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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.
In part one of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at whether the Maple Leafs new captain can return to form.
January 31st will forever be a day that will have historical significance for the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, and all its fans. Â How large of a significance it will have in the grand scheme of things has yet to be determined, but in many ways, it could be argued that it was the day the franchise turned the corner.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, ridiculed in some circles, heralded in others, after the way the Tomas Kaberle deal went down, has not been hiding in the shadows after his inability, or unwillingness, to trade the Czech born blue liner. Â Burke spoke to the media yesterday and made a variety of statements that should peak the interest of Leafs Nation.
As you all know, or may not know, Tomas Kaberle will remain a Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether he is still a Maple Leaf beyond this season is another question all together, and likely a long and awfully boring road. Regardless, here is Brian Burke’s statement:
The hockey club confirms this evening that Tomas Kaberle remains a Leaf. While a number of Clubs made offers to trade for Tomas, none of them reflected Tomas’s value to our team. I understand a period like this is stressful to the player, and we are pleased that there is a resolution, and we can all continue to prepare for the coming season.
Brian Burke stated this morning, “if these offers are all we get, he is staying put,” in regards to the Tomas Kaberle trade watch. It has put many fans on their heels as they await a trade, but it should be known that this statement could be nothing more than a trade tactic.
The Toronto Sun reports whispers around the league of the San Jose Sharks offering defensive prospect Derek Joslin along with a first round pick in exchange for Tomas Kaberle. This would be consistent with Burke’s Friday morning comments to the FAN 590 that offers for his premium puck moving defenseman have been primarily “futures oriented”, generally involving a quality young player and a high draft pick. Joslin is a 23 year old puck moving defenseman who has spent parts of the past three seasons posting increasingly impressive point totals in the American Hockey League and was named an AHL All-Star last season. He possesses an absolute bomb of a point shot, taking home the award for the hardest shot in the AHL Skills Competition.
Just under 26 hours left in the Kaberle countdown…
The Tomas Kaberle trade watch is now in effect with only 36 hours to go until this situation concludes. The rumor mill is running rampant with some high profile names and some future fan favorites, but let's dive into who is being mentioned as possible blue and white sweater bearers.
In case you missed it, here are some of the key points from Burke’s interview on the Fan590 this morning:
- There have been some legitimate offers made on Tomas Kaberle, though he expects that the quality will continue to increase as the deadline approaches
- The team continues to look for a top six winger with some size and scoring ability
- Offers have been primarily “future-oriented”, which would include a quality young player and a high draft pick. He would prefer to receive a package that would help the club more right now, but these offers are serious enough that he may re-evaluate his position and consider accepting one
- The team is not looking to acquire a big centre. Although they are small down the middle, the priority remains a big, scoring winger.
- Nazem Kadri has done everything the club has asked him to do and looked “fantastic” at the prospect camp last month. He is stronger in the upper body and is more explosive.
- They are pleased to have signed Jerry D’Amigo to a pro contract, but were not a factor in his decision to leave RPI. He made that decision on his own and will now battle it out for a spot on the opening night roster. Burke characterizes D’Amigo’s progress over the past season as “meteoric”.
- He believes that the arbitrator made the right decision in siding with the NHL on the Kovalchuk saga. The Maple Leafs have not and will not take part in these mega long-term contracts that tail off drastically at the end.
The newest addition to a strong Leafs blueline
The newest addition to a strong Leafs blueline
Brett Lebda has barely registered on the radar for Leafs fans and with good reason. This offseason is yet again centered solely on Tomas Kaberle, while Lebda toils away on the bottom pairing in many fansâ€™ minds. Expectations are understandably low for Lebda, so it now becomes important to gauge proper expectations. All stats not specifically referenced are found on BehindtheNet.ca.
Lebda primarily played with two people in 2009-10. Those players are Jonathan Ericsson and Brad Stuart (courtesy of DobberHockey.com). Lebda registered the fewest points in the trio at 8, with Ericsson amassing 13 and Stuart putting up 20. Lebdaâ€™s -2 rating is by no means a good stat to have, but it is significantly better than Stuartâ€™s -12 and Ericssonâ€™s -15. So in looking at these basic stats, we find that Lebda is average defensively and sub-par offensively. However, do advanced statistics shed any more light on his overall play? Letâ€™s find out.
McKeen's Hockey Annual Yearbook
It’s been quite the time span since my last post here. But as many of you know, I’ve been working on the McKeen’s Hockey Annual Yearbook. That is in addition to the work on the player profiles for the Maple Leafs Annual.
So to kick things off, and to change the subject from Tomas Kaberle, here are my player predictions for the Maple Leafs this season after the jump.
(NOTE*** Predictions appearing the McKeen’s Annual Yearbook are decided as a collective from many different sources. These values will unlikely appear as they indicated below in the publication.)
*Warning:Â More analysis and opinionÂ concerning the Kovalchuk decision. For those who want to talk hockey, as opposed to the now perpetual indiscretions of the league office etc. Alex has a post beneath.
When Richard Bloch decided to rule in the favour of the NHL in the case of Ilya Kovalchuk and the ridiculous contract, he set in place a new precedent that the league hope will stem the flow of cap-circumventing front loaded contracts. In lieu of a concrete definition, the cover-all bases nature of Blochâ€™s ruling was expected to draw a line under the types of long, frontloaded contracts the NHL saw as detrimental to the spirit of equality the CBA and its salary cap was supposed to theoretically harbour.
It’s been rumored for a few days now, but on Wednesday afternoon, prospect Jerry D’Amigo has finally put pen to paper to sign a 3 year entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs. This signing certainly comes as a surprise as D’Amigo was originally expected to complete a full four year commitment with RPI before turning pro. After a fantastic ’09-’10 season that saw him produce a near point-a-game campaign en route to ECAC Rookie of the Year honours, he rocketed up the team’s depth charts and could find himself in a position to earn a roster spot as early as this fall. Like Tyler Bozak last season, D’Amigo will have two overriding motivations in joining the Maple Leafs.
One, the money is pretty good: The Toronto Star’s Damien Cox explains that Jerry will earn a “max contract”. Update: D’Amigo’s maximum cap hit if he hits all his bonuses would be $1.125 million. Two, there is opportunity: the team’s forward outlook is still in flux and D’Amigo will be given every opportunity to compete for a full-time job at camp. Cox explains that the organization was willing to give D’Amigo a maximum contract because they feel that if the 2009 draft were redone, Jerry would find himself going in the bottom third of the first round. It’ll be interesting to see how the club will attempt to fit D’Amigo into their financial picture if he is indeed deemed NHL ready to start the season.
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?
Now that the NHL has won the arbitration award based on “salary cap circumvention” with the Kovalchuk situation, they are ready to tackle the rest of the league. A year (and perhaps in a few occasions more than a year) ago, specific contracts were approved by the league and now the league has decided to reevaluate those contracts to determine if they too circumvent the salary cap.
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.
The NHLPA filed a grievance against the NHL for rejecting Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils' mammoth 17 year contract. After an arbitration hearing for both sides, today the ruling was in favor of the NHL, thus making Ilya Kovalchuk a free agent.
Excerpt from Michael Stephens Added
According to numerous sources, including the Canadian Press, the Toronto Maple Leafs and prospect Jerry D’Amigo are expected to finalize a three year entry level deal sometime this week. Â The move would see D’Amigo forfeit his NCAA eligibility and likely join the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League, who own his CHL rights.
D’Amigo, drafted in the sixth round of last year’s entry draft, has quickly rocketed to the top of the prospect depth chart over the past year. Â He played an integral role in the USA’s World Junior upset over Canada this past January in Saskatchewan.
Â As the systemic dismantling of this summerâ€™s Stanley Cup champions continues in earnest, league watchers are crying foul. Where detractors of the current, hard revenue based cap once denounced the communistic, unilateral sharing of league revenue as the prime illustration of illogic in the CBA (alongside the long-long term contract loopholes), Mondayâ€™s exit of Antti Niemi from the Chicago Blackhawks has helped turn the club into the latest martyrâ€™s of the cap.
$12.99, 128 pages, no ads, all Leafs.
The Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual is back for it’s second edition, jam packed with even more Leafs coverage, analysis and inside access than the year before. Preorders will ship on August 17 and include a $5.00 shipping charge. Yes, Kaberle remained a Leaf by the final deadline, because apparently it was just SO out of the way for Burke to deal him at our convenience. It matters not, just read some of these highlights:
Detailed player by player scouting information, advanced statistics and innovative statistical graphics for the 2010-11 roster
An interview with GM Brian Burke on change and the outlook for 2010-11
A look at the controversial legacy of 1960s Leafs head coach Punch Imlach, with reflections from Leaf greats Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Larry Hillman & more
A position by position look at the 2010-11 Leafs roster
The inside scoop on the Leafs’ 2010 off-season additions, organizational philosophy and evaluation with Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin
A review of the 2010 draft with the perspective of Leafs head scout Dave Morrison
Statistical analysis of the importance of first round picks: can the Leafs go their own way?
Analysis of the Leafs’ cap situation with looks at the constitution of past Cup winners
A Nazem Kadri feature (including thoughts from Morrison and director of player development Jim Hughes) & list of the Leafs’ Top Prospects in Fall 2010 & Darkhorses
An interview with potential sixth round steal Jerry D’Amigo
- An in-depth look at the Marlies’ season that was and will be with thoughts from head coach Dallas Eakins, Poulin, Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent
- Projections for the Leafs offense and defense
- An in-depth, goalie-by-goalie scouting evaluation of Leaf netminders (Gustavsson, Giguere, Scrivens, Reimer, Rynnas) with The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman
- Takes on how new media is changing coverage of the team with thoughts from MLSE social media strategist Jonathan Sinden
Ensure yourself a copy of the Maple Leafs Annual here. Take the jump for a full list of authors – the best of the best from across the Barilkosphere and beyond.
According to CBC Sports, the San Jose Sharks are on the verge of signing free agent grinder Jamal Mayers. The Sharks announced on their website their plans for the veteran forward. “Jamal is a fast, physical, team-first player who brings the ingredients we were looking for to this role,â€ said Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. “He is an extremely fit athlete who can kill penalties and we think he will mesh well with our group of forwards.”
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