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Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs will host the Atlanta Thrashers at the Air Canada Center. Atlanta is hoping to catch the Boston Bruins for the 8th seed in the East and snag a post-season berth, while the Maple Leafs are looking to continue a playoff of their own – the quest to get out of the bottom five.
NOTE: Newly signed Brayden Irwin will not make his debut tonight. He will likely see action Thursday or Saturday.
- The Toronto Sun has an interesting article up, talking about the future of several Maple Leaf players leading up to this year’s trade deadline. During an informal survey of hockey executives and general managers attending the CHL Top Prospects game, the consensus was that aside from Tomas Kaberle, Ponikarovsky would be the player who would garner the greatest return. It was speculated that he would perhaps net a late 2nd round pick, being comparable to but not as refined as Nik Antropov (who yielded the Rangers’ 50th overall selection last year).
- The article follows up by noting that players such as Stajan and Stempniak might get “a sniff”, but not to expect a significant return. However, it appears Burke has not been particularly aggressive in dangling any of his players at the present time.
- In another note, according to the Russian website infox.ru via the Toronto Sun, it appears as if winger Nikolai Kulemin will be named to the Russian Olympic roster for the Vancouver games. It’s nice to see that Kulemin’s solid all-around play this season is getting him some recognition from those outside the organization.
Tonight, the Atlanta Thrashers will visit the Toronto Maple Leafs at the ACC, and it will be the return of both Nik Antropov and Pavel Kubina. Exelby is in for Finger, so he'll get a chance to face his former team. For those with their fingers crossed, I also hope Exelby will fight Eric Boulton.
Wanted to take a minute and congratulate our very own Gus Katsaros on his segment on the Fan590 this afternoon.Â Outstanding analysis of both the Phil Kessel/Savard relationship and analysis of the Boston Bruins schedule last year vs this year.Â The little snip at Mr MacLean at the end was priceless as well..Â Congrats Gus, and again, wonderful work..
By now, I’m sure many of you have seen ESPN’s report of a significant offer by the Maple Leafs for Phil Kessel: two 1st round picks and a 2nd round pick. The general reflex reaction that we’ve been conditioned to by the Toronto media the last few seasons is to avoid moving 1st round selections by any means necessary. The thought of moving two such commodities is beyond horrifying. I’ve seen the name Taylor Hall used as the backbone of many an argument over the last few days, often associated with the “chance” of landing said player. If we’re gonna turn this into a game of chance, let’s at least get all the cards on the table.
Amid speculation that Brian Burke is positioning himself to extend an offer sheet – perhaps to long-rumoured target, 22-year-old winger Phil Kessel – after swapping picks to recover the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick in a deal that would seemingly make little sense otherwise, there is another possibility to consider in regards to trade negotiations.
Adnan Virk of Leafs TV recently caught up with GM Brian Burke for a brief chat and in his latest blog on mapleleafs.com, dishes out a few very revealing and interesting tidbits. Among the hot topics of discussion are: Burke’s projected top six defense core (including a few surprises), his expectations and hopes for Alexei Ponikarovsky, and the possibility of the Leafs ’09 7th overall pick Nazem Kadri cracking the roster out of training camp.
“Burke loves the guy…very low maintenance.Â It’s obvious this is not going to be a slow rebuild.Â Burke is too competitive.Â He believes his chances to make the playoffs are very good and wants to win now.Â Rumblings are that Kabs was very overvalued.Â He’s talented but not a game changer like Pronger, etc. Teams believed he would be a nice asset but not the franchise type guy who would put a club over the top… plus he had a bad year last season.Â The best deal Burke was offered was a touted prospect (Jakub Voracek) plus maybe a second round pick.
In the MLSE land of unreasonable expectations, even a superstar troupe like Burke and Wilson will not be afforded another record breaking season; at least not if said record is a fifth consecutive season of playoff free hockey. Subsequently Burke is going to be looking for a catalyst to the rebuilding project come summer and the most obvious route will arrive in early July, not a week earlier in Montreal.
It was something that immediately popped into my head when it was announced that the Ponikarovsky to Nashville rumors were untrue and Antropov was dealt to the Rangers minutes later â€“ did Antropov do for the Leafs what Sundin never would? The Leafs were only looking at a pick for Moore and a 4th rounder they purchased from the Lightning. The deadline was looming over their heads and off went Antropov and the remainder of his one year deal.
For a full team-by-team breakdown of all playoffs clubs, sure bets and sleeper picks for your playoff pools, visit the McKeen’s Playoff Preview where the factors below have been outlined and pointed out in a team-by-team write up.
So you’re Brian Burke and it’s July 1st.
Who do you go after? And what is the contract you offer?
When was the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs produced a bonafide star calibre forward through their development system? Sadly, the only one in recent memory, Brad Boyes, doesn’t even play for the Leafs, but rather for the St. Louis Blues (where Toronto 1st rounders go as they mature).
A message to those disappointed in yesterday’s anti-climactic outcome:
Stop expecting the big deals (except Kaberle, see below). Watch the small things in the context of the big picture. Yesterday may not have been ideal, but it symbolically stamped the new regime in Toronto as legit. No more stop gap solutions.
Couple of quick notes:
The conditional pick received in the Nik Antropov trade is determinant upon the Rangers’ playoff success. While I’m awaiting confirmation from a team official, the pick seems to be conditioned upon the the following: If the Rangers advance beyond the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Leafs will receive the Rangers’ 4th round pick in 2010. I’ll be the first to call the likelihood of that “very slim.” Go Rangers!
Done deal. Leafs receive a 2nd rounder and another conditional pick.
Big Nik is deserving of a lot of respect from the Leaf faithful. He was a consummate professional in perservering through a lot of early-career controversy to become a productive top six scorer. Best of luck to Nik in the Big Apple.
On a night where the real buzz was focused on mounting trade talk, the Leafs tied a NHL record for consecutive overtime games.Â Vesa Toskala played an exceptional game in net, and the Leafs came alive in the third period to transform an otherwise dull game into an exciting back-and-forth goaltender’s battle. After an almost full five minutes of riveting overtime play, Toronto eventually succumbed to an Oduya winner.
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.
Update: A source’s response to Brian Burke’s rhetoric: â€œBurkieâ€™s making me laughâ€¦do you believe a thing he says right now? Theyâ€™ve mulled over a number of offers and will continue to do so. Heâ€™s trying to temper expectations here as he doesnâ€™t know if he can get the kingâ€™s ransom on these deals like heâ€™s aiming for. Believe me, heâ€™d almost trade the whole team less Schenn if he could. The Kaberle – Bruins denial was semantics as well.”
-Draft pick be damned, being 7-1-1 in our last nine against the Senators is truly heart-warming. P.S., it’s time to point the finger where it needs to be pointed, Bryan Murray… trade Jason Spezza and shake things up in the old country club. Also trade Nick Foligno. To us. For Hollweg.
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