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Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Garnet Exelby, profiled by Alex Tran.
The Summary: Exelby came to Toronto from Atlanta as part of the Pavel Kubina trade last summer, when Brian Burke needed to clear cap space for the free agency season. Essentially viewed as a salary dump with one year left on his contract, Exelby was given a shot to show Leafs’ management that he could contribute to the team as a useful third pairing defender. But when you’re ranked 6th on the defensive depth chart for the 2nd worst defensive team in the NHL, you can imagine expectations were already pretty low.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Jeff Finger, profiled by Alec Brownscombe.
A former 1999 eighth round pick, Jeff Finger came to the Leafs via unrestricted free agency as a 29-year-old who was skating in the ECHL the last time Toronto made the playoffs. After his first steady NHL season with Colorado in ’07-08, Cliff Fletcher rolled the dice on a $3 million-per-year raise for the journeyman that will cost the Leafs 3.5 million against the cap annually until 2012. Fletcher obviously thought there was a lot more to come from Finger in his late development as a two-way defenceman, but let’s just say on that fateful day in July, 2008, the optics weren’t good.
In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty. Â The entry draft in June of 2005 was really the beginning of a new era in hockey, and a new era for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Sidney Crosby first overall, a move that would change their fortunes forever.
Drafted second that year was Bobby Ryan. Â A big bodied power forward with tremendous skill, I had the chance to watch Ryan in person blaze up and down the ice for the Owen Sound Attack. Â One look at Ryan moving swiftly between checkers, puck on a string as he bobbed and weaved his way into a prime scoring area, and it was clear.
This dude was one heck of a consolation prize.
And the GM who was afforded that consolation prize, as you are all aware, was one Brian Burke.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Luca Caputi, profiled by Garrett Bauman.
One of the Penguins’ highest-ranked prospects, 21-year old Toronto native Luca Caputi was acquired by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the Trade Deadline in exchange for long-serving winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Caputi’s acquisition was another in a long line of moves by GM Brian Burke designed to (a) clean house, and (b) add young players with upside who can contribute immediately.
To Caputi’s credit, the early returns have been positive the 6’3, 200lb winger can develop into a regular contributor, although with only 28 NHL games under his belt (19 with the Maple Leafs), it is difficult to gauge on what his ultimate role, or impact, will be. The 2010-11 season should provide a crucial indication of his NHL future.
The Chicago Blackhawks are just 60 minutes away from drinking out of Lord Stanley, and it will be present at tonight’s game at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. Should the Blackhawks win, it will be their first championship in 49 years.
“It has been flashing in my head since Game 1 of the playoffs,” said Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. “Every time you win one game, it feels like you’re going all the way to the Cup. I’ve always said when you lose a game it feels like your season is going to be over. It just has been such a crazy ride.”
According to TSN, it’s looking like the 2010 free agent class could get a boost this summer when Hurricanes’ winger Ray Whitney hits the market on July 1st. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford is less than optimistic about his chances at re-signing the talented playmaker:
“I think it will be difficult with where he will be at, contract-wise. I expect him to go into July. It appears that’s the way it’s going to go.”
Could Whitney provide an interesting fit for the Maple Leafs?
The NHL Draft is less than 18 days away…can you feel the excitement? The Leafs won’t be landing Taylor Hall, but it doesn’t mean they can’t grab another talented young forward from the Windsor Spitfires, today’s feature player: Justin Shugg. Justin’s a local kid from Niagara Falls who has been a key cog in for the most powerful offense in Canadian Major Junior, enjoying a 39 goal, 79 point breakout season in the Ontario Hockey League. Word around the scouting circles is that the Leafs are deeply interested in his services, as are the Atlanta Thrashers.
Red Wings forward Jason Williams surprises my aunt at our charity golf tournament
It was something that was unbelievable, but at the same time, somewhat not surprising, given the type of people they are.
As many of you may-or may not-know, I am a committee member for a charity golf tournament held each summer in Strathroy, Ontario in support of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Â Last year we raised $5,000 in our first year of the tournament, and yesterday, June 5th, was the second annual event.
Eight months of hard planning, a delicate high wire act of balancing teams, sponsors, donations, and other variables that you undoubtedly run into along the way, and it was all coming together on this day.
And everything was aligning itself to be a special day.
The tournament is played in memory of my uncle, Shawn Wade, who passed away a few years ago as a result of complications of a stroke. Â Among the many ways you could describe him, all of them positive, he was also a huge hockey fan. Â Having played competitively when he was younger, my uncle attached himself to the Detroit Red Wings, amazed by Gordie Howe and his skill and dogged determination.
He followed the Red Wings throughout his whole life, and when he met and eventually married my aunt, Mary, the two took great pride and enjoyment in frequenting “The Joe” and cheering on the famed Winged Wheel. Â And cheer they did.
They attended games live, and lived and breathed Wings hockey throughout their time together. Â A past time of faith which was rewarded to the tune of a few Stanley Cups along the way.
With the tournament about two weeks away, we had an idea, which in hindsight looked completely out to lunch.
Whitby born, Ryan Hamilton has signed a 1-year, 2-way deal worth $500k (at NHL level) with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hamilton, who came to the Leafs organizationÂ in aÂ tradeÂ with the NHL Wild (AHL Aeros) duringÂ the 08/09 season,Â was scheduled to test the free agent market if unable to resign with Toronto.
Though he finished the season leading the team in goals and among the top-five in assists, Hamilton’s contribution to the Toronto AHL club is far deeper than what can be recorded onÂ score card.
Though the news in Leaf Nation has been relatively quiet of late, there have been a few intriguing storylines making the rounds. Joel Champagne will re-enter the draft, Nik Kulemin and the Maple Leafs have hit a contract impasse, Tomas Kaberle is reportedly gathering interest from a number of teams, and a member of the Toronto media raised a few eyebrows with a blog post regarding the relationship between Dion Phaneuf and Ron Wilson.
Yesterday was a big day in Leafs Nation. Â And I think I speak for all fans when I say it’s about time. Â While two teams are currently battling for the opportunity to lift Lord Stanley’s Cup, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been forced to sit on the sidelines and watch, bide their time with the other half of the league who wasn’t fortunate enough to make into the NHL’s playoffs.
And while they have kept themselves busy, and Brian Burke has shown a penchant for rarely letting his team slip into the background, a lot of hype has been leading toward this time of year.
Even without a first-or second-round draft pick, the Toronto Maple Leafs are still making plenty of waves, and it appears Burke is fit to make an impression at the draft, whether he is selecting or not.
Which, although he would never admit it, would be the perfect way to steal the spotlight back from the doom and gloom position of Boston using the Leafs pick to select a potential franchise cornerstone.
Tomas Kaberle, long been rumoured to be on his way out of Toronto, may be inching closer and closer with each passing day. Â As the calendar flipped to June yesterday, and now with the entry draft and free agency now firmly in sight on the horizon, it appears Kaberle’s time with the Toronto Maple Leafs is now being measured in days.
In case you missed it, here’s a brief summary courtesy of Naz:
- Burke has let it be known to the 29 other NHL teams that Tomas Kaberle is available; he’s received “two interesting package offers” so far for Kaberle and is expecting more in the days leading up to the draft
- Burke’s priority this offseason will be to acquire top six forward with some size; Acquiring a higher draft pick would be a luxury but is not a priority
- Wayne Primeau will not receive a contract offer prior to July 1st and his situation will be re-evaluated afterwards
- Nazem Kadri has a shot at making the Leafs next season but needs to continue to get “stronger” and play a “60 minute game”
- If Kaberle is moved, Burke explains that one of the Marlies “Big Four” of Juraj Mikus, Simon Gysbys, Korbinian Holzer or Keith Aulie could find themselves with a full-time job in the NHL
Took a couple days off, but now let’s get back to the draft profiles. Today’s 2010 draft primer will focus on Andrew Yogan, an American-born power forward who plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL. Yogan might’ve garnered first or second round consideration at the beginning of the season but has been all over draft boards of late because of his inconsistent play.Â However, the invaluable package of size, character and high end skill he brings to the table is undeniable.
The year was 2005. Â George W. Bush was still in office (yes, somehow Americans voted for him, twice), Hurricane Katrina was doing catastrophic damage to New Orleans, and the vatican was naming a new pope after the passing of John Paul II.
In the sports world, the New England Patrios would win yet another Super Bowl, this time against the Eagles, the Washington Nationals would begin operation as Major League Baseball’s newest team, Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Indy 500, and the Chicago White Sox ended a lengthy championship drought, winning the world series in four straight over the Houston Astros.
Oh, and there was this one other thing too. Â NO HOCKEY.
Embattled in a bitter labour dispute, the NHL shut down operations for an entire year in search of cost certainty, something they would eventually get, although the opinion on whether the design is flawed or not is still out to be deliberated.
For fans of the NHL, the June 2005 entry draft was more than just a weekend in June in which young players would be drafted, making their way into the beginning of their National Hockey League careers. Â It was a new beginning for the world of the NHL. Â A new season was about to kick off in earnest.
In a move that should surprise nobody, a Swedish hockey site has indicated that Rickard Wallin will not be with Toronto next year. Â Wallin, who would have been a UFA for the Leafs, signed a four-year deal with his longtime European team Farjestads. Â This ends a very brief return to the NHL for the Swedish centerman which saw one mediocre-at-best season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It’s time for another draft profile, and Brock Beukeboom has the honour of being the first defenseman featured in our MLHS draft preview series. Ironically enough, Beukeboom is a physical blueliner with a “booming” point shot from Uxbridge, Ontario. Brock plays for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL and is the son of former Edmonton Oiler and 3-time Stanley Cup winning defenseman Jeff Beukeboom. Great bloodlines, offensive potential and the complete physical package should certainly pique the interest of Leafs’ scouts come draft day.
There is no saying that Brian Burke wonâ€™t find some way to improve the Leafs lot come draft day, but as things stand this very moment the Leafs will not be making a selection until the third round. Where the Leafs went off the board early last year taking the nameplate-less Jamie Devane in the third, in a draft marked by big-bodied rough-and-tumble types, chances are this season, Burke and his staff will be looking for a player with a more immediate skill set. Not only would this partially appease a disheartened fan base, the Leafs will enter the draft wary of saturating the cupboard with leviathan sized bodyguards.
There has been much speculation that GM Brian Burke is working to acquire a 1st round pick in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft and now it’s time to add some more fuel to the fire. According to the Vancouver Sun, projected mid 1st round draft prospect Mark Pysyk of the Edmonton Oil Kings has held discussions with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks, and Florida Panthers prior to the NHL’s scouting combine next month.
Pysyk currently plays the role of a minute-munching machine for the Oil Kings: killing penalties, shutting down opposing teams’ top lines, and even earns time on the team’s powerplay. Mark is currently projected 16th overall by ISS and 7th among North American Skaters by Central Scouting, which means he could expect his name to be called anywhere between picks 10-20 on draft day. The mere fact that the Leafs scouting team is putting this much effort into evaluating players that would seemingly be out of the team’s picking range seems to indicate that there is at least a reasonable chance that Burke will be able to lay his hands on a fairly high draft pick come next June.
JESSE BLACKER (#21) – D
Date of Birth: April 19, 1991
Hometown: Toronto, ON
Height: 6'2" | Weight: 190lbs | Shoots: Right
Drafted: Toronto's 3rd Choice, 58th Overall, in 2009
Price Tag: AHL $67,500Â | NHL $640,000
Signed Through: 2013
- Won the Memorial Cup with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009
- Lead all Owen Sound defensemen during 09/10 in goals (6), assists (24) and points (30)
- Made his AHL debut on March 20th 2010 vs. Hamilton
- Registered one assist and a plus-two rating in first AHL appearance
In continuing with our preparation for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, which takes place June 25th – 26th at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, today’s draft primer will profile right winger Brett Bulmer from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Bulmer is quickly climbing up draftboards across the NHL after coming out of nowhere to have a very productive season out west. The intriguing combination of skating ability, size and offensive upside could see him go pretty high on draft day.
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