Trade Deadline 2013 is in the books. The Kiprusoff scare is over. Leafs are still 5th in the East.
“Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.”-Anthony Petrielli -(@APetrielli)
For those of you who missed it and were doing something productive, yesterday’s experience reminded me of a famous quote once uttered by an esteemed San Diegan news anchor. In what started off as an eerily quiet and inauspicious morning, things quickly turned into a maelstrom towards the end of the deadline at 3pm. I usually go solo on this piece but given the magnitude of the Trade Deadline, I opted to enlist the help of some of MLHS’ great writers for thoughts on what transpired yesterday. We’ve got you covered.
In their only move today, the Leafs have acquired the 6’5, 235-pound Ryan O’Byrne, a big right hander for the back end who used to play alongside John-Michael Liles in Colorado. A depth add here, with a 4th round pick headed the other way to the Avalanche.
The first to break the Jarome Iginla to Boston trade, Aaron Ward is now reporting the Leafs have been given permission by Calgary to talk to Miikka Kiprusoff’s representatives about changing his stance on not reporting to a new team in order to come to Toronto.
After what feels like an eternity of Roberto Luongo being linked to the Leafs, it’s almost strange to hear a different goalies name linked to Toronto via trade.
But here we are, as Miikka Kiprusoff is now being connected perilously close to the Leafs.
After looking at potential trade targets in last week’s preamble, it only makes sense to look at the Leafs potential trading chips for the deadline that’s two days away.
Around the trade deadline, eyes always gravitate towards pending UFAs and the Leafs currently have five. It’s safe to say UFA to be – Colton Orr, Mike Kostka and Ryan Hamilton – aren’t going to bring Toronto anything via trade so we can cut them off the list of names to discuss. The other two UFAs to be are Tyler Bozak and Clarke MacArthur.
Following up on Nazem Kadri’s 3rd star honours last week, Joffrey Lupul is your NHL 1st star for the week of March 25-31 after four games consisting of 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points, and 3 game-winning goals (consecutively vs. Florida, Carolina and Ottawa). In his career as a Leaf, Lupul now has 99 points in 103 games.
On top of his natural offensive abilities, Joffrey Lupul is benefitting from a rest advantage having missed such a big cluster of games in a compact schedule. Joe Corvo certainly didn’t expect the late-game speed drive out of Lupul in an end-to-end rush to win the game against Carolina. Lupul is visibly “fresher” out there over 60 minutes. To his credit, his conditioning was described as excellent coming out of the lockout and he appeared to be able to take the time while sidelined with the injury – he was able to skate, just couldn’t shoot – to touch up his edge work with Barb Underhill. It’s tough to say which is the bigger factor here, but he’s getting around the rink better than ever, is engaged physically and he’s looked supremely confident coming off a disheartening injury layoff.
Without Lupul jumping back into the lineup and hitting the ground running, you could make an argument the Leafs would be in notably worse shape than their current 20-12-4. They beat Boston 3-2 without him, but remember, he entered the lineup at a time when the Leafs had lost four straight, a few in pretty ugly fashion. They were in horrible shape against the Jets in his comeback game and he played a big role in the team grabbing the loser point. Excluding the two games he was suspended for, the Leafs have gone 4-0-1 in his appearances since, and he’s scored in all and had multi-point games in all but one (“just” the one goal in the 3-2 shootout loss in Boston).
I’m not in the dressing room, but he seems to have taken on a leadership role among the forward group. That was probably the case last season, but he seems to be relishing the opportunity in front of him to help lead this team to somewhere it hasn’t gone as an organization in far too many years (when they get there, Lupul’s 39 games of experience will be the most the team has in any one player). It was also interesting to hear Lupul speak about the fans “finally coming to life now that the team has given them reason to believe. The tone in which he said it sounded to me like he had taken note of an at-times lacking atmosphere in the ACC while stuck in the press box. A few gestures toward the fans following his goals, in an effort to liven up the crowd, has confirmed my suspicion. He’s got a leader’s personality and he’s taken on a ambassador-like role for the team between his Twitter presence, the frequency with which he interviews (or takes on painful acting roles), and his Lupes Troops initiative.
A lot can and will change over the next four years, but, as far as earning that new contract goes, he certainly seems up to the challenge early.
After doing a great job of gathering up points over the past couple of weeks and pushing themselves well in to the playoff picture, it wouldn’t be a big surprise to see the Leafs hold off on any trades going in to the deadline this Wednesday. But despite the amount of success the team has enjoyed this season, there are some glaring weak areas that could be addressed, and players may become available that could help Nonis bring this club to a higher level.
We’ve seen the Calgary Flames finally give in to a rebuild in the past week with the departure of Jarome Iginla, and the Buffalo Sabres have been known to be in fire sale mode for a little while now. As Wednesday approaches, other teams will have to make a decision on which direction they’re headed, and potentially start putting bodies on planes as well.
The Leafs played the Sens in the fourth of five meetings between these two teams. This Battle of Ontario offered great value as the Sens held a two point advantage in the Northeast Division and the Conference standings headed into this one. Not anymore.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to earn at least a point in an eighth straight game Saturday night as they visit the Ottawa Senators, who have been on a decent run of their own.
In what is the most meaningful “Battle of Ontario” in the last few years, it’s more than just pride on the line; it’s home-ice advantage and two teams sizing each other up as potential first-round matchups. Toronto is trying on their new look as a playoff team for the first time in 8 years and Ottawa is revelling in their depth as a team that has been able to stave off huge injuries to Jason Spezza, Erik Karlsson and Chris Anderson with seemingly no drop-off in performance.
No, just kidding. He’s pretty awesome. He is an immensely gifted, up-and-coming defenseman, but he does have a little bit of learnin’ to do. In light of his recent scratch, I wanted to take an opportunity to delve more into his role with the Leafs and the relationship of his play against the overall performance of the Leafs defense over the course of the season. To that end, I will be looking strictly at even-strength play rather than specialized roles like the power-play or the penalty-kill.
In a matchup with big playoff implications, the Leafs could move ten up on the 10th-placed Carolina Hurricanes with a win in this four-point swing game. A loss in regulation puts the Hurricanes within six with three games in hand.
The Hurricanes are an opponent the Leafs have struggled with in both matchups this season. Their strength down the middle has played a key role as the Staal brothers have featured prominently on the scoresheet in a combined 7-2 win over the two games. Among teams the Leafs have played more than once, the Canes are the only opponent they have gained zero points off of.
WOW. What a turn of events in the Iginla sweepstakes. Mid-way through writing this piece, I paused to check for updates on Twitter and in an instant, Iginla had gone from a Bruin to a Penguin. Going back the other way to Calgary are college prospects Kenneth Agostino (20, LW), Ben Hanowski (22, LW), and Pittsburgh’s 2013 1st-round draft pick. From the outset, Feaster isn’t getting much credit for the return he’s getting but, it appears that Pittsburgh was Iginla’s call. Per Elliote Friedman:
Feaster said Iginla made the call on PIT. Added the draft choice is not conditional.
When faced with such a tectonic move, my first instinct is to take a breath and look at it from 30,000 feet – to try and take the broad level view. I asked myself, how does this change the competitive landscape of the East Conference? How does this move affect the Leafs? Who are the winners and losers of the trade? Will Iginila thrive under Dan Bylsma’s system? Where does Iginila fit in the line-up, and what of his role? At the surface level, the Pens’ active roster stays intact and get an infusion of leadership, class, skill, and toughness. Ray Shero is really going all-in here and the proposition of lining up Crosby and Iginla is a terrifying proposition, just ask Ryan Miller. In the coming days, I’m sure these questions will be addressed by the mainstream media and by members of the blogosphere.
This is a different kind of piece.
Before you read on, I submit this for your consideration:
For those of you who are unable to watch the video, it contains a segment from the Colbert Report, and it features a 13-minute montage of blatant Bostonian hypocrisy.
As I’m sure many Leaf fans were when they heard that Iginla was headed to Boston, I experienced some strong mixed-emotions. On the one hand, here you have a player who epitomizes class and leadership. On the other hand, he was headed to a hypocritical and dirty organization like Boston. If what Friedman said is true, then good on Jarome. Now, I am not privy to his decision-making process but I sure hope he considered the collective character of the organizations he was looking to join, along with, ultimately, the prospects of winning a Stanley Cup.
Iginla’s press conference is set for 10:30am (MT) and certainly lends itself to a tearful farewell. He has been the face of the franchise for the past 15 seasons and became the city’s beloved son. The loyalty he showed the Flames is quite remarkable, even despite the lack of talent and recent managerial gaffes. Adam Proteau, from The Hockey News, puts it best:
As the Jarome Iginla Flames Era ends, it should be noted there’s no classier player in the game than Calgary’s No. 12. The man is boo-proof.
In the end, Jarome Iginla deserved better than Boston, and I believe he made the right decision. As a hockey fan, I wish Jarome nothing but success and the best of luck in Pittsburgh.
Just a quick note on the Leafs.
Much has been made of the team’s relative success during the past 5 games (3-0-2) and many cited the home-and-home series with Boston as a test of sorts. Needless to say, the Leafs get more than a passing grade for their effort and surely surprised a lot of people. However, looking forward, I would argue that the next 6 games might be even more important than the past 5.
Including tonight’s bout against the Hurricanes (32pts -10th), the Leafs will face-off against the Senators (42 pts – 5th), Flyers (28 pts – 14th), and Devils (37 pts – 7th) once, and the Rangers (35 pts – 8th) twice. Essentially, 5 of the next 6 games will be against teams that are either in the race, or are within striking distance of the Leafs. Herein lies a crucial opportunity for the Leafs to expand their lead over lesser teams. If they can come out of the next 6 games with at least 8 points, for a total of 48 points, it sets them up nicely for the final 8 games of the season.
End of a long, strange day. Or is it start of another? College UFA D Dan DeKeyser could decide today (Thursday) which NHL team to sign with.
What an impressive showing by Joffrey Lupul last night. Re-united with 2011-12 running mates Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel after an in-game audible by coach Carlyle, he led the Leafs to a not-always-convincing 3-2 win over the lowly Florida Panthers with goals five and six in his last four games.
Toronto overcame a slow start on the second night of a back-to-back set to close out the league-worst Florida Panthers at home. The game featured the return of Joffrey Lupul to the Kessel line, simultaneously heralding the revival of said line as contributing members of the team.
After a game in which the Leafs sat back, tried to limit the damage and relied on the counterattack against Boston, tonight you hope to see the Leafs exhibit spells of dominance against the 30th-placed Florida Panthers. It’s a back to back scenario with travel in between, but we would love to see some killer instinct out of the Leafs knowing the state of the opponent and the importance of the two points.
Now, I’m not about to dig up every rumour out there on the internet and go through it, but I do want to provide some thoughts on the team, the direction of the organization, and what’s out there before the Leafs do (or don’t) make any moves.
Toronto Maple Leafs (17-12-3) at Boston Bruins (17-9-6) Last 10: Toronto 4-3-1; Boston 5-2-3
The Leafs did it. They beat the Boston Bruins. As a reward, they get to play them again two nights later.
It took a good mix of a lot of things going right to pull it off their first win over the Bruins in nearly two calendar years. To the Leafs’ credit, they finished their hits, got involved in the game early, caused some turnovers and grabbed an early lead. They were patient and the amount of respect they had for their opponent, and their hunger to finally beat them, was apparent in the extra effort the likes of Kadri and Kessel among others were putting in defensively.
The Leafs faced the Bruins for the third time this season. The Bs have taken the first two games along with their 8 last games against the Leafs which made this a statement game for the Buds. A celebration of Sundin’s induction into the HHOF gave it some more flair and we all hoped it wasn’t going to be a repeat of the effort shown on last February’s Sundin night. Fortunately, they got a do-over.