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Lee Stempniak


    After a short hiatus, Brian Burke has gotten right back on the horse. RDS and TSN are reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired checking forward Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in 2011 from the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Anton Stralman, forward Colin Stuart, and a 7th round pick in 2012. Primeau was limited to just 4 assists in 24 regular season games for Calgary last season due to a broken foot. The 33 year old carries 1 year left on his contract at a value of $1.4 million. Anton Stralman recorded 16 points in 36 AHL games and was named to the league’s all-star team last season.


      Coming into this offseason, GM Brian Burke promised to drastically overhaul the Maple Leafs roster, and he knew that the primary asset at his disposal was cap space: lots and lots of it. After handing out long-term contracts to Orr,  Beauchemin, and Komisarek, he’s got a little under $3 million left to play with in order to add an impact top six forward. In an attempt to minimize the amount of outgoing “talent” via trade, it’s no secret that he’s been trying to corner GM’s of teams that are pressed right up against the cap.


        Let’s take a break from the rumour mill, and have a look at where the Toronto Maple Leafs roster currently stands.

        With the draft a little over a month away, and free agency beginning shortly thereafter, it’s time to take a look at the current Maple Leafs’ roster, who is and is not under contract for next season, and the resultant depth at each position.


          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.


            Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
            From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0

            It’s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldn’t make fun, but feel bad for them…


              Now that the 2008-09 regular season has officially ended, it’s time to take a look back over the roster to assess each of the Maple Leafs’ players.

              Note that I’m only including players who finished the season with at least one game played for the Maple Leafs, and am excluding those traded away during the course of the season.

              Statistics for those who were acquired mid-season reflect games played as members of the Maple Leafs only.


                On a night where the stars were aligned for the first-pick lottery, where a Leafs loss coupled with Phoenix and Los Angeles wins would give the Leafs a chance at the #1 pick overall, a night where Phoenix and LA both did their part … the Maple Leafs took the high road and won the game.

                The end result is Toronto finishes with the 7th pick in the draft, entering this week’s lottery draw.


                  Courtesy of Sportsnet:

                  “The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the race to sign highly-touted free agent forward Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver Pioneers, sources tell Sportsnet. A strong two-way centre, Bozak has been generating league-wide interest since his freshman year with as many as 25 NHL teams trying to get his name on a contract.”


                    A March meeting with a solid team in the playoff chase (yes, that’s actually Florida I’m talking about here) went pretty much as expected.  Signs of life from the Maple Leafs were quickly overwhelmed by the desperation and talent (surprise! again!) of this Panthers squad.  Sadly, this tussle lacked the fan factor that made Tuesday night’s game in Tampa a joy to watch.


                      This Tuesday night matchup between two non-playoff teams went largely as predicted: sloppy play by both squads at various points throughout the night.  This was highlighted by a few fights and some thrilling overtime play.  Of course, the thrill factor of extra time has seen a slight decrease since it became a staple of Toronto games.  The most unusual events of the night were in fact goals by a few slump-ridden Leafs.


                        While draft picks are high priority in any potential trade talks leading up to the March 4th deadline, Brian Burke is also said to be targeting a group of young but already established NHLers, according to a source.


                          John Mitchell capturing fastest skater honours was the revelation of today’s team skills competition. I could’ve predicted the team with Jason Blake and Dominic Moore would’ve won the event but I’m surprised Mitchell clocked in with the best individual time. Here’s the team press release containing the results:


                            First of all, I know what you’re thinking, and we’re thinking it too; the “torch” for the upcoming Winter Games looks retarded. Anyways, it comes as no surprise as yet another team tries out their backup goaltender against the Leafs this season. Last year, by the end of January, the Leafs played 23 games against backup goaltenders in which they were 4-17-2. This year, same story, different team. Toskala looked to rebound back to his great 40 minutes in the Panthers game, but instead showed up as the guy who played the last 20 minutes and let in 3 goals in less than 10 minutes.


                              For all the hype surrounding the seemingly inevitable fight between Grabovksi and Kostitsyn, the two Belorussians were not quite at the forefront of a very chippy game between the Leafs and the Canadiens.  The animosity apparently encompassed both squads, as the tone was set early by a first period showdown between Georges Laraque and Brad May.  As is the case with most matchups of these two rivals in Montreal, the crowd’s energy fed into a quick-paced sixty minutes that saw both teams control the play in the offensive zone for lengths of time on end.


                                “Oh well, screw it.  It’s time to go on to the next one.”
                                Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender’s mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.  One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.  Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.


                                  fanIn a season where everyone either predicted or was warned the Leafs would place bottom 5 in the East, I’m a little surprised the team was booed by the club’s faithful fans in a tilt with the Nashville Predators.


                                    Random thoughts and opinions from (roughly) the halfway point of the season:

                                    * Glad to see the mustache is back in style.   In fact, when I was younger I grew a goatee just because everyone else was doing the ‘stache.  Then the ’93 Canadiens all grew goatees during their Cup run, and it became a social mainstay.   Yes, folks, it’s true: my hatred of the Habs has nothing to do with the Leafs, and everything to do with facial hair.


                                      So the Maple Leafs extend their tank-friendly stretch of non-success with a convincing 4-1 loss at the hands of the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, marking their seventh loss in their last nine games. As I snicker while watching Mats Sundin look equal parts lazy, fat and slow (yeah, he scored an empty net chance, so what), here are a few thoughts about tonight’s pedestrian performance from the Blue and White:


                                        I know, you’re worried about value for Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle. Well, don’t. Their recent performance(s) are killing their market value, right?

                                        No. Market forces and low-ball offers may hinder dealing them now, but as the trade deadline approaches, true value is more likely for the Buds. And that’s good, because both players are underperforming.

                                        Being in full evaluation/negotiation mode in fantasy leagues, posturing for position and propping up a sagging roster, it got me to thinking about reality-based trade evaluation, and how appraisals are distorted by current production .. or lack thereof.


                                          Slow starts off the hop have been endemic for the Leafs this season, but tonight went above and beyond a poor start as the listlessness didn’t seem to wear off until the second intermission. A woeful first two periods killed the Leafs, but they can take some solace in a much-improved third period of play that made the score-line respectable. Additionally, Bryan McCabe played a role in both the Leafs’ goals and Jason Blake recorded the team’s first shortie in over a year. So it wasn’t all bad.