Tim Leiweke, Dave Nonis, Masai Ujiri & Tim Bezbatchenko were all together on Prime Time Sports
Tim Leiweke, Dave Nonis, Masai Ujiri & Tim Bezbatchenko were all together on Prime Time Sports
Courtesy of the Toronto Marlies:
“The Marlies posted a record of 1-0-1-0 in two games this past week. On Friday night, Toronto traveled down the QEW for their third meeting of the season against the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens. Despite Josh Leivo scoring his first goal of the season just over five minutes into the game, the Marlies were defeated 2-1 in overtime. Martin St. Pierre tallied both goals for the Bulldogs, while goaltender Drew MacIntyre stopped 35 of 37 shots in the loss.
It is a little ironic that Dave Nonis left Vancouver this past weekend with an eerily similar problem to the one he faced while GM of the Canucks.
When the Hockey World woke up today, there was some good news if you are a Leaf fan.
Amid all the speculation surrounding Roberto Luongo that’s starting to snowball, and will continue to do so in the coming weeks, it seems as though one of the most overlooked parts of it all is the fact that he will have to waive his no-trade clause to where he wants to go.
Luongo stirred up the hockey world quite a bit yesterday by announcing that he would indeed allow the Canucks to trade him if that’s what their plan is. But he’s under no pressure to take a less-than-good situation at this point, and to think he’ll just go anywhere to help the Canucks out is false.
The Roberto Luongo speculation found another gear yesterday with the revelation from the 33-year-old himself that he would accept a request to waive his no trade clause. The big questions that surround any possible move to Toronto remain whether or not Brian Burke would trade for a contract he wouldn’t sign himself Â (backsliding and by his definition cap circumventing), and whether or not Luongo sees Toronto as a desirable destination. With Schneider in need of a new deal, Luongo will surely be actively shopped, and the market can’t be huge considering it’s narrowed by two parameters: 1) not every team is in search for a goaltender, certainly not one with Luongo’s price tag, and 2) the fact that Luongo controls his own destiny. Should the Leafs be a desirable destination of Luongo’s, the price shouldn’t be unreasonably steep considering those various factors.
I’ve talked about this before, but Luongo is made a much more attractive option for the Leafs if Burke believes an amnesty provision is a likely addition within the new CBA. An amnesty provision similar to the NBA’s that is, which allows the purging of one contract from the cap at any point during the duration of the 10-year CBA. You could certainly argue that, given the lack of options, Luongo should be a target regardless.
Links after the jump.
With Cory Schneider starting his second straight game in goal for the Vancouver Canucks last night, and winning, there are some in the Vancouver media who are saying Roberto Luongo may have played his last game as a Canuck. They also suggest Â that the Leafs, of all teams, should take a run at him.
Connecting the dots, it’s easy to see a fit. Toronto is inÂ desperate need for a veteran,Â bona fideÂ #1 goalie and there aren’t many that are available that meet the criteria. Luongo hasÂ impeccable pedigree and a lot of hardwareâ€”save for a Stanley Cupâ€”which makes him even more attractive than the current crop of available goalies. Cory Schneider has performed very well for the Canucks and in spite of all odds managed to wrestle the #1 position from Luongo. With Schneider’s contract expiring, the Canucks find themselves at a cross roads when it comes to the goaltending situation, and in light of recent events it could well be Luongo, not Schneider, Mike Gillis opts to move.
There are a few things that stand in the way of that: #1. Cap hit (5.33 million, in itself, not too bad). #2. Length of term (10 more seasons). #3. Value of (young) talent going back the other way. #4. The fact that Luongo’s contract, with his salary dipping to $1 million for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 seasons which the 33-year-old will never play, is clearly a cap-circumventing deal by Burke’s own rules, insofar as he spoke out against them and suggested he wouldn’t ever sign one. The key question here being “would he trade for one?”
There was a lot at stake last night, with two game sevens on the docket, and several second round berths still up for grabs. With four teams already securing spots in the conference semi-finals, the anticipation leading into last nightâ€™s game was even greater because of the uncertainty.
The Vancouver Canucks came to play in Game 7. Alex Burrows scored early inthe first period to give the Canucks an early one goal lead, which they held well into the third period. Two players on particular – Robero Luongo and Ryan Kesler competed hard and both had strong performances. Kesler was all over the ice and getting to the dirty areas to generate scoring chances. Although he wasn’t as flashy as goaltending counterpart Corey Crawford, Luongo was poised between the pipes and avoided his trend of crumbling under pressure. Unlike the previous three games of the series (all Vancouver losses), the Canucks managed to bring a physical element to the game, out hitting the Blackhawks 37-14 midway through the third.
After last night’s outcome, the second round of the Western Conference playoff picture has been determined. The Eastern Conference wraps up tonight, with Game 7 of the Boston/Montreal and Pittsburgh/Tampa Bay series.
What are your thoughts on the matchups on the West and who which teams will win tonight in the East?
According to Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star, it appears as if the Maple Leafs could be exploring all options in order to bring in another centreman from outside the organization. While Hunter explains that Bozak and Grabovski have essentially nailed down the top two centre positions to begin the season, both Kadri and Mitchell have struggled enough for Burke to begin considering alternative means of reinforcement down the middle. During the media conference call on Sunday afternoon, Burke had this to say about his current forward group:
â€œNo one has ever said weâ€™re going with this group. Weâ€™re still in a great position for waiver claims. We still have our scouts out scouring. We havenâ€™t ruled out doing something. . . . We may need to go out and grab a centre.
“Heâ€™s not played anywhere near to what we had hoped for and expected. I donâ€™t know why that is and heâ€™s running out of time.”
Hunter speculates that Christian Hanson will likely be slotted in between Colton Orr and Mike Brown on the team’s fourth line, which by process of elimination, suggests that the Leafs could be looking to acquire a veteran third line centre. Presumably, this would be a player who would mesh into Burke’s “top six – bottom six” philosophy as a defensively minded player who will win faceoffs, battle in the corners and contribute on the team’s penalty kill unit.
One such player could be former Canuck/Duck Brendan Morrison, whom Burke and Nonis are both quite familiar with. Morrison is currently with the Canucks’ camp on a tryout basis, but has been playing well. The 35 year old B.C. native posted 42 points and a +23 rating in 74 games played for the Capitals last season. If he doesn’t manage to snag a full-time job on a very deep Canuck team (Sedin, Kesler, Malholtra down the middle), then look for the Leafs to perhaps inquire about his services.
During an appearance on London radio’s â€œThe Hookâ€ with Norman James last Friday, our conversation at one point took an interesting turn toward the notion of player personality, and how it affects fan perception and the manner in which fans relate to the players.
It’s an interesting subject â€“ the trichotomy of fan/player/team identity, and not one the majority of fans spend much time pondering. What is it, beyond star power, that draws fans to feel they have formed certain bonds with specific players they have never met? What is it that keeps others at arms’ length? Is it the nature of the players themselves, is it our own as fans, or is it perhaps both?
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.
Okay, so my math may be a little off. Â It’s Canada Day weekend, there shouldn’t be any arithmetic. Â Unless, of course, you are an NHL general manager, than you better hope you have your math hat on. Â A quick note to say I hope our fellow Canadian readers, as well as our loyal readers situated the south had an enjoyable holiday weekend.
Now, let’s divulge into what has so far been a somewhat reserved free agency period, One timer style.
–The big news coming out of free agency this hour is this report out of the L.A. Times that indicate the Los Angeles Kings are quite far apart on signing Ilya Kovalchuk. While they may not be out of the running entirely, Helene Elliott suggests the prospects are quite dim. Â So where does Kovalchuk go? Â The Islanders reportedly seem to be the only team willing to offer him the term he is looking for (rumoured to be 10 million for at least 10 years) but are there other suitors? Â What about New Jersey? Â Toronto? Â One would think that although Burke would love to pull off the major move of free agency, the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi is balking about bringing in Kovy (term) is likely the same reasons Burkie has reservations.
Considering we were hearing word of $3 million + demands from Nik Kulemin’s camp, this is pleasantly surprising. It gives Kulemin a deserved $800k raise and a couple of years to prove he deserves a bigger, long-term extension, and Brian Burke the chance to see if the 24-year-old’s late season production wasn’t just the result of a default increase in playing time. Come two off-seasons from now, when both sides re-evaluate where they stand, the Leafs will still own Kulemin’s rights as an RFA. There is little doubt the Leafs are paying the extra cash for potential, but it’s certainly worth it given Kulemin’s 24 and was Leafsâ€™ best forward offensively and defensively on several nights during the back half of the ’09-10 schedule. Patience has paid off for Burke and Nonis with a reasonable contract for the next two seasons. At the very least Kulemin will provide a responsible two-way presence with some offensive upside on the second or third line. Beyond that we’ll have to see where he can go in terms of production.
While many didn't predict the Blackhawks and Flyers to be in the Stanley Cup Finals, there are plenty of historical facts that may prove the hockey Gods have decided this would be the match-up for the Stanley Cup before the year even started.
As such, here are a few quick takes on some of the headlines dominating the NHL landscape these days (including the Phoenix Coyotes situation, the Patrice Cormier charges, and Willie Mitchell’s controversial comments),Â as well as a quick glance at the nearly-completed 2nd round of the NHL playoffs.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Leafs vice president of hockey operations Dave Nonis is on the verge of agreeing to terms with the organization on a contract extension that will see him stay in Toronto at least through the 2011-2012 season.
For the last several weeks, it’s been rumored that Nonis was among the top candidates on the shortlist for Tampa Bay’s vacant GM position, but he has now apparently pulled out of the running. Looks like Brian Burke gets to keep his right hand man for the foreseeable future. Nice signing.
Ron Wilson, an alumnus from Providence College, was playing for Davos in the Swiss National League A in 1985 when pivotal Minnesota North Stars defenseman Craig Hartsburg was injured. Embroiled in a battle for a playoff spot, Minnesota were in tough to find a stabilizing replacement to hold down the North Stars backend whilst Hartsburg recovered. Ron Wilson, a standout collegiate defender who never rose above major league stopgap, became the go-to-guy having already played 13 games for the North Stars the season previous. A span that bullet pointed five seasons in Switzerland.
A grizzled journeyman by age 30; Wilson would provide stellar coverage in Hartsburgâ€™s absence securing an presence on the North Stars blueline in the 1986-â€™87 season before completing his NHL playing career with Minnesota a year later.
The news that the Tampa Bay Lightning have Dave Nonis at the top of their shortlist for general manager candidates was perhaps an instance of the inevitable. If Tampa or Nonis deem it not a right fit, we can only expect more of the same from other owners looking to fill vacant general manager positions.
It was reported at the time of Nonis’ signing that a one-year clause was included to assure Nonis’ services belonged to the Leafs for 2009-10 at a minimum. When Nonis’ contractual obligation ends is unclear, but from Joe Nieuwendyk to Steffan Kronwall to Justin Pogge, it’s clear Burke will never step in the way of an employee’s desire to advance professionally.
But not all hope is lost. First, let’s look at what the Leafs have in Nonis, and hopefully what they don’t end up losing.
As teams that are lucky enough to still be alive in the NHL postseason get ready for what should be a fantastic round two, teams on the outside looking in have already began the process of looking towards next year. Â The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the latter, having already been busy shoring up their goaltending depth in the past few weeks with the signings of Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens.
The Leafs aren’t the only team already looking to next year, and they seem directly related to another team that is doing the same.
Whichever way you cut it, the Leafs endured a torrid season that no statistical tinkering can mend. Regardless, if there is one thing most opposing NHL fans can agree on itâ€™s the increasing need for an overhaul in the leagues pointsâ€™ structure and the farcical awarding of points in the overall standings.
Where once every game had two points at stake, either by means of two for the win or split after an OT tie, the inclusion of an extra point for teams losing in OT or, more prevalently, after the shootout, has spawned an lopsided points structure that favours teams and coaches who adopt an cautious approach toward the end of regulation time that is the polar opposite of what was originally intended.