As usual, Brian Burke looks and sounds really confident. "Clarke MacArthur has arbitration rights and he may well file for arbitration. We're fine if that's what he chooses," said Burke. "We have a lot of financial clout behind this team and we have a lot of cap space. We're not worried about someone trying to take a player out of here through an offer sheet and we anticipate we'll be able to re-sign all the players we want to re-sign."
Considering how fond the management and coaching staff are of MacArthur,Â the fact his contract status remains an unsolved problem for the Leafs is somewhat surprising. On the other hand, him having a career year while being the league's best bargain last season in Clarke's mind could just as easily warrant a big pay day.
We could argue both sides equally. Clarke doesnâ€™t fit the bill of a greedy player. He clearly stated he wants to stay in Toronto, and showed heâ€™s a emotional, character player who played his heart out for the Leafs last season. On the other hand, we know how reluctant Burke is when it comes to giving significant salary increases to one year wonders. The differential between his second best season in the league and his career high last season is almost double in points; it's no wonder this is a tough negotiation in which Burke is playing hardball.
July 1st is finally here and regardless of a limited pool of exciting free agents, expectations in Leafs Nation are once again sky high. The big fish is obviously Brad Richards, a 31 year old skilled passing center, out of Murray Harbour, P.E.I., Canada.
Obviously, the biggest and most discussed need the Leafs have is at that top line center position and thatâ€™s exactly where the majority of fans and pundits keep putting Richards. His offensive acumen, imagination and playmaking ability would surely benefit Phil Kessel and his leadership already helped the development of players like Jamie Benn and Loui Eriksson.
Brad Richards tallied 90+ points twice in the NHL (91 both times) and crossed the 70 point plateau four more times. He was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy for his efforts during the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Stanley Cup run and was selected for the All Star game in 2010-11. Such a player would certainly help the Leafs gain instant playoff credibility around the league but would undoubtedly come with a long term price tag.
If you count today, there are just four days left until July 1st, a day when Brad Richards hits free agency and hopefully, Toronto. As nerve-wracking at it might be, there are no other options but to wait and hope for the best.
However, I wonâ€™t be talking about Brad Richards today. I know the teamâ€™s prime need comes in the form of a top flight, highly skilled No1 C, but are other interesting names to consider for the bottom six positions.
Max Talbot can play all three forward positions. He excels as a penalty killer and brings a high amount of leadership qualities to boot. One of his biggest strengths just might be his performance in clutch games and the postseason. Talbot was an integral part of the Penguins Stanley Cup run in the 2008-2009 season fighting Dan Carcillo and willing the team to very important Game 3, 6-3 victory over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals over the Flyers. In Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Detroit in Joe Louis Arena Talbot scored both goals in a 2-1 victory. During that run, he had 13 points, 8 goals and was +8 in the postseason.
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 [more…]
Amid the speculation surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers and their cap aches, it was bound to happen that the Leafsâ€™ name would get thrown into the mix. After all, whatâ€™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 â€“ simply because the Flyers are in such a jam right now and have to move salary.
As if the Versteeg deal hasnâ€™t turned out good enough, it has effectively compounded the Flyersâ€™ cap troubles even further.Ville Leino canâ€™t be signed without moving out some other cash and Philadelphia are still in desperate, desperate need of a goalie.
Itâ€™sÂ 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 doesnâ€™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 teamsâ€™ 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.
By now weâ€™ve all jostled with the idea of the Leafs landing Brad Richards in some way or other. These thingsÂ tend to happen when itâ€™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 Richardsâ€™ 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 heâ€™d likely become a Ranger in the off-season. Returning to the free agency list, a few people began to throw around Brooks Laichâ€™s name â€“ 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 Iâ€™ve had a change of heart (or hope).
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!
Updated scouting reports for recent call ups Nazem Kadri and Matt Lashoff (with files from Clayton Hansler):
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) .. [more…]
The stretch drive is on and teams are aware of the implications of every game. Three-point games make the average fan cringe while driving NHL management crazy.
Yesterday we point out the records of teams when playing a tired team on the second night of back-to-back games
The following show how many games are left for each team taking advantage of tired teams, and opponents faced as the tired team.
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.
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.