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In part two of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Leafs goaltending of the past, and whether this year’s tandem can provide them with healthy, consistent efforts.
The NHL goaltender.
It has been said that there is no more important position in all of pro sports. Â And if you believe that, it’s quite easy to see why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had much regular season success in the post lockout NHL, and why the post season has eluded them.
An article in the London Free Press explains that the reasons for the earlier 7pm ET start times for home games this season: to cater to a younger audience and to allow for more efficient getaways in the case of a road game the following night. A slew of other small headlines including contract details for Komisarek, the Grabovski-Kostitsyn feud, and Justin Pogge.
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.
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.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
13 goals, 3 tenders, countless defensive errors and ugly goals.Â You almost felt sorry for Curtis Joseph after Jeff Carter cruised in for an easy breakaway goal and the camera panned to a thoroughly annoyed Ron Wilson.Â The Leafs would attempt a comeback of sorts after going down by six goals, but even with the best efforts of Martin Biron, it all went for naught.
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.Â Signs of life from the Maple Leafs were quickly overwhelmed by the desperation and talent (surprise! again!) of this Panthers squad.Â Sadly, this tussle lacked the fan factor that made Tuesday night’s game in Tampa a joy to watch.
Martin Gerber stole this game for the Toronto Maple Leafs.Â A few months ago, that sentence would have made absolutely no sense for so many reasons.Â In his first game as a Leaf, Gerber played in a fashion that will make more than a few Senator fans shake their heads in frustration.Â Other than a late goal that broke his shutout, Toronto’s new Swiss goaltender stopped a Washington squad that has admittedly struggled of late.
â€œThe Day after Yesterdayâ€ (the prequel to â€œDay after Tomorrowâ€). These two things have a lot in common. Millions of people watched it all unfold, hoping the guy in the lead role could do the impossible and save the day (it didnâ€™t happen, the world still froze over and the Leafs still donâ€™t have a second 1st round pick). There was a serious injury that needed medical aid (Toskalaâ€™s hip/groin, and Laura Chapmanâ€™s blood poisoning). And everyone was running around frantically once they found out about the strange phenomenon (Guy 1: â€œHey look, a giant tsunami!â€ Guy 2: â€œWho cares, Andy Wozniewski was traded!â€ Guy 1: â€œYou’re right! That’s far more bizarre.â€)
Burke picks up defenseman Eric Reitz, who, in addition to being a formidable glove dropper, has been offensively productive at the AHL level (34 points in 48 games with the Aeros last season). At the NHL level, Reitz has been more of a seventh man who can add some toughness to the blue-line in the event of injury.
As the Leafs consider shutting down Vesa Toskala for the balance of the season, Martin Gerber should add some insurance until the end of the season, at which point Gerber’s contract expires. There was a time when Gerber was a premium puck-stopper. It’s easy to forget after Ward’s playoff heroics that Gerber was the one who got the Canes into the playoff position in the first place. That said, his career’s gone down the shitter since. Nonetheless, it’s a very low-risk move and speaks to Burke’s unwillingness to quit on the season under any circumstances for the fans’ sake.
1) Brian Burke’s received two offers of a second round pick for Dominic Moore. Burke’s trying to up the ante in order to also land a 4th rounder in 2009 as the Leafs are without one.
2) Looked into it… the Martin Gerber rumour has some legs as the Leafs consider shutting Toskala down for the balance of the season. It’s no secret that there is zero trust in Curtis Joseph at this time and Justin Pogge’s currently struggling to hold down the starter’s position in the AHL. For the season ticket holders’ sake, Burke does not want to be perceived as though he’s throwing in the towel on the season if he elects to shut down VeTo. A move such as this would undoubtedly upset the pro-tankers among us, but to stay as competitive as possible through to the end is a Burke trade mark. Gerber’s contract expires at the end of the season, so if Burke opted to pluck him off re-entry waivers it would be a case of no harm, no foul, at least from Burke’s perspective.
3) A source I spoke with said he would be surprised if Burke settled for anything less than a first rounder in return for Nik Antropov.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have expressed interest in putting in a waiver claim on veteran goaltender Martin Gerber. It’s speculated that this surprising interest may be a result of two possible scenarios:
#1 – The Leafs have lined up an appropriate trading partner for Toskala and need a veteran goalie to stick in the net for the rest of the season.
#2 – As rumored for the past few weeks, Toskala may indeed be hurting and the Leafs may choose to shut him down for the rest of the season as he undergoes surgery.
Here are some quick hits on news around the league with just around 24 hours to go until the deadline:
Through 45 games the abject tandem of Toskala and Joseph has combined for the worst team save percentage in the NHL and by an ever increasing margin. Where .900 is seen as a barometer for average net minding in the modern game, the Blueshirted duo has managed just .886 between them. Subsequently the hard work put into making the Leafs sixth in shots against with a 28.3 per game average is being undone by a last line of defence that bares a startling resemblance to the Maginot line. Worse still the current status quo threatens to undermine the very rebuilding process Toronto are pinning their future on.
I don’t care where in the tanking/playoff spectrum you stand, beating the Ottawa Senators is always sweet. Especially in a game riddled with physicality and controversy, against a rival considered at season’s dawn a contender vastly more talented than the re-building Maple Leafs.