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Despite an encouraging 3-0-4 record in their past 7 games, the Maple Leafs continue to explore ways to improve their roster with an eye to both the current season and the future. Â The following is a rundown of the latest rumours making their way around the campfire in reference to the boys in blue.
With Kessel and Gustavsson integrating themselves into the lineup, the team seems poised to break off a big-time run to put themselves back into the Eastern Conference’s playoff picture. The team is playing very well of late and continued to build on that with an impressive 5-1 victory at home against the Detroit Red Wings on Hall of Fame night.
Update: During post-game media scrum, Wilson says Komisarek’s injury not serious.
Couple of intriguing tidbits from HB/ESPN’s Andy Strickland: Defenseman Jeff Finger WANTS to be sent down to the AHL to save a few bucks? Are the Leafs planning to place forward Jamal Mayers on waivers soon?
This past Saturday, The Fourth Period discussed on their radio segment the possibility of the Toronto Maple Leafs trading Tomas Kaberle at some point this season, if the team’s fortunes do not begin to improve.
The topic itself is not exactly news; talk of Kaberle being moved for some sort of tantalizing return or another has been commonplace in Toronto during the past couple of seasons. What is interesting, however, is the timing. Â Kaberle has been on a statistical tear to begin the year, leading all NHL defensemen with 17 points (2g, 15a) in 12 games. Â Coming off a disasterous 2008-09 campaign, Kaberle is back on the collective radars of several teams who believe a top-flight offensive blue-liner may be the final piece to their puzzle.
No truer words ring out to the ears of the throng of fans and particularly management of the Leafs victory over the current GM’s former organization.
And it took Alice in Chains to create them.
Cali, you’re alright …..
There’s nothing like an 0-6-1 start to push the rumour mill into full swing. Â Â The following is a quick rundown of some of the talk working its way through the grapevine.
As always, this is only talk — as in, players rumoured to be under consideration, not deals that are on the brink of consummation. Â Take it for what it is.
Seven games into the season might still be too early to panic, but it’s becoming quite clear that we’re inching quickly towards the button. The Sun is reporting that Brian Burke has beeen making calls around the league in search for another goal scoring forward. In the same article, the Sun also mentions that Florida has begun preliminary talks in exploring trade possibilities for young power forward Nathan Horton, who has thus far struggled out of the gate. Is there a possible fit here?
I must confess, I bought in.Â I bought into the mantra of improved team toughness, improved goaltending, improved and revamped defense, and an improved top6 forward unit possessing speed and skill who would be protected and insulated by a tough as nails complimentary group of players.Â I watched the pre-season and was salivating at the skill, speed, and determination exhibited by the up and coming Leafs prospects.Â But, then something very strange happened, something I cannot comprehend nor understand.Â Every single player (with the exception of Stalberg), which had led to such optimism and belief of brighter days ahead – were demoted to the OHL or the AHL.Â I sat there shaking my head, and privately and publicly went on and on about how this team could not succeed without the youth.Â Ironically enough, I had absolutely no idea how right I was and how bad this could and would get.
Five games in, no wins, and few positives within the play to indicate a turnaround is coming soon.
Something has to be done to shake up this roster.Â Â Some sort of move needs to be made, that much is clear.
The question is, what?
0-2-1 after 3 games, and the sky is falling.Â Â Or so chicken little would have you believe, anyway.
3 games in and panic?Â Â Seriously?Â Â You’d think the Leafs just traded away a handful of high picks for a relatively-unknown goaltender with an injury history.Â Â Wait, scratch that — they did that a couple years ago and as I recall the move was far more heralded than denounced, at the time.
Which is exactly my point:Â you can’t know, early on, exactly how things will turn out.
With the new season quickly approaching, the Maple Leafs have brought backÂ the old commercial in which fans talk about their favourite Leafs goal of all-time (you know the one, right?). So it got me thinking, what’s my favourite Maple Leafs goal of all-time?
Borschevsky versus the Red Wings in 1993? Nope. Gilmour’s overtime wrap-around against the Blues that same year? No, not that one either. My favourite Leaf goal of all-time is Steve Thomas’ OT winner in Game 5 versus the Senators in the 2000 playoffs. Now the overtime goals by Borschevsky and Gilmour may have been bigger, but I have to put Stumpy’s winner at the top of my list because I saw it in person.
To generate some discussion, Capitals blogger Steven Hindle threw out an interesting trade idea involving the Toronto Maple Leafs: Michael Nylander. Yes, he’s old (turns 37 in about two weeks). Yes, he’s coming off a brutal 33 point season. Yes, he’s carrying a ridiculous $4.875M cap hit for the next two seasons. But, there is no denying the history of talent and production, including 199 points in 200 games from 2005-2007. Perhaps there is a possible trade fit involving the exchange of some undesirable contracts?
An interesting question was brought up by Dave Hodge yesterday morning on TSN’s The Reporters amid the Phil Kessel whirlwind that erupted over the weekend: if Peter Chiarelli wasn’t interested in matching an offer sheet at the dollar figure to which Burke eventually signed the 21-year-old, described by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber as “a one in 500 chance,” why didn’t Burke submit the offer sheet and pay but a third rounder instead of an additional first round draft selection? Farber seemed convinced not only that Chiarelli wouldn’t match but that Burke’s decision to go the trade route instead of offer sheet avenue was to save face, anticipating the charges of hypocrisy he would encounter linking back to his response to Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet submission for Dustin Penner that ultimately went unmatched while in Anaheim.
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.
TSN’s Darren Dreger is reporting a trade between Brian Burke and Peter Chiarelli that will see Phil Kessel join the Maple Leafs as agreed upon at this time pending a contract agreement between the Leafs and the restricted free agent.
Update: Damien Cox is reporting via twitter that the Leafs and Kessel have agreed upon a 5 year, $27 million contract, with two firsts and a second headed to Boston in return for Kessel.
Update: TSN has since confirmed the details of the contract and trade as reported earlier by Cox.
-The Leafs have to compensate for their lack of roster depth and the fact that Chiarelli is reticent to trade within the division by offering up a substantial package.
-As reported there are variations on the deal-including two #1s plus. Names have also been bandied about – White, Poni, Tlusty, Stalberg, Kulemin.
-There is not an overwhelming consensus within the organization that this is a good move – Nonis is notorious for holding onto picks and believes in building through the draft.
-Burke believes he can replenish the picks, to a certain extent, through trade
It took sometime to manifest, prolonged in the wake of shoulder surgery and stunted contract talks, but the September 10th news that negotiations between the Boston Bruins, Wade Arnott and Phil Kessel had come to an impasse reignited the rumor mill that has surrounded the Leafs and the Madison, Wisconsin sniper since Brian Burke first tabled Tomas Kaberle in the infamous draft day â€œmisunderstanding.â€
In the week that has passed since negotiations broke down, the value of Kessel has skyrocketed beyond the original RFA compensation of a 1st, 2nd and 3rd round selection in the 2010 draft.
The Boston Globe reports that restricted free agent winger Phil Kessel will no longer be negotiating with the Boston Bruins and will likely now await either a trade or an offer sheet from a rival club. The writer suggests that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli would likely prefer going through the trade route in order to receive a package of higher value than 3 unproven draft picks as compensation for an offer sheet in the $5 million range. The article also makes an interesting point: despite missing 12 games, Kessel finished tied for 12th in NHL scoring last season and the players above him average $6.5 million in annual salary. Makes you think, doesn’t it.
With that being said, the pressure to make a deal seems to lie on the Bruins because per the CBA rules, if Kessel were to sign an offer sheet before the Bruins can find a suitable trade, they would be forced to either let him go or match and keep him. They cannot simply match an offer sheet and then seek to deal him for a package of higher value than the draft picks during the first year of his new deal. But again, sneaking behind the Bruins GM’s back to ink Kessel to an offer sheet before they have a chance to act may trigger some harsh sentiment and retaliation.
In other news, just a friendly reminder that tonight is the fourth and final game of the Leafs rookie tournament in Kitchener, which kicks off at 7pm ET against the rival Ottawa Senators. Coverage will be aired once again on Rogers TV channels 10 and 60.
With news of the trade to re-acquire Toronto’s 2010 2nd round selection, rumors and speculation of a looming offer sheet have been a hot topic of discussion among Leaf fans and around the NHL. Among the many RFA’s, the three most prominent and likely targets appear to be Boston’s Phil Kessel, Buffalo’s Drew Stafford and New York’s Brandon Dubinsky. Here’s the latest news pertaining to that trio.
Amid speculation that Brian Burke is positioning himself to extend an offer sheet – perhaps to long-rumoured target, 22-year-old winger Phil Kessel – after swapping picks to recover the Leafs’ 2010 second round pick in a deal that would seemingly make little sense otherwise, there is another possibility to consider in regards to trade negotiations.
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