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Leafs

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According to Darren Dreger of TSN, the Leafs have acquired Colorado Avalanche defenseman John-Michael Liles for the 2012 conditional 2nd round pick acquired in the Tomas Kaberle trade with Boston. The Leafs give up a pick they likely never expected to get and flip it for their puck mover and PP QB to replace Kaberle for a season. Think of it as Joe Colborne, a 1st and JM Liles for Kaberle. The only downside here is the $4.2 million cap hit, and possibly if you are a Carl Gunnarsson fan. Liles’ contract has only one year left on the books though, so this is likely a stopgap solution while the Leafs groom Jake Gardiner on the farm. He’s not a bad stopgap at that; his 46 points last season ranked him sixteenth in points among defencemen last season. For comparison’s sake, he notched one less point than Kaberle in 6 less games. He also quarterbacked the 11th best powerplay in the league last season. He’s no defensive stud but used properly (insulated with soft minutes), he’ll serve his purpose here for 2011-12.

The Leafs’ cap situation now sits at 18.7M in cap space (with about 5 players left to sign), per mlse.

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Amid the speculation surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers and their cap aches, it was bound to happen that the Leafs’ name would get thrown into the mix. After all, what’s a rumor about a big name NHL player without Toronto somewhere in the headline?

However, much like a few years back, the recent Jeff Carter rumors actually make a lot of sense – simply because the Flyers are in such a jam right now and have to move salary.

As if the Versteeg deal hasn’t turned out good enough, it has effectively compounded the Flyers’ cap troubles even further.Ville Leino can’t be signed without moving out some other cash and Philadelphia are still in desperate, desperate need of a goalie.

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Photo Credit: Marie Hallman, nyheter24.se

It’s typically a fan problem, if you can call it that. Many fans, long time or casual, only care about the flair, the spotlight. They care about the guys who make the big bucks and pull us out of our seats on a nightly basis. Nobody is immune to the highlight reel goal that a certain highly touted Finnish prospect scores in a World Championships semifinal but even the casual fan understands the game is about more than that, even if he/she doesn’t care about Mike Brown.

A team can never have too many energy players that can put the puck into the net. Secondary scoring, grinding and puck pursuit is a vital cog in any teams’ success. Not that we lack historical examples, but just ask Tampa Bay and Sean Bergenheim for a more contemporary one. Ladies and gentlemen, I present Daniel Brodin.

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Photo Credit: Getty Images

By now we’ve all jostled with the idea of the Leafs landing Brad Richards in some way or other. These things tend to happen when it’s basically been talked about for over a year prior to his upcoming free agency period.

Much like Rick Nash in the past, Leafs fans have plotted their potential line combinations with Richards’ name embedded on the top unit for some time now.

For me, the Richards idea sort of fell by the wayside a while ago as I came to grips with the fact that he’d likely become a Ranger in the off-season. Returning to the free agency list, a few people began to throw around Brooks Laich’s name – which, I think, is a great thing. But the Richards situation has sort of resurfaced for me over the past week or so, and I think I’ve had a change of heart (or hope).

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Come On TV!

High quality stream available here.

No, there is no Leafs game tonight, but it’s not like you won’t be watching the Rangers take on Buffalo so we thought it might be a good idea to have that game discussion here. You know, sending those positive Leaf vibrations to the Rangers. We will provide all the necessary streams and a preview for your viewing pleasure provided you pick up that Sabres voodoo doll and stick some pins in for a good cause. Just this once, go regulation Rangers!

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He's back. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Updated scouting reports for recent call ups Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff (with files from Clayton Hansler):

Nazem Kadri
Ranked 7th in AHL rookie scoring with 41 pts (44-17-24-41) and second overall in the AHL with eight first goals .. Kadri has adapted to some added bulk and cranked up the toughness .. isn’t afraid to engage in tight and along the boards .. physical game isn’t his forte however, despite improvement, and he relies on skills and dangles .. can waiver with intensity blending into the background, yet explosive enough to be able to exploit breakdowns and set up scoring chances seemingly out of nowhere that can change the tide of a game (first goals to open the game are an example) ..

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NHL Team Records in B2B Games vs Tired Teams

With the NHL trade deadline now over, attention turns to the stretch drive for a playoff spot. The concept of a 3-point game will be in vogue as teams – and fans – cringe at the sight of so many teams entering extra time to determine the final outcome of games, while each club banks a point.

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Phil Kessel made a statement today. A big one. It’s now put Brian Burke between a rock and a hard place. A decision must be made and it looks as though the Leafs (arguably) best sniper has put that responsibility on Brian Burke and only Brian Burke.

“It’s not working out here,” said a frustrated Kessel after being demoted to the third line during practice on Sunday. He’s now sitting on the right wing of one Darryl Boyce and one Joey Crabb. “Maybe there needs to be a change.”

Phil Kessel has sounded an alarm today, and all Leafs fans should be listening.

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After surviving fans literally chanting for his head at the ACC, receiving the backing of Brian Burke with a very believable reaffirmation and absorbing the endless abuse from fans on every Leaf related website on the internet, Ron Wilson is still left standing.  The scape goat that the entire Leafs Nation wanted to noose for their team’s lousy performance coupled with the potential consecutive lottery pick finishes without possessing a lottery pick seems to be getting the last laugh. Burke did the right thing by refusing to scapegoat Wilson.  Will he now retain Wilson for next season and possibly sign an extension for beyond?

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    In early December, waffles were thrown after a Leaf game. Since then, waffles have become a bit of a statement in the Maple Leafs community. The media has called it “The Year of the Waffle” and “Waffle-Gate”, and at a mid-December meeting between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Atlanta Thrashers, one fan in particular felt the need to express his disapproval of the on-ice product. That man is Joe Robb.

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      Waffle Guy of The Checking Line wrote his own rendition of the Night Before Christmas, but based it on the Leafs and waffles. I thought it would be a nice little read for all of us for the holidays. Merry Christmas and happy holidays. Hopefully Santa can bring us all more wins.

      Twas the night before Christmas, when all through Leafs nation
      Not a fan was cheering, and no standing ovation;
      The players were stung by a pair of quick goals,
      And had hopes of digging themselves out of their hole;

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      mapleleafs.com

      Nearing in on his first full year wearing a blue and white sweater, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf is ready to return to his NHL roots as Toronto visits the Calgary Flames in their second game of a Western road swing.

      The Flames were a struggling team looking for a desperate change in their core and it came in a deal with Toronto that earned them Ian White (now a member of the Carolina Hurricanes), Matt Stajan (who has recently returned from injury), Niklas Hagman (who has, at times, shown brilliant chemistry with fellow countryman Olli Jokinen), and Jamal Mayers (who cares about him).

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      The potential sports story of the decade for the city of Toronto, and more specifically, fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs is unfolding right before our eyes.  The legitimacy of the potential sale of MLSE to Rogers should not be easily dismissed.  The rumoured sale simply makes sense for all parties involved.  The recent announcement of the pending retirement of MLSE CEO Richard Peddie now starts to bring the picture into focus and adds significant legitimacy to the Toronto Star report of MLSE share sales from the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) to Rogers Inc.  The fact that the Richard Peddie retirement was announced just before this story broke, absolutely stinks of premeditated public transition planning.  Personally, I must admit, I knew there was much more to the Mr. Peddie pending retirement announcement, but, I simply had no idea how deep this rabbit hole would go.  Speculation and associated questions today, from all corners of the sports and business communities is running rampant.  Why would the OTPP sell off their stake in this cash cow?  What Return on Investment can Rogers Inc garner on a $1.3B purchase of an asset generating an approximate $160M in profit each year, especially considering that the real estate assets are thought to be excluded from the deal?

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      The Toronto Maple Leafs have become a team of inconsistency. In their quest to finish higher than last season, Toronto has rushed into certain games with speed and tenacity, while in others they have dwindled and failed to produce a single point. Over the last four weeks, the latter seems to have become the new identity of the team. Recently, the only true star the team possesses is one Jonas Gustavsson, but when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Steven Stamkos stroll into town for their second meeting of the season, the Leafs will have to be better than good.

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      The Dallas Stars and (future Leafs center) Brad Richards come into town tonight looking to extend a recent streak of hot play (2-0-1). Despite a respectable record and a potent offense, the Stars sit at the bottom of a very competitive Pacific Division. Meanwhile, Toronto will be eager to bounce back from a blanking at the hands of Carey Price and the Canadiens while regaining the offensive groove that had seen them win their two previous games.

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      Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

      Update: Ron Wilson must read MLHS – After much outrage it appears Brett Lebda will not be in the line up tonight. Carl Gunnarsson and Keith Aulie will play.

      Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs look to continue their recent scoring streak against the New Jersey Devils. Both teams are looking to escape the bottom half of the Eastern Conference, and each are sporting a similar record over their last ten games: New Jersey (3-6-1), Toronto (2-6-2). Jonas Gustavsson will get the start for the Leafs tonight as J.S. Giguere will be sidelined for a week or two with a groin injury.

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      The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered a bit of a loss in their win last night against the Nashville Predators. Midway through the third period, goaltender J.S. Giguere suffered an undisclosed injury (believed to be groin), and sat out the remainder of the game. He will now be out of the lineup for at least tomorrow night’s game against the New Jersey Devils. In his absence, Toronto has called up goaltender James Reimer from the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Reimer has appeared in 9 games this season for the Marlies, posting a record of 5-3-1 with one shutout, a 2.90 goals against average and a 0.918 save percentage. Reimer will play the role of back-up goaltender to Jonas Gustavsson on Thursday night, but could see NHL action should Giguere’s injury be more long-term.

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      Frederick Breedon/AP

      Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs host the Nashville Predators at the ACC and are looking to finally sever their connection with their mistress – Ms. Losestreak. Nashville enters the match-up looking to extend a small winning streak to three games, while Toronto has lost their last four games at home. Their last win at home was also their last 2 point game prior to the streak, when they defeated the Florida Panthers 3-1 thanks to Colton “The Magician” Orr. I went with magician because he did a fine job of making a goaltender suddenly disappear.

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      MLHS Update: Richard Peddie is out as MLSE President/CEO according to Greg Brady. Given the state of MLSE’s three sports teams at the moment, this can’t come off as a major surprise.

      The Toronto Maple Leafs complete their back to back Sunshine State games tonight as they visit the Florida Panthers, but there are issues starting to arise in the dressing room. During their 4-0 shutout loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, I thought I would eventually see J.S. Giguere pull a Patrick Roy and start throwing the puck in his own net before demanding a trade from a Toronto team that does not seem to have any idea how to score a goal. Instead, he saved his frustrations for after the game when he called out his teammates for being lazy.