Dale Mitchell was picked in the 3rd round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, 74th overall. At the time of the selection, Mitchell garnered plenty of interest and pressure from the fans and media as the Leafs' first pick that year. They hadÂ traded away their 1st and 2nd round picks to San Jose as part of the Vesa Toskala trade earlier that day. A little over a year later, Mitchell has quickly been forgotten, partlyÂ from a disappointing OHL season, and partly from the emergence of his fellow draftmate Chris Didomenico, selected in the 6th round. [more…]
It wasnâ€™t more than a year ago that head coach Paul Maurice announced his team would make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup. Players such as Simon Gamache and Tony Salmelainen were recruited from Europe by general manager John Ferguson Jr. and provided solid try outs. Colaiacovo was announced to not be in full form for the season opener, which we later discovered he would not be ready until late December, after arthroscopic knee surgery and an awkward fall in a pre-season practice after attempting a slap shot.
It's time for Ponikarovsky to step up.
No more excuses. The now-Canadian citizen is going to have display his talent and prove to the Leafs why he should rejoin them in the long-term. The six-foot-four, 220 pound sniper has shown glimpses of being top-six forward quality, but that's as far as he goes before falling back into inconsistency.
I'm approaching the upcoming campaign with a win-win mentality.
Should the Maple Leafs dwell in the bottom five as virtually assured by Toronto media types, the opportunity to import a premier prospect to join Luke Schenn atop the prospect ranks will obviously be a major boost to a re-tooling club in the midst of its youth movement. [more…]
Schenn will play for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season.
I'm as sure of this as I am that Carlo Calaiacovo will get injured. While there is an abundance of defensemen competing for the two available positions (Kaberle, Kubina, Finger and Frogren will form the Leafs' top 4), Schenn will, at some point, stand-out from the majority of the group. Whether it's in training camp or mid-way through the season, as soon he joins the team he'll stay there for the remainder.
Before Schenn arrived, Anton Stralman was the Leafs' best defensive prospect. Now, however, things have changed. While Stralman is still shaping up to be a premium offensive defenseman, the Leafs haven't had a franchise caliber defender in quite some time.
There's a little bit of the irony in the title because in fact, Christopher Didomenico has rarely been in the spotlight at all during his hockey career. He is the definition of an underdog, and a testament to what hard work and perserverance can lead to.
As a young Toronto native, he was passed over by the OHL draft, after playing just 4 games in 2 seasons with the North York Rangers of the OPJHL. So, he managed to hook onto a tryout with the Saint John's Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, made the team, and has blossomed into a great young player since. [more…]
On Draft Day '08, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the bold move of trading up from the 7th selection to grab Kelowna Rockets defenseman Luke Schenn 5th overall.
Leaf fans have been waiting a long, long time for a young franchise calibre to fall into their lap, and they may finally have found one in Luke. Heading intoÂ the draft weekend, SchennÂ had theÂ presitigious honor of being lumped together into the group of elite four defensemen, who along with Stamkos,Â highlighted the top of this year's draft class. Luke was proclaimed the most NHLÂ ready and defensively soundÂ blueliner among the group, but his supposed lack of an offensive game has caused some fans to label him as nothing more than a defensive stay-at-home defenseman. [more…]
That was the game plan going in to the off-season after another abysmal season from our boys in Blue and White.
Given this arduous task was veteran GM Cliff Fletcher. I mean, it's not every day that MLSE realize their failure and place this kind of responsibility on their GM (orâ€¦ is it?).
Fletcher got to work right away, trading a 3rd round selection in the 2008 draft for Jamal Mayers. While this received mixed reception, the presence of Mayers to the Leafs' now young line-up is going to add some leadership to a team sorely lacking it.
Every professional hockey organization, particularly one in the Leafs' current plight, must exhaust every possible avenue when it comes to importing young talent into their system.
In addition to the chance to evaluate the progress of your developing prospects front-and-centre, the upcoming rookie tournament provides a valuable opportunity to invite undrafted youngsters for a 3 game trial run. Last year this event proved fruitful for the Maple Leafs, who uncovered a hidden gem by the name of Darryl Boyce. The Summerside native was already preparing for life-after-hockey at the University of New Brunswick when, after a fantastic championship-winning campaign with U of NB he was signed to a minor-league contract and invited by John Ferguson Jr. to play in the 2007 rookie tournament in Kitchener. [more…]
GM Cliff Fletcher has made some questionable trades this off-season and the addition of Mikhail Grabovski to the Leafs' line-up is an intriguing one â€“ one that is going to cost Toronto a 2nd round selection in 2010.
Grabovski is a bit of an unknown commodity. Having just 27 games of experience in his NHL career, (played 24 last season) he has shown strong offensive potential despite being caught behind so many players on the Habs' depth chart. The Belorussian was a victim of the numbers game, only averaging 11 minutes and 12 seconds of ice-time last season - he also registered a feeble 26 seconds per game on the PP. With that said, he accumulated 3 goals and 9 points in the 24 games played.
*Sunday Morning Update: Nothing ground-breaking here, but Fletcher told me via e-mail this morning that there were no new developments in Friday's meeting between himself, Mats Sundin and agent J.P Barry. "Mats is going to take his time." It's expected that Fletcher clarified his position by reaffirming that Sundin was welcome back, with a reported $7 million, 1 year deal still on the table. Alex Tran will be checking in with his first blog sometime today. [more…]
*Update: Cliff Fletcher just reported to me via e-mail that getting Luke Schenn under contract is "not necessarily" his next focus.
Two more highly-coveted young [more…]