ottawa, when interim GM Cliff Fletcher was preparing to make his last great splash. Trading up to secure hard hitting blueliner Luke Schenn, a player unto which the Leafs hoped to bank their revival, set in motion a summer of upheaval paving the way for Brian Burke to step in mid-season. For many the draft of 2008 marked an era of realization, that change was required and perhaps finally the Leafs were going to commit to a full scale rebuild based on the youth model in Pittsburgh.
Most recent Leafs trade talk in the mainstream media centers largely around Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. Just about enough has been mentioned on those fronts; Brian Burke will not compromise in his return demands for either of his coveted blue-liners and it appears that only time will tell. Here are three other interesting to trade or not to trade scenarios:
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Since the turn of the new millenium, Leaf fans have grown accustomed to seeingÂ aÂ lateÂ twenties’Â Bryan McCabe take charge of what was predominantly a veteran laden defense core. We’d often see him bellowing out orders from the bench, sticking up for his teammates even when it probably wasn’t in his best interest to do so (getting ragdolled by Chara comes to mind), or displaying a sense of passion and heart unmatched by any other Leaf blueliner. On the scoresheet, he was Toronto’s lone all-star defenseman not named Kaberle in recent memory, a 25 minute a night workhorse, and the all-time leader in PP goals among Leaf defensemen. Since the lockout, the Leafs have gone a dismal 11-22-4 without Bryan.