The Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided arbitration with defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, with the two sides agreeing to terms on a three-year contract. TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting it’s worth $9.45 million. Salary is listed at : $2.85m, $3.15m & $3.45m.
The 26-year-old Gunnarsson had one goal and 15 points in 37 regular-season games for the Maple Leafs in 2012-13 and added an assist in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.
A seventh-round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, Gunnarsson has 12 goals and 69 points in 224 games for the Maple Leafs.
But when looking at Carl Gunnarsson’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it isn’t a question of ‘if?’ It’s a question of ‘how much?’ The soon-to-be 27 year old is a restricted free agent this summer (on account of a late birthday) and you’ve got think he’s the third highest priority to re-sign after fellow RFAs Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson.
On the most recent Leaf Report podcast, both James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel agreed that Gunnarsson’s cap hit would likely fall between $2.5 and 2.9 million. Given the number of tough-as-nails minutes he plays, his chemistry with Phaneuf and burgeoning offensive game, I’d reckon his money will be closer to 3.5 million come July 5.
Whatever the cost, I wouldn’t miss the money, as 30-point defensemen and shutdown defensemen are not usually contained within the body of one man, and to have one so cheaply is doubly rare. The Leafs may need to improve their D corps, but Dave Nonis has real keeper in Carl Gunnarsson.
Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews lead a list of 47 players invited to a summer orientation camp for the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team.
The newcomers on the list include young guns like defencemen Alex Pietrangelo and P.K. Subban and forwards Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Claude Giroux and Brad Marchand.
The others are goalie Roberto Luongo, defencemen Dan Boyle, Drew Doughty, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Shea Weber, and forwards Patrice Bergeron, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Mike Richards, Eric Staal and Joe Thornton.
The goalies are Luongo, who was the starter in the 2010 gold-medal game, as well as Carey Price, Mike Smith, Corey Crawford and Braden Holtby.
The other defencemen are Karl Alzner, Jay Bouwmeester, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis, Travis Hamonic, Kristopher Letang, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Staal and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
The other forwards are Jeff Carter, Logan Couture, Matt Duchene, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, James Neal, Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal and Martin St.Louis.
Wingers Nikolai Kulemin and Leo Komarov were invited to orientation camps for the Russian and Finnish Olympic squads.
USA Hockey had their roster announced Monday afternoon and Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, wingers Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk were invited.
After a good comeback/confidence-building game against the Tampa Bay Lighting, the Toronto Maple Leafs have perhaps created more questions than answers. The Penalty Kill keeps improving (now 6th in the East) and, even as a “work in progress” defensively, they can at least score in bunches to get themselves out of trouble. They are starting to show the signs that the elite teams in the league show on a regular basis. While they are probably a couple of roster moves away from being mentioned in the same breath as a Pittsburgh Penguins, the rebuild is starting to see the light of day, it appears.
It was one of the first times this season that Nazem Kadri was paired against another top offensive line, but he did it the whole game. We’re not talking about any ol’ line, but the best goal scorer in the league and his better-than-ppg-avg wingman. He beat Steven Stamkos on draws, engaged in the game physically and on the score board. It was yet another coming out party for Kadri and what a nice live viewing for the 30 GMs that were in town to discuss various NHL issues. Most were at the Air Canada Centre taking in the game against Tampa.
Up until this game, Randy Carlyle has been riding the Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and—at least most of the time—Jay McClement line hard against the other team’s top lines. Too much so? That’s hard to say. Kulemin has had many opportunities that he simply is not bearing down on; he was on pace for 10 goals this season before his 2-goal effort against Tampa Bay on a line with Kadri.
“The one thing that we are going to do is we’re going to test Kadri against the best players,” Carlyle said after his team snapped a five-game winless skid with a 4-2 victory over the Lightning. “He wants that, he cherishes it and tonight it worked for him.”
“I think this is just another step in the maturing of a young hockey player,” Carlyle said of his decision to increase Kadri’s responsibility. “And I’m sure there’s going to be some speed bumps along the way and he’s going to turn the puck over when we don’t want him to … [but] the good things outweigh the poor judgments that he’s making by 10 to 2.”
Could #FreeGardiner and #FreeGrabo happen in the same week? It looks like Kadri wants to run with the top match-ups and wants the ice-time that is associated with it. Time will tell if he is up to the task, but this appears to be equal parts a praising and a scolding. Praise for Kadri and his excellent play to date, and a scolding for Grabovski who appeared, to me at least, that he didn’t like all his defensive zone face-offs and having to skate 200ft for his goals. It could very well be a case of lost in translation, but changing brands of sticks isn’t going to help Grabovski at this stage. He’s looking lost and it’s affecting his confidence badly.
Also troubling—to my eye—is how ineffective the Phil Kessel line is. Clearly, Phil Kessel’s game is all about speed, attacking off the rush, his release and his quick hands around the net. This may be oddly timed because Kessel is on a 5 game point streak, a testament to his ability to produce regardless of his circumstances. Kessel tallied a single assist last night giving him four goals and four assists in that span. He sits second on the team in scoring with 28 points but shifts go by where I hardly notice Bozak, him or JVR. They are clicking to a certain degree, but they are not dominating the way that Kessel and Lupul were last year with the absence of a legit number one centerman.
James van Riemsdyk, while a great addition to this team and yet another lop-sided trade from Brian Burke, is reaping the benefits from playing with Kessel, it’s just that Kessel is not reaping the benefits of playing with JVR as much as he could from a center and a winger who could play the game as his pace. MacArthur, Frattin and now Lupul have all “found chemistry” with Kadri. I think it’s more of a case of Kadri is just making everyone around him that much better. Lupul can convert those chances better than the others can. JVR would, more than likely, benefit from a good centerman more than Lupul, who has shown in the past that he can play just fine without one—no offence, Bozak.
Tyler Bozak, it seems more than ever before in his career, is playing way above his head on the 1st line. It’s dragging his, Kessel’s and JVR’s play down. He’s constantly a step behind and is not able to make the plays that the other two are able to. If you were to change JVR and Lupul, that would be magnified.
Grabovski, if we can believe what Carlyle says about Kadri, will be freed up to experiment up and down the lineup. The only logical reason that Kessel and Grabovski have never played extended periods of time together is because, it can be assumed, they both love to have the puck on their stick and both love to carry the puck through the neutral zone—they play a similar game, not a complementary game.
The caveat to that, I would contest, is that elite players will figure out how to get the puck to each other. Grabovski can skate, stick handle, navigate through traffic and shoot at absolutely top speed–the same as Kessel can. They’re good enough to play on the PP together, but that is a different discipline where it’s rarely ever off the rush and is instead done with puck movement inside the offensive blueline. Both players’ strength is scoring off the rush and, if you are going to keep Kessel on this team long term and get the most out of him in his prime years (his peak year is historically this year—his 25th year), you need a center that is as fast as him and not lagging behind the play like Bozak constantly is. I don’t think a “Big 1C” would work with Kessel’s game very well. If Kessel, Grabovski and Lupul could play their game at top-speed like they can—and execute—it would be a devastating line that would be able to handle some defensive assignments that Kessel/Bozak/JVR just aren’t able to do right now.
Carlyle is not afraid to put the blender away and try players together for more than 1 shift together. As much as arm coaches scream for change, it’s refreshing to have a coach that will play a line together for a full game, and even for bunches of games before he puts the blender to it. The one thing that has never happened with Kessel and Grabovski is them being played together, on the same line, for a week of games (or more).
Tyler Bozak is a solid hockey player trying to keep up with an elite goal scorer and an elite skater in Kessel and he just can’t keep up with the speed at which the plays are made. Bozak playing with MacArthur and Frattin on the third line would be a much better fit—soft starts, good chances at dominating the faceoff dot—and starting each play with all-important possession—and playing with players of his calibre and his foot speed. It will improve his output tremendously if he can slow the game down to his speed and play with two good, solid wingers in MacArthur and Frattin.
Under Ron Wilson, this experiment would likely have never happened; he had all the opportunity in the world to try it. Under Randy Carlyle, if he does experiment with them on the same line, you would hope that, in keeping with tradition, he’ll give them the appropriate allotment of games together to either sink or swim with this idea for the rest of the season and into the playoffs.
As far as statistical data, Left Wing Lock is said to be wildly inaccurate, but it’s all we have.
The Tampa Bay Lighting (13-15-1) are in town to take on the Toronto Maple Leafs (15-12-2).
The other day, Randy Carlyle called the Leafs’ inability to initiate clean breakouts and avoid getting hemmed in their own zone “the big mystery with this group.” He’s taken steps toward resolving it with the addition of both John Michael-Liles and Jake Gardiner to the lineup, who will apparently play together on a pairing tonight as the defence takes a shape much closer to what many armchair coaches were penciling together before the season. It will be interesting to see how the pair affect the breakout and overall puck movement off the backend. Gardiner will also look to inject some life into a powerplay that’s 0 for its last 19.
Speaking of interesting quotes from the other day, Dave Nonis was asked if the Leafs were in the midst of a downfall akin to last season, with his team currently on a 0-3-2 skid. Nonis said, “The one difference I would draw – I just went over the last 5 games – I think there was only one game where we weren’t happy with the performance and the effort. Last year, when things were going poorly, were were unhappy with the effort a lot more than that.” So let’s hope that translates into an upturn in results before the Leafs play their way out of the playoff picture.
The Leafs were hurt by an off outing from Ben Scrivens in their last meeting with the Lightning. Facing their first non-playoff opponent in five games, this is also a good time to get their first win in five games. James Reimer gets the start.
Liles and Gardiner form the second pairing, with Kostka remaining in the press box for the third straight game. Phaneuf and Gunnarsson will be tasked with the Stamkos and St. Louis head-to-head. Vinny Lecavalier is out with a broken foot.
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Toronto Maple Leafs Line-up vs Tampa Bay Lighting, March 20th, 2013
Tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs (10-6-0) take on the Tampa Bay Lighting (7-6-1) and look to replicate last year’s success in a season series that saw Toronto outscore Tampa 20-7 in their 4-game battle. The Leafs have won six of seven on the road while Tampa Bay Lightning have dropped their last three on home ice.
“We’re still very much a work in progress,” were Randy Carlyle’s words after the team earned its 10th win in its sixteenth game last night against the Panthers. Complacency is being beaten out of the this club, with the coaches keenly aware of the type of start the Leafs got off to last season and where that ended up. The Leafs are looking to reverse their fortunes this season and seem to be a more detail-oriented club with better coaching and solid 1-2 goaltending from Scrivens and Reimer, who at last check had the best combined GAA in the league.
Boy the playoffs have been pretty good this year huh? News is slow in Leafland nowadays so let’s talk some hockey.
On Tuesday night, I witnessed Sidney Crosby light up the Senators to the tune of a 4 point night, bringing his series totals up to 11 points in 4 games played. And that Malkin kid who also scored, ain’t too shabby either. Last night, I was privy to a a pair of lasers launched by Ovechkin which basically choked the life out of the Bell Centre. To cap off the evening, I was wowed by a 20 year old Drew Doughty, who has 6 points through his first 4 career playoff games, and thought to myself that this kid might already be the best defenseman in the NHL. So then I started thinking: If you could pluck a single player off any roster to build a franchise around who would it be?
Do you go with the second year co-winner of the Rocket Richard trophy in Steven Stamkos? Do you go with the Golden boy Sidney Crosby? Maybe one of the Russian snipers in Malkin or Ovechkin? Honestly, I’d have a helluva time turning down Doughty… the kid is a fricking monster… and defense wins championships. So there you go.
(On the road … so here is a quick thread for tonight’s action.)
The Toronto Maple Leafs (21-33-12), who are coming off a hard-fought overtime win over the Boston Bruins, are host to the Tampa Bay Lightning (27-27-11), tonight at 7pm.
The Leafs, who are all but officially out of the playoff race, are playing for jobs next season. To that end, the young players on the roster have put together a string of impressive efforts, and if their resilient play continues, few players will anonymously refer to them as an “AHL team”.
The Toronto Maple Leafs just can’t seem to do anything right. The Maple Leafs surrendered another lead in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Maple Leafs fell to 1-10 in games decided beyond regulation and more specifically, 0-8 in overtime.
Some surprisingly good special teams had the Leafs ahead 2-1 late in the third, but a couple of 4-on-3 power-plays stemming from bad penalties resulted in the tying and winning goals for the Lightning.
Coming off an uninspiring performance during a 4-3 road loss to the Atlanta Thrashers on Tuesday, the Maple Leafs look to rebound tonight with a more energetic effort in Tampa Bay against a struggling Lightning squad.
The Lightning currently sit 13th in the Eastern Conference with 48 points, 5 ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and 4 out of the 8th and final playoff spot. For the Leafs to get back into the race, a victory tonight, and another Saturday against the Panthers, will be essential.
My Team Canada Roster selections may seem a little vanilla, but they’ve been selected to play out various situations. Penalty killing, power play and balance on all the forward units took precedent over sheer offensive/defensive ability.
After a sloppy first couple of periods, the Maple Leafs held on for a 4-3 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs blew a 2-goal first period lead, as well as a 1-goal lead in the second, but played a solid third period and came out on top. It surely wasn’t the Leafs’ best performance of the season, but it was nice to see them emerge on the right end of a tight scoreline for a change.
As the Leafs prepare for the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight, it occurs to many fans that while the Leafs are looking strong as of late, the fate of their playoffs hopes certainly lives and dies on the team’s ability to win in extra time. While it does not show immediately, the 7 extra points from overtime losses would still have them in 14th in the East, but it would have them with 22 points on the year and within 3 points for a playoff position. Toronto has had plenty of practice playing 4 on 4 overtimes and participating in shootouts, it’s time to start capitalizing on these extra points.
Aside from the occasional hardcore junior hockey followers, the majority of NHL fans will track the progress of their team’s top young prospects through highlight clips or boxscores. For the most part, the development and potential NHL impact of a young player then becomes a function of the amount of goals and assists they record at that level. I mean heck, it’s hard for Islanders fans to look at the 356 points that John Tavares has scored over the past 3 seasons in the OHL without getting excited. And rightfully so. All indications are that he’s going to be a very special player for a long, long time.
On the flip side, you’ve also got the purists who value a keen scouting eye to judge traits such as leadership ability, instincts, emotional drive, among other skills that cannot be represented numerically. Back in March, when news spread of Tavares breaking the all-time OHL goal scoring record held by Peter Lee, the first reaction by many was “Who the heck is Peter Lee?” Just some guy who scored 81 goals and 161 points in his last junior season is all… Well, point taken. Stats and numbers don’t mean everything, but the question is: how much DO they mean?
Now that we’re in the TRUE off-season (in which nothing usually happens until September) I came across a little rumor not started by Eklund that raised an eyebrow, so I decided to pass it on. Keep in mind, I don’t even know the people personally who brought this up so it’s definitely peculation as of right now, but still interesting to say the least. It involves the Leafs, Lightning and Blues.
For the second year in a row, Team Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in yesterday’s gold medal game at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland. Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and the Russian defense managed for the most part to keep a prolific Canadian offense in check.
I’ve read a lot of comments and feedback on everyone’s take for this pick but this is what has been making the rounds in the rumor mill – yes, rumors are still circulating through the playoffs. Keep in mind that this is pure speculation and isn’t exactly a mainstream rumor, but it is interesting and perhaps logical.
There’s the notion that signing Christian Hanson and Tyler Bozak and other College Free Agents allows the Buds to trade off other picks, perhaps even to move up in the draft.
The justification is having signed these free agent Collegians fills roster spots allowing them to maneuver around the draft, possibly even moving up to land a Hedman or Tavares at the number one or two spot.
(My take is forgetting either of them and draft Brampton Battalion forward, Matt Duchene, but thatâ€™s a blog for another day.)
Brian Burke doesn’t take credit for the Maple Leafs drafting Luke Schenn 5th overall in 2008, but he’s sure glad they did.Â Under different circumstances, which we’ll get into over a series of posts, Burke’s Ducks would have been in the mix for the Saskatoon native at the 2008 draft.
Fortune shined on the blue and white allowing them to trade up to 5th overall pick.Â There was an associated cost from their original seventh spot, but the end result is a potential future Maple Leafs captain of the Scott Stevens mold.
Unbelievable as it seems; perhaps, even laughable, Schenn, could have been wearing Ducks colors.
The story doesn’t begin in Anaheim, however.Â It starts in Edmonton.
The league has announced a 3 game suspension for Maple Leafs rookie Mikhail Grabovski after the â€œabuse of an officialâ€ during last nightâ€™s loss to the Montreal Canadiens. The game got heated, and former Canadien, Grabovski, tried to go after the encouraging Sergei Kostitsyn, but were both held by the officials â€“ Grabovski was pinned to the ice. The â€œinterventionâ€ (which no one ever likes) caused both to become quite upset and, ultimately, Grabovski got up off the ice, used some choice words (which are assumed to have translated into English as â€œI donâ€™t like your faceâ€) then bumped into the official who pinned him and used the same words on the linesman. Near the end of Grabovskiâ€™s speech, he kicked ice at the official (oooo) and skated off the ice giving the audience a double peace-sign â€“ very political.