I really wanted to write a wrap up notebook, but I wasn’t going to subject myself to watching that game again, nor do I particularly want to write about it. I mean, the only time I watched that Bergeron game winner was live and that’s how it is going to remain, so I wouldn’t be much of a source for insight or analysis.
It really was a great year for the Leafs, though. At the beginning of the season I didn’t think they would make the playoffs, and at the beginning of the first round I wasn’t sure they would make it much of a series. They proved me wrong both times. They proved a lot of people wrong.
In order for the Leafs to get better, though, they’ll need to have a strong offseason and smooth out some of their rough edges. [more…]
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 [more…]
With the boats now foolishly burnt and the season 31 games old, the Toronto Maple Leafs sure look like they’re reeling into form. Since starting the season with a record of 15 – 9 – 0, the Leafs have gone 1 – 3 – 3 in the past seven games, collecting only five points in the standings and now sitting precariously in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
Through the good graces of the Hockey gods and the incompetence of their direct competition (the Jets, Hurricanes and Rangers all lost in regulation last night), the Leafs are just barely keeping their head above water. [more…]
If you count today, there are just four days left until July 1st, a day when Brad Richards hits free agency and hopefully, Toronto. As nerve-wracking at it might be, there are no other options but to wait and hope for the best.
However, I wonâ€™t be talking about Brad Richards today. I know the teamâ€™s prime need comes in the form of a top flight, highly skilled No1 C, but are other interesting names to consider for the bottom six positions.
Max Talbot can play all three forward positions. He excels as a penalty killer and brings a high amount of leadership qualities to boot. One of his biggest strengths just might be his performance in clutch games and the postseason. Talbot was an integral part of the Penguins Stanley Cup run in the 2008-2009 season fighting Dan Carcillo and willing the team to very important Game 3, 6-3 victory over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals over the Flyers. In Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals against Detroit in Joe Louis Arena Talbot scored both goals in a 2-1 victory. During that run, he had 13 points, 8 goals and was +8 in the postseason.
While there did turn out to be three signings from Burke and co. this off-season, it looks as though only one turned out predictable. The other two were a surprise signing in Brett Lebda (props to "Foliage," the only user to see this one coming, albeit at a predicted 1 year, 0.75 million, hmmm) and the inking of Clarke MacArthur, who was at the time of the contest not a UFA as he didn't enter the market until the ridiculous arbitration ruling in late July. Perhaps it was a poorly designed contest given the weak UFA crop. Or maybe too many of you wasted a guess on Ilya Kovalchuk.
Either way, outside of Foliage's Lebda pick, the Colby Armstrong signing was the only correct prediction throughout the contest thread, with 76 participants getting the name right and 13 estimating the salary and term for the full 4 points. Here are those 13 again: [more…]
Yes, those two particular players may not play for those respective teams anymore, but they both provided their clubs with offensive boosts (Afinogenov scored 61 points; Bergeron 13 goals and 34 points in 60 games). The point is that there are plenty of quality players available in free agency if the contract terms are reasonable. Luckily for the Toronto Maple Leafs, they have some breathing room, and options, to maneuver around the salary cap.
A former Leaf is about to sign with Los Angeles, as Alexei Ponikarovsky has agreed to join the Kings (although a deal has not yet been signed). Â This ends some speculation that "Poni" would have to take his games overseas, as this summers UFA market has seen a lot of viable NHL players still without a job. Â Ponikarovsky was shipped to the Penguins by Toronto at this year's trade deadline, bringing back Luca Caputi in what was a very fair exchange of players. Â However, Pittsburgh was expecting the Ukrainian to contribute at the level that saw him pour out 61 points for the Leafs in 2008-2009. Â With aÂ disappointingÂ 9 points down the stretch for the recent champs and an awful showing in the playoffs, teams weren't exactly lining up to sign the 30-year old.
Even with news breaking this afternoon of Ilya Kovalchuk's new $60 million contract extension (potentially) with the New Jersey Devils, this 2010 free agency period has been one of the most uneventful and slow-developing offseasons in recent memory. The reason being? Despite a mediocre at best free agent group, there simply isn't enough money to pay these guys what they're probably worth. As one unnamed NHL General Manager put it last week: "The teams with cap don't have cash and the teams with cash don't have cap". The Maple Leafs however, are fortunate enough to have both, and have the opportunity to exploit the market to their advantage. [more…]
As much of the league takes a post-draft/free agent frenzy breather for the Canada Day and July 4th long weekend, I figure I'll spark some discussion with a bit of educated speculation. In talking to a source over the past week it's been suggested to me that Brian Burke has a Â deal or two on the table for scoring help involving a Leaf asset he's struggling with the idea of parting with. It's said at this time Burke is hoping desperation on the part of the involved GMs reduces the price on a few top six trade options as the off-season continues. [more…]
The first thing that became clear as I was tallying up the results after Burke's first UFA pickup was that a lot of MLHS'ers saw the Colby Armstrong signing coming. 76 of you in fact. 13 of those 76 (Beathoven, moimoi28, Gordie Orr, dlb, xXGods SoldierXx, 2 Minutes, Sugar Hill, Sk8trBoi, Doorman, CbtSpr, JD, CarltontheBear, Tiguak) predicted the length and value of contract within 100K, some predicting 3 years, $3 million on the nose. While the majority of those who had Armstrong signing in Toronto had him netting a contract more in the 2.5 million/year range, there were almost as many predicting Armstrong would receive the $3 million he got or a shade above... which indicates the supposed "Finger-like" overpayment wasn't all that unexpected. Around these parts at least, many knew the price going in.
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.
It may seem uncharacteristic of Â Brian Burke, historically a headline maker at the Entry Draft, to sit essentially idle on the hockey world's biggest stage. Important to remember is that the big man can be patient when he needs to be. The Anaheim and Calgary deals of last February, when Burke waited until certain pressure points reached a head, were both examples of Burke's willingness to sit back until the time was right to pull the trigger - despite all the temptations to hit the panic button as his team sat in the Eastern Conference basement with no first round pick to look forward to.