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In part three of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at whether Mike Komisarek can rebound from a tumultuous first season in Blue and White.

It’s no secret that Brian Burke likes his hockey teams to be, for the most part, big, nasty, and in your face physical.  He also has a penchant for looking for players from his home country of the United States, but as he said, he would sign players who were from the moon if they could play the game.

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It was no less than two months ago that I was pondering this same question, that of captaincy, and examining the same factors. Thinking of all the tangibles – speed, talent and scoring – along with attributes that are harder to judge – the ability to command the respect of the team, lead with strength of character and handle the Toronto media through success and failure. The lone difference is that last time, it was the Leafs.

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Kris Versteeg has undoubtedly been the prize pick up for the Maple Leafs thus far this offseason. You’ve heard all the basics by now. He’s great in the dressing room, he plays all three forward positions, he produces under pressure and he’s a back-to-back 20 goal scorer. At age 24, these are all impressive qualities, but now the real question is: how he will fare in the Maple Leafs’ system?

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It appears as though Leafs’ fans will have to put the thought of pending-UFA defenseman Mike Van Ryn returning to the Maple Leafs on hold, as reports suggest he will remain on the sidelines for another season.

Last season Van Ryn underwent an osteotomy, a complicated surgery to re-align the knee, as an alternative to a total knee replacement. He spent the entire season rehabilitating the knee with the hopes of playing in 2010-11, but it appears as though the recovery process will take him well beyond that target date.

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It’s been a hot topic, and a touchy one at that for the better part of almost a year, since the day the trade was consummated.  The Toronto Maple Leafs, toward the end of the pre-season, announced that they had traded two firsts and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Kessel, a young American born sniper who the B’s were having issues resigning.

It was a steep price to pay, but you have to give to receive, and in Kessel the Leafs got a bona fide goal scorer who looks like he could be a perennial 30 goal scorer (more on that later.)

And yet some people have cast Kessel to fail, no matter what impact he has on the Leafs, attaching him forever to the trade that brought him here.

This past week, Bill Watters took that to the extreme, and took a piece of integrity written journalism and turned into something sensational and downright wrong, all in the name of making Phil Kessel look as bad as possible because he doesn’t agree with the trade.

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    We’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 Phil Kessel, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

    Acquired via a controversial trade during the 2009 offseason in which three draft picks were sent to the Bruins, Kessel rebounded from shoulder surgery to become the Maple Leafs go-to guy in the offensive zone.

    Despite missing a month of the season, the electrifying 22-year old winger led the Maple Leafs in several offensive categories while providing the team with a legitimate scoring threat — and their first 30-goal scorer of the post-Sundin era.

    Only 22, Kessel has a bright future ahead of him and many suspect it will be only a matter of time before 40-goal seasons become the norm.

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    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 organization in a trade with the NHL Wild (AHL Aeros) during the 08/09 season, 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 on score card.

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    Lots of reading today: Gus chips in an  analogical look at the NHL playoff series; Alex has your links with a look at potential Leaf Jussi Rynnas.

    In what was Brian Burke’s first summer on the job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was clear from the get go that he put an onus on improving specialty teams, and also team defense.  The brash Toronto GM made a lot of moves as it related to improving these areas, and on paper they looked like a sure recipe for change and improvement.

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    Note: If you crave insightful, indepth Leafs’ analysis, I highly encourage you to read RSW’s excellent article on Victor Stalberg.

    This past Saturday, Brian Burke was a guest on “Leafs Lunch” (am 640) and spoke at length about the status of injured defenseman Mike Van Ryn.

    Van Ryn, as you know, underwent career-threatening surgery as a result of a structural anomaly in his left knee.  The surgery, an osteotomy (known throughout hockey circles as “Steve Yzerman surgery”), is a complex procedure in which the knee is realigned via the removal of part of the bone.  Van Ryn has since resumed skating, but whether or not he will be able to resume his NHL career remains, at this point, unknown.

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      Seems that shoulder injury is worse than first thought. He shuts it down for the year as per Bob McKenzie. Yes. This time it’s legit.

      “Our team doctors have recommended this after a determined effort to rehab the injury without surgery. Having this done immediately is the right thing to do for the Leafs. I am truly sorry that I will not be able to represent my country at the Olympics,” said Komisarek in a statement.

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        It is their second meeting this year, and the first played a big part on blinding fans for both teams in the belief that each were elite competitors. Since that opening night, the Habs have on 5-7-0, while the Leafs have gone 1-7-2. But there are always upsides, and tonight marks to start to capitalize on those specifics.

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          Based on several reports, Van Ryn is opting for knee surgery that could potential spell the end of his career. According to TSN, “Van Ryn is having an osteotomy, a procedure by which the bone is cut and the knee is realigned. This type of surgery is usually performed on the elderly.”

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            A quick profile of the newest Leafs forward, and an excerpt from the McKeen’s Yearbook. For those in the Vancouver area, I kick off a monthly segment as a guest on Sportstalk Weekends with Rick Quinton on AM980 CKNW tonight .. we’ll be discussing this deal and giving you all a fantasy primer for your drafts.

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              >>>DISCUSS IT HERE

              It wasn’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.

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              The team has confirmed the reported deal in a 5:41pm press release:

              Leafs Acquire Mike Van Ryn
              Toronto Maple Leafs
              Sep 2, 2008, 5:41 PM EDT
              Cliff Fletcher, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Tuesday that the team has traded defenceman Bryan McCabe and their fourth-round draft selection in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft to the Florida Panthers. In exchange, the Maple Leafs receive veteran defenceman Mike Van Ryn.

              Van Ryn, 29, completed his seventh NHL season and fourth with Florida in 2007-08. A wrist injury in November and the subsequent surgery sidelined him for the final 60 games last season. The native of London, Ontario recorded two points (both assists) in 20 contests in 2007-08. He turned professional after signing as a free agent by St. Louis on June 30, 2000 and he was later traded to Florida on March 11, 2003 for Valeri Bure and Florida’s fifth-round choice (Nikita Nikitin) in the 2004 Entry Draft. Van Ryn set career-highs in goals (13), points (37-tie) and powerplay goals (six) in his first season with the Panthers in 2003-04. Internationally, he represented Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1998 and 1999 and he was a member of the University of Michigan’s 1998 NCAA National Championship team.

              Last season with Toronto, McCabe recorded five goals and 18 assists in 54 games with 81 penalty minutes. McCabe, 33 ranks sixth on the club’s all-time scoring list among team defencemen with 297 points by virtue of his 83 goals and 214 assists. He is tied for 33rd on the Leafs’ all-time scoring list and he sits in 32nd spot on the team’s all-time games played list with 523 games.

              In 917 career NHL games with the Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks and Maple Leafs he has 115 goals and 303 assists for 418 points with 1,574 minutes in penalties.

              McCabe was originally acquired by Toronto from Chicago in exchange for Alexander Karpovtsev and the Leafs’ fourth-round draft choice (Vladimir Gusev) in the 2001 Entry Draft. He was the New York Islanders’ second choice, 40th overall, in the 1993 Entry Draft.