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Just a quick update: Joey MacDonald has been placed on waivers with the intention of sending him to the Marlies, meaning that Jonas Gustavsson will in fact, be with the big club to start the season.
Also, Jiri Tlusty, Nikolai Kulemin & Tyler Bozak are not expected to play Thursday versus the Canadiens, according toÂ Ron Wilson. Still no word on who else is going to down to the minors.
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.
It may be righteous laughter because you’ve been saying it all along: “Toskala won’t bounce back this year”.Â It could also be nervous laughter because you think to yourself: “no way he keeps this play up…right?”.Â It may just be maddening, maniacal laughter as you cry out: “well we all knew this season just could not get off to a perfect start for my Maple Leafs”. Any way you cut it, there is no satisfied, back-slapping laughter celebrating the accolades of Vesa Toskala.Â This is what you would have hoped for among the legion of Toronto supporters to start the 2009-2010 campaign.Â Sadly, our Finnish tender has left us wanting.Â Tonight’s 7-6 debacle against the Buffalo Sabres was just more of the same.
The Maple Leafs continued their shaping of the NHL roster with another four cuts on Sunday. Top prospect Nazem Kadri will be going back to the OHL’s London Knights, Jonas Frogren and Christian Hanson will report to the Toronto Marlies, and Andy Rogers has been released. By my count, that leaves 30 players left (including Kessel who will be placed on the long-term injured reserve), meaning there will be another 6 cuts in the near future.
The Leafs improved their preaseason win total to six tonight at the ACC.Â These are the final chances for some of the young hopefuls, and they are not going to go away easily.Â Strong nights from Jonas Gustavsson and Viktor Stalberg were the headlines of this matchup.Â Even the defense corps has a rookieÂ strutting his stuffÂ as Ron Wilson deemed Carl Gunnarsson their “best defenseman tonight”.
Jonas Gustavsson will make his much anticipated debut for the Maple Leafs in tonight’s preseason tilt against Detroit.Â Coach Ron Wilson has indicated that he will be in there for at least the first period, but that the staff wants to break him in slowly.Â If Toronto does not get barraged in the first twenty minutes as they have in recent exhibition matches, the Monster’s tenure may stretch to a period and a half.
Ed. Note: Meet Daniel Santos, the newest member of the MLHS blogging team. Daniel serves as the Editorial Coordinator for The Score, and formerly blogged about the Maple Leafs for The Score’s “Six Pack.” Welcome, Dan.
Well, the comeback kids couldn’t do it tonight. Unlike last night against Pittsburgh, The Leafs couldn’t overcome a slow start tonight and fell 3-2 to the Buffalo Sabres.
Some different thoughts for the day, including some fantasy changes for Leafs players, another fantasy show appearance, and addressing the talk about Kadri staying in Toronto this season.
After watching the first four pre-season games, I’ve noticed a few players stand out while others have sunk into a state of mediocre play. This is my brief evaluation of the players we no longer need, including my own opening night roster preview. I look forward to reviewing all of your own opening night rosters compared to the way I view the brand new Maple Leafs.
The infamous Brian Burke “stamp” that has become his signature since his times in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim arrived in Toronto yesterday in the form of Phil Kessel and at the expense of the club’s next two first round draft picks and this year’s second round pick. Any time a general manager moves not one but two first round draft picks, it constitutes a major future-shaping decision and one that will ultimately play a major part in defining the legacy of his regime. Yesterday we were reaffirmed of one increasingly apparent fact about Brian Burke’s rebuild – it’s not your traditional model. We’ve seen over the course of the last three months – from June to September – Burke aggressively pursue all available avenues to try to position his club as a contender in the short and long term. Certainly, the 2009-10 campaign just got a whole lot more interesting.
Per the Globe and Mail: “The lineup for the Leafsâ€™ first preseason game against the Boston Bruins at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday will contain plenty of youngsters like Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Phil Oreskovic, Jay Rosehill, Andre Deveaux as well as veterans Colton Orr, Wayne Primeau and Jason Allison, who is trying to make a comeback. Look for Allison to centre a line with Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin on the wings. Joey MacDonald will play half of the game in goal.”
The big news of the day, which turns out to be nothing, really, was the absence of Jonas Gustavsson from practice. Ron Wilson addressed the situation, talked about the goaltending situation, Matt Stajan and hinted on lineup additions for tomorrow in the final day of training camp.
Leafs coach, Ron Wilson made it clear, Nazem Kadri will not be getting a nine-game audition this season, just to be sent down to the OHL London Knights. Answering questions in the media scrum after the scrimmage at training camp in the Mastercard Centre of Hockey Excellence, Wilson was adamant about being against an audition for the young pivot. In order to stick with the Leafs, the 1st round pick in the 2009 draft will have to beat out one of Mikhail Grabovski, or Matt Stajan for a top-6 role in order to stick, and as of Wilson right now, both are â€˜way aheadâ€™ of Kadri for a spot at the moment.
Kadri will get every opportunity to earn a top-6 spot, but unless he completely overwhelms, expect to see him in London for the entire season.
More notes from Training Camp, Day 2.
Earlier today I was able to catch up with the Leafs at their new practise facility, a day before training camps officially open. I had just arrived and pulled into a parking spot and just as I was about to step out of my car, a beast of a Cadillac Escalade pulled into the spot right beside me. I had noticed the New York plates as it drove in, and was quite pleased to see new Leaf Mike Komisarek step out. It was my first time meeting the former Hab in person and it didn’t take long to figure out why he was so popular and well liked amongst his peers and fans in Montreal. He was more than willing to sign any autograph demands from his new fans, and was quite easy going. Any questions regarding his relationship with Grabovski, and if there were any ill feelings between the two can be put to rest. During skating drills and the scrimmage that followed, Grabs and Komi were often laughing it up and joking around with each other with playful jabs and hooks. If there is any animosity between the two, it was far from evident. It was a pleasure watching Komi having a good time with his new team and cleary getting comfortable and fitting in with the group.
In the final game of the rookie tournament, the Leafs’ rookies were beaten soundly — to the tune of 7-1 — by their Ontario rivals, the Ottawa Senators.
Although I was not able to attend this game in person, fellow Leafs die-harder ‘Bell’ was in attendance for all of the games and has kindly provided some thoughts about the action (or was it inaction?) at the Aud last night, and the tournament as a whole.
Some interesting contrasting rumors/speculation in the Toronto media today regarding Kessel:
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star hears that Phil Kessel is very interested in joining the Maple Leafs and is already familiar with both Brian Burke and Ron Wilson through the U.S. Olympic program. However, Cox also mentions that it’s believed that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli is not overly enthused at the notion of dealing Kessel within the division but that Toronto is willing to pay more than the offer sheet compensation of three draft picks.
On the other hand, Lancy Hornby of the Toronto Sun reports that the Leafs intensified talks with the Bruins yesterday, and that Kessel could be headed this way in exchange for a “high 2010 draft pick”. Although you’d have to assume that the return would be much higher than that, the way it’s put seems to imply that it would be a single pick in return.
Leafs-related news has slowed to a crawl during the final weeks of the offseason, and this year’s summer movie scene has been rather unspectacular. Â I propose a cure for both maladies:Â a hockey movie to fill the void of a puck-deprived offseason, complete with all the excitement of a sports flick and all the truculence of an action blockbuster.
And so, without further ado, here is the game-day casting call for your 2009-10 Toronto Maple Leafs.
A tip o’ the hat to Don over at Mondesi’s House for the inspiration.
Â Jeff Finger’s name may be rampant with tireless innuendo, but few Leafs fans were laughing when interim GM Cliff Fletcher tied the unknown, but apparently much coveted Colorado Avalanche defenseman to a four year, $14 million contract in the summer of 2008.
Working out at $3.5 million a year, the ultra late developing Finger went from no name, to fifth highest earner on the blue ribbon Leafs payroll creating a maelstrom of discontent amongst fans that remains to this day.
From full term college player and three year AHL blue liner with only 94 games of (then) experience in the big leagues, Finger quickly became synonymousÂ as the â€œman with the contract,â€ reddening faces further still in the land of blue and white where the overpay became talk of free agency.
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.
So few players seem to ignite the dichotomy of emotions Jason Blake inspires. Undrafted, undersized and inconsistent, Blake rode the wave of a steep and late developmental curve and earned himself a five year $20 million contract at 34. A prototypical throwback to the malaise of JFJ’s overpriced veteran acquisitions, Blake has taken his lumps in the media, demands for his trade by fans and rekindled some of the form that made him a 40 goal scoring all-star on Long Island.
Yet regardless of his contemporary state of play or his trading value, few have a bad word to say about the Moorhead, Minnesota native.
Small wonder, with an immovable contract analogous to maligned teammate Jeff Finger, Blake has ebbed and flowed in rhythm with the turbulence of back room upheaval like no other. Dubbed a one season wonder whose goal scoring exploits for the Islanders were anomalous to a side lacking offensive leadership, Blake went from big fish in a shallow pool to floundering in the Toronto fishbowl.
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