According to Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star, it appears as if the Maple Leafs could be exploring all options in order to bring in another centreman from outside the organization. While Hunter explains that Bozak and Grabovski have essentially nailed down the top two centre positions to begin the season, both Kadri and Mitchell have struggled enough for Burke to begin considering alternative means of reinforcement down the middle. During the media conference call on Sunday afternoon, Burke had this to say about his current forward group:
â€œNo one has ever said weâ€™re going with this group. Weâ€™re still in a great position for waiver claims. We still have our scouts out scouring. We havenâ€™t ruled out doing something. . . . We may need to go out and grab a centre.
“Heâ€™s not played anywhere near to what we had hoped for and expected. I donâ€™t know why that is and heâ€™s running out of time.”
Hunter speculates that Christian Hanson will likely be slotted in between Colton Orr and Mike Brown on the team’s fourth line, which by process of elimination, suggests that the Leafs could be looking to acquire a veteran third line centre. Presumably, this would be a player who would mesh into Burke’s “top six – bottom six” philosophy as a defensively minded player who will win faceoffs, battle in the corners and contribute on the team’s penalty kill unit.
One such player could be former Canuck/Duck Brendan Morrison, whom Burke and Nonis are both quite familiar with. Morrison is currently with the Canucks’ camp on a tryout basis, but has been playing well. The 35 year old B.C. native posted 42 points and a +23 rating in 74 games played for the Capitals last season. If he doesn’t manage to snag a full-time job on a very deep Canuck team (Sedin, Kesler, Malholtra down the middle), then look for the Leafs to perhaps inquire about his services.
In a move that will inevitably add to the frustratingly indecipherable trade rumblings of the last few days, Eric Belanger indicated that he has essentially signed with a team, but is unable to divulge where he will be going. Â The article is French, but the English translation of the title (“Eric Belanger signs…but he won’t say where!”) says it all. Â The information we can gleam from this is that Belanger can not reveal his new team because they are “working on an exchange that will affect the salary cap”. Â Of course, this begs the question: are the Leafs somehow involved?
John Mitchell joins Nik Kulemin as the second Leaf to re-sign with the club today. Â After initially not being qualified by Toronto, Mitchell hit unrestricted free agency with an understanding that Brian Burke intended to offer him a new contract. Â The purpose of waiting was financially-driven as it allowed Toronto to save at the very least 250,000 on Mitchell because he was not qualified.
Mustache Power carried him to an easy victory.
This is why I don’t like doing prospect profiles.Â Call it the “Curse of GB”.
2008-09′s semi-popular “Getting To Know You” series featured six players who were (at the time) prospects Leafs’ fans were excited about.
One by one, five of these prospects were gradually moved out of the system voted off the team, culminating in yesterday’s decision to not qualify Phil Oreskovic.
The result?Â Dale Mitchell is your MLHS “Getting To Know You” Survivor!
[pause for loud cheering, applause, and a spontaneous "Go Leafs Go" chant]
In the second installment of the Prospect Season In Review, we will take a look at a couple of Maple Leafs prospects who have proven a positive product of the John Ferguson Jr / Cliff Fletcher draft era.
Profiles in this segment include German DEL winger Jerome Flaake and defender Korbinian Holzer, as well as a prospect closer to home: Windsor Spitfires winger Dale Mitchell.
Although the positives have been few and far between for the struggling Leafs so far this season, the continued progression of blueliner Ian White bodes well for the team both in the short and long term. With the likes of stay at home defenders such as Beachemin, Schenn, and Komisarek locked into the club’s core for the foreseeable future, the complementary puckmoving and point producing skills of White make him that much more valuable to Burke’s plan of building from the net out.
Watching the Leafs play this season has already clearly demonstrated 3 distinct and separate teams.Â Â Team1 started the season on a dreadful 0-6-1 streak.Â Team2 surfaced on the teams first extended raod trip, and although losing the opener by the closest of margins in Vancouver, they managed to rally off a string of impressive games, still falling short and losing in extra time or in a shootout.Â Team3, continued to pick up a point in games and more recently have managed to win their last 2 in a row.Â But, IÂ was leftÂ asking the question, why the turn around?Â If one was to read the various media reports, 1 man alone was responsible for the Leafs woes early on (Toskala) and now one man alone is the saviour and is responsible for the Leafs turn around (Gustavsson).
The pre-season Buds may have exuded that truculent belligerence so deeply worn into the modern Toronto fans lexicon, but they rarely looked convincing. Either letting leads slip or being forced to fight back from poor starts, the Leafs managed to scrap their way to a strong 6-3 record. But as the 2008 Detroit Lions will attest to, a good pre-season rarely translates into a successful regular season.
Subsequently, while it is easy to buy into the hype of September hockey after the barren months of Summer, the Leafs will do well to learn from the more lackadaisical moments of their 6-3 warm up before they start lacing up against the cream of the leagues â€œAâ€ squads. After all, rallying performances aside, the pre-season has done little but affirm that the Leafs own one of the strongest depth charts in the league, not necessarily the strongest team.
Pretty darn close. Dale Mitchell is turning heads in the OHL, and itâ€™s not just because of his speed, itâ€™s because of his stats, albeit he is playing with Taylor Hall. Dale was drafted in the third round, 74th overall, of the 2007 NHL entry draft â€“ the same year Chris DiDomenico was drafted, so all in all it was a pretty decent draft year despite trading the 1st and 2nd round picks to SJS for Toskala. At the time, Mitchell posted an 80 point season (43G 37A) but was considered to be too small, even by todayâ€™s NHL standards (5â€™9â€ 180lbs).
Mark Bell’s career in Toronto seems to be all but over. The 28-year old from Ontario joined the Leafs along with Vesa Toskala at last year’s draft shrouded under the cloud of an impending DUI sentence. With that cleared up this past summer, many Leaf fans hoped for a revival of the Mark Bell that scored 25 goals in Chicago during the 2005-2006 season. However, it was quite evident that Bell never managed to put it together in training camp or in the exhibition games that the Leafs played.