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Final Deadline Trades:
Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula
Martin Skoula to New Jersey for a fifth round draft selection.
Lee Stempniak to PHX for 4th and 7th rounders.
Joey MacDonald to ANA for a 7th rounder in 2011.
Wrap-Up: That looks to be a wrap on Brian Burke’s trade activity for the 2009-10 season. The Stempniak deal was obviously a form of loss-cutting on a pending UFA, but it’s a bit painful to remember who we sacrificed to acquire him in November of 2008 in two albeit underachieving first rounders in Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. The Leafs will not draft until the third round this year, and Burke did not succeed in that sense, however he moved the only piece realistically capable of fetching a second rounder for a semi-established young asset with the potential to replace Poni at an immediately cheaper price in Luca Caputi. It looks as though no takers could be found on either Wayne Primeau or Garnet Exelby, who look sure to now enter the FA market July 1.
There seems to be details yet to unfurl surrounding the Tomas Kaberle situation this deadline, as once again Leafs fans were teased into believing a deal was pending (involving Hodgson, as it was reported, or possibly Alzner from Washington) only for what looked to be an imminent deal to be flatly denied by Brian Burke in the end. There are rumblings that Kaberle might have nixed a deal in similar fashion to the Jeff Carter situation at the ’08 deadline.
From Garrett Bauman:
Although the Maple Leafs did not dip into the trade waters just yet, there were a couple events of importance that may determine how the next two days will shake out:
- Alexei Ponikarovsky left practice with a knee injury but did later return to finish it, albeit gingerly. Nearing its conclusion, he did head into the locker room accompanied by the team’s trainers, but it appears as if he was walking under his own power. Needless to say, any potential injury scares may affect the number of bidding for the Ukranian winger, particularly if teams are unable to get one last look at him on Tuesday night.
- The Penguins swung a trade for some veteran help on the blueline, sending a 2010 2nd round pick to the Panthers for Jordan Leopold. Later on during the day, the Predators sent their 2010 2nd round pick to the Oilers for Grebeshkov. This certainly puts an interesting twist on things if you believe the rumors and speculation. The Leafs were apparently offered a 2nd round pick and prospect for Ponikarovsky a few weeks ago, but now two of the most prominent teams mentioned in rumors (Pittsburgh this year and Nashville at last year’s deadline) have dealt that selection away.
With Wilson, Burke and Kessel all taking the day to fly back from Vancouver, we might expect to finally see some action on Tuesday.
With the Olympics wrapping up (and in the process Canada securing the record for most gold medals, capped off by our Men’s and Women’s hockey teams), the focus among hockey fans now shifts to the NHL trade deadline.
While there are few untouchables on the Maple Leafs’ roster, speculation is that only a handful of players are likely to be dealt between Monday and Wednesday. Here’s a look at some of the speculation surrounding the most-talked about candidates to swap jerseys.
For the second time in four days the Maple Leafs will face off against the New Jersey Devils, this time at the ACC. In what seems to be the most nonsensical decision made in recent memory by NHL schedulers, come this Friday the Leafs and Devils will have faced off three times in one calendar week. What’s up with that?
As you are all undoubtedly aware, the Leafs have a few new faces in the fold, and we are all eager to see what Phaneuf, Sjostrom, and Giguere bring to the table as members of the blue and white.
Note: I won’t get into trade analysis here; that has already been covered in excellent fashion by the MLHS crew in prior posts.
Let’s be honest, how many of you had either fallen asleep or changed the channel when your Leafs tied it up tonight? Â In a comeback devoid of any explosiveness, Toronto teased you with the possibility of an overtime victory. Â Hah! Should have known better, eh?
- The Toronto Sun has an interesting article up, talking about the future of several Maple Leaf players leading up to this year’s trade deadline. During an informal survey of hockey executives and general managers attending the CHL Top Prospects game, the consensus was that aside from Tomas Kaberle, Ponikarovsky would be the player who would garner the greatest return. It was speculated that he would perhaps net a late 2nd round pick, being comparable to but not as refined as Nik Antropov (who yielded the Rangers’ 50th overall selection last year).
- The article follows up by noting that players such as Stajan and Stempniak might get “a sniff”, but not to expect a significant return. However, it appears Burke has not been particularly aggressive in dangling any of his players at the present time.
- In another note, according to the Russian website infox.ru via the Toronto Sun, it appears as if winger Nikolai Kulemin will be named to the Russian Olympic roster for the Vancouver games. It’s nice to see that Kulemin’s solid all-around play this season is getting him some recognition from those outside the organization.
A shining example and further proof of New Jersey’s dominance recently. Even when blanked for the first time this season, the Devils still ended up with a win, the full two points, and Martin Brodeur extended his record string of shutouts.
The second half of the season is underway, and the Maple Leafs continue to struggle. Naturally, speculation has begun to shift to what can be done to improve the roster, and which buyers on the market may have interest in what the Leafs have to offer.
Happy Boxing Day, hockey fans!
It’s a great day for hockey here in Leafland. Â The World Junior Championship Tournament, featuring the Leafs’ highly-touted Nazem Kadri, officially gets underway this afternoon as Canada takes on Latvia. Â Following the tournament opener, we are in for a treat Leafs take on their long-standing rival, the Montreal Canadiens. Â And for those who are able to remain awake after all the holiday parties of the past two days, the Edmonton Oilers will visit the Vancouver Canucks in what should be a typical Saturday night Western Conference barn-burner. Â Does it get any better?
Now, onto the Leafs-Habs preview:
Johnny Misley is the Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada, and plays a key role in enhancing hockey in Canada across various levels: from the grassroots programmes all the way up to the National teams. It was very kind of Johnny to take a few minutes to discuss the programmeâ€™s aspirations in the upcoming World Junior Championship in Regina as well as the Menâ€™s Olympic hockey tournament in Vancouver.
Did the neutral zone trap morph into the shootout? The pre-lockout reason for altering the rules, transfigured into the shootout as teams play for the shootout more this season. If trends are any indication, perhaps the two memes have a direct correlation.
- The Globe sheds a little insight into Gustavsson’s heart condition, noting that the procedure went well and that he should be back between the pipes next week.
- Quick tip of the cap to Martin Brodeur for his 3-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night. The victory marked his 103rd career shutout, tying Terry Sawchuk for the all-time lead. Is he not the leading candidate for Team Canada this year or what?
- Speaking of Team Canada, I’ve got an exciting interview lined up with Johnny Misley, the Executive VP of Hockey Operations for Hockey Canada and right hand man to Bob Nicholson. We’re going to be touching on both the Men’s Olympic team in Vancouver, as well as World Junior team in Regina. Please add any questions you’d like me to pass onto him in the comments section below!
- Lastly, I’ve still got some tickets to the Islanders match up tomorrow night at the ACC. Be sure to drop me an email if interested.
Phil Kessel is a legitimate star in the city of Toronto. Â Per sporting tradition, he now needs a nickname which is catchy, instantly recognizable, and also describes him as a player.
In the course of chatting with a source earlier in the week, the topic of Phil Kessel’s impact in Toronto naturally arose. Â At which point the source mentioned, “it’s not every day a team can acquire a bonafide star, but the Leafs have found one in Phlair.”
Wait, what? Phlair?
“Yeah,” the source replied, somewhat sheepishly. “I don’t know where [the players] come up with these nicknames, but that’s what they’re calling him.”
According to Ken Roberts and www.sportsclubstats.com, the Maple Leafs have a 1.7% chance of making the playoffs at the moment…So, you’re telling me there’s a chance?
All jokes aside, I knew the chances were slim, but less than 2%? Is that really accurate? Apparently, Roberts’ site calculates a team’s chances of making the playoffs using a complicated algorithm much too complex to fully understand. But quickly, it takes into account many factors when calculating a team’s chances, including their current record, remaining schedule and goal differential.
Watching the Leafs play this season has already clearly demonstrated 3 distinct and separate teams.Â Â Team1 started the season on a dreadful 0-6-1 streak.Â Team2 surfaced on the teams first extended raod trip, and although losing the opener by the closest of margins in Vancouver, they managed to rally off a string of impressive games, still falling short and losing in extra time or in a shootout.Â Team3, continued to pick up a point in games and more recently have managed to win their last 2 in a row.Â But, IÂ was leftÂ asking the question, why the turn around?Â If one was to read the various media reports, 1 man alone was responsible for the Leafs woes early on (Toskala) and now one man alone is the saviour and is responsible for the Leafs turn around (Gustavsson).
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.
The big club’s off until a Friday night date with the struggling Hurricanes, so let’s take this opportunity to review the progress of several Maple Leafs’ prospects across various levels and highlight upon the season’s surprises and disappointments thus far. The verdict: fairly encouraging results early on across the board.
I know, I know.Â It’s just one win.
But you have to admit, it still feels good.Â Â Somewhat of a sense of relief is sweeping through Leafs Nation today.Â A sense that, although there is still a long way to go, things are not at a total loss.Â Â This team can find ways to win, and appears to be rounding into the sort of form envisioned by GM Brian Burke during a busy and much-hyped (over-hyped?) offseason.
The Leafs are set to visit the Anaheim Ducks as they continue to search for their first win of the season, and while one awkward stat is starting to creep up on them, it seems Gustavsson is ready, but possibly not completely game ready.
… they didn’t give up the fight.
Maple Leafs’ fans should be very pleased with the effort displayed in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Â Although another loss is disappointing on the surface, there is much to feel good about in regard to the team’s play following a week’s break. Â It is not often that one can look at a loss as a game to instill confidence; however, last night’s game should serve to do exactly that, among both players and fans alike.
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