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Matt Stajan

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One of the key questions surrounding the upcoming 2010-11 Maple Leafs season is whether they will be able to score enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

An optimist will point to the Leafs’ record following the acquisitions of Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere as evidence that the Maple Leafs can compete. The cynic will suggest that although the Leafs played well over the final third of the season following those moves, there just simply isn’t enough proven offensive production to buoy hopes for post-season play.

A closer look at the Leafs performance over their past 26 games following the January 31st trades for Phaneuf and Giguere, in comparison to their first 56, might shed some light on whether or not the Leafs’ need for more offense in order to compete is fact or fiction.

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    In my continuing statistical analysis of new and old Maple Leafs, I’ve decided to take a look at Matt Stajan in 2009-10. His play during his Leaf tenure was often a hot button discussion that somewhat divided the fan base. After all, he’s only 26 years old and he has scored over 50 points back to back now. Maybe Burke’s statisticians brought some of his more unknown negative characteristics to light, making the decision to move him a little easier. Thanks again to BehindtheNet.ca for having all of the forthcoming information readily available for the public.

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    The Leafs will start and end with Montreal as to be expected. The schedule includes nine back-to-backs, an increase over the seven they played last season. The Leafs will head northwest March 22-24 to play Minnesota and Colorado after hosting them last season. The most taxing travel appears to be a four game stretch from January 7 – 13 when the Buds will make stops in Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix. The Leafs will also conduct a potentially critical division tour from February 12 – 19 when they face off consecutively with each Northeast rival. From December 14-18, the Blue and White will go on a Western Canada road trip where they can visit Taylor Hall, Matt Stajan and Kyle Wellwood. The full sched after the jump:

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    (Author’s note: the intent of this analysis is not to ignore the great work of Nik Kulemin, I just couldn’t really find any particularly compelling or solvent data to include in this article. Also, I just graduated university, so for the 0 fans of my work who were wondering where I was…uhhh… drinking, mostly)

    The 2009 – 2010 season for the Toronto Maple Leafs was one of transition, the decrepit monolith created by John Ferguson Junior being thoroughly and carefully dismantled by Brian Burke in an attempt to bring back league-wide respect and playoff aspirations to the storied franchise we know and (as of late) begrudgingly love.

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      This week’s prospect was referred to as an integral part of the deal that brought in Dion Phaneuf and Fredrik Sjostrom, while jettisoning Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers to the Calgary Flames.

      The former gold medal winning defensman with the 2009 World Junior Championships squad injured his shoulder shortly after the deal.

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      When Brian Burke became the new general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs in November of 2008, Leafs Nation embarked on a new journey.  A new beginning.  With Burke at the helm, the Leafs organization finally had a general manager who had credentials.  Who had a winning pedigree.  Who had the exact type of attitude the Toronto market needed.

      A man who wouldn’t take any nonsense from anyone, and a man who wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger on a big move that may set the team up for the better in the long term, a characteristic it seemed so many Leafs GM’s lacked in between the time of Fletcher’s first run, and Burke being christened as the new head of the front office.

      Finally, Leafs fans were able to legitimately talk about the “Big O”, and they weren’t faking it either.

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      Prior to the lockout, undrafted college free agents were a rare, straight to NHL commodity. Either serving out their apprenticeships as minor league signees or plying their trade overseas, few players transitioned directly from the ranks of college hockey to the NHL without enduring prolonged development curves. However, in a post-lockout landscape where GM’s clutch their most valued assets and superstars to their clubs with dynasty length deals, and where dollars and ice time are apportioned in equilibrium, graduate aged (or younger) players progressing from the NCAA as free agents are providing comparatively cheap labour in an increasingly scrutinized marketplace.

      Not too surprisingly, considering both his hockey heritage as a former captain of the Providence College Friars and his somewhat condensed timetable for rebuilding the Leafs, Brian Burke has been one of the first to plunder the verdant college market in recent seasons, in turn providing a quantum shift from the conventional dominance of the CHL at the junior level.

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        Submitted by Michael Stephens (a.k.a. Baumgartner)

        The Toronto Maple Leafs have the League’s worst penalty kill, sporting a 73.0% success rate. They have been shorthanded 252 times this season, surrendering 68 goals. Through 71 games this season, they average 3.5 penalties (252ts/71gp) each night.

        Around January 15th, this vaunted penalty kill was even worse, an abysmal 68.9%. Ron Wilson was smugly talking about how he had to teach his boys how to flip the puck down the ice and out of the zone.

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          Ever since the Leafs’ late-offseason acquisition of Phil Kessel, his performance has been (understandably) heavily-scrutinized in the face of the hefty amount of futures given up to secure the extremely talented winger.

          Kessel’s season has, in some ways, mirrored that of his teammates, with periods of great productivity followed by periods of near-invisibility. However, considering a host of issues which seemingly stood in the way of a productive season, including significant shoulder surgery, causing him to miss out on training camp, and the lack of talent surrounding him, the Leafs’ young sniper has produced at a rate which, in the context of the aforementioned factors, is actually quite impressive.

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            We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications.  Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer.  Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.

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              For the second time in four days the Maple Leafs will face off against the New Jersey Devils, this time at the ACC. In what seems to be the most nonsensical decision made in recent memory by NHL schedulers, come this Friday the Leafs and Devils will have faced off three times in one calendar week. What’s up with that?

              As you are all undoubtedly aware, the Leafs have a few new faces in the fold, and we are all eager to see what Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere bring to the table as members of the blue and white.

              Note: I won’t get into trade analysis here; that has already been covered in excellent fashion by the MLHS crew in prior posts.

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                To Toronto: Keith Aulie, Dion Phaneuf, Frederick Sjostrom

                To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Ian White

                A second trade is expected to be announced shortly, involving J-S Giguere.

                Discuss.

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                  The Leafs took to the ice today in preparation for Martin Brodeur tomorrow night. It featured some interesting one on one drills for a few key players, and one defenceman who claims the future of his career and the Maple Leafs would be better suited if he were traded.

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                    On the heels of Saturday night’s rumour from the Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove panel that the dealing of pending free agents Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky is a virtual certainty, TSN’s Darren Dreger has listed the pair as the fourth and fifth most-likely trade candidates this trade deadline (Stajan followed by Ponikarovsky) as Brian Burke seeks to re-equip his club with picks lost or equivalent prospects.

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                      There’s already some discussion going on in the threads, but let’s get all of that latest news out on the table:

                      - TSN’s Darren Dreger recently tossed out his list of top 10 candidates to be moved at this year’s trade deadline, with Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky figuring in at the 4th and 5th spots respectively. He suggests that Stajan would perhaps yield “a decent prospect or drafts picks in return” and that Ponikarovsky would likely fetch a similar price. It’s always hard to gauge the trade deadline market as values fluctuate on a yearly basis, but I’ve got Ponikarovsky pegged as an Antropov comparable (2nd round pick) as a big body and 60 point player while Stajan may compare favorably to Moore (2nd round pick starting price) as a depth centreman who can put up some points in the right situation.

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                        Tonight at 7:00, the Toronto Maple Leafs will visit the Florida Panthers in a battle against former Maple Leaf, Bryan McCabe, and his Panthers. Also, Brian Burke addressed the media regarding his outlook towards the remainder of the season, as well as what has been highly regarded as a “double deadline” year with the Olympic break and the trade deadline.

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                          Per the Toronto Star, it appears as though Tyler Bozak may be the latest player to get a shot at centring the Maple Leafs’ top line alongside Phil Kessel and Nik Kulemin, beginning tonight against Carolina.   With Kessel having recorded only 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 12 games, the Leafs are desperately hoping this change may be the tonic required to get their star winger back on track.

                          Update: confirmed by am640′s Jonas Siegel.

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                            He glided down the ice, not showing any sort of intimidation despite the fact he was a little out of his element.  Like a veteran, he flew down the wing and fired a shot that eluded the goaltender.  It was his first NHL goal.  It was his first NHL game.

                            He skated through the neutral zone, accepting a stretch pass, only to be met by a member of the opposition, who’s eyes were as big as saucers, knowing he was going to catch him.  He was leveled, sent for a trip down dream street.  A hit that caused a nasty gash to open up over his eye, blood streamed out of his nose.  It was his 425th NHL game.

                            All 425, as a member of his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

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                              Good to be back! It’s been a little while since I’ve had the opportunity to post anything.

                              The following are some random thoughts I’ve had of late, including Luke Schenn’s banishment to the press box, the Leafs’ recent winning ways, the status of the trade front, and more.