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vancouver

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    Celebrating a decade of squandered potential and faded dreams, the draft of 1999 turned out shallower than an infant’s paddling pool, yet despite being regarded as an acrimonious footnote in league history the draft of ’99 also served as an unlikely backdrop to one of the most meticulously engineered pre-draft coups ever.

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      For much of the year, scouts from NHL clubs and private scouting agencies scour the globe for the next generational talent, the next franchise player, and the next late round steal. On Draft weekend, a year’s hard work is condensed into a single list of names, a few of whom teams hope will become the future building blocks for their franchise. In Part Three of the ’09 Draft Preview, the readers of MLHS are in for a special treat, as I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of E.J. Mcguire, the Director of the NHL’s Central Scouting Services and perhaps the most well-recognized face of the scouting world, about the upcoming June Draft.

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        In just over two weeks, the NHL Entry Draft will be upon us.  Naturally, speculation as to the future destination of the top prospects is heating up.   With July 1st rapidly approaching, trade rumours (some related to the draft, some not) and free agent speculation are abounding with fury.  And, of course, possible internal team moves are getting their fair share of play as well.

        Here are a few scenarios based on the latest buzz surrounding the Maple Leafs.  The question is:  which of these scenarios would you consider, and why?

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          Scouting service, McKeen’s Hockey Prospects released their 2009 Final Rankings, in conjunction with their 2009 Draft Guide which includes exclusive content and scouting reports on the top 90 draft eligible players. Patrick King, of Sportsnet familiarity talked about the draft in a Q and A session.

          Following suit with the likes of the Redline Report and ISS, John Tavares was not listed at number one. NHL Central Scouting doesn’t release a consolidated rankings, ranks are broken down by North American and International, with Goaltenders ranked independant from Skaters.

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            I’ve been trading a few emails of late with some “non-sources” (I want to be very clear about that) employed by various media outlets in the Toronto area, to get their take on the rapidly-churning Maple Leafs’ rumour mill.

            Although these folks are obviously not directly tied to anyone you would call a “source” affiliated with a team, their insight is often valuable as they are privy to more of the backroom chatter with those who are connected to the so-called “sources”.

              2

              Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.

              And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.

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                Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
                From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0

                It’s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldn’t make fun, but feel bad for them…

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                  Western Conference:

                  San Jose Sharks (1) vs Anaheim Ducks (8)
                  Preseason odds: Sharks 10/1 Ducks 12/1
                  Last 10: Sharks 5-4-1, Ducks 7-2-1
                  Season Series: Sharks win 4-2-0

                    12

                    With Files from Gil Brown

                    The current point system is most equitable for playoff races in January and individual franchise marketing, beginning as early as midseason.

                    Part of the logic behind Detroit Red Wing’s GM Ken Holland’s proposal, shot down in GM meetings in Naples, Florida in March, to change the season ending tie-breaking measures from Wins, to Regulation Wins is incentive for teams to get the job done in 60-minutes.

                    It’s about motivation, from puck drop in October through to April. But the current point system has greater connotations for marketing games, ticket sales and shaping the playoff race, the biggest issues for owners.

                      67

                      As the Trade Deadline approaches, speculation will continue to grow over which Maple Leaf players may be moving on to new NHL destinations.

                      The following is my own personal estimation of the likelihood of regular roster players actually getting dealt, based upon contract status, playoff/stretch drive impact potential, comments from players/coaches/management, and of course the metaphorical smoke & fire (the amount of repetition in the rumour mills).   To quote the great Chazz Palminteri, “a rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die”.

                        104

                        The reputable Eklund is reporting with an always reliable “e4″ rating that the Maple Leafs are closing in on a deal with the Vancouver Canucks that will involve Nikolai Antropov heading west in exchange for a first round pick and a prospect. To no one’s surprise, Brian Burke and Mike Gillis have been carrying out negotiations for some time now, primarily on the subjects of Antropov and Tomas Kaberle. A deal is not as imminent as Eklund’s reporting, but there appears to be deal potential in Vancouver and potentially of the blockbuster variety.

                          64

                          On a night where we can say the “Sundin Saga” came to its exciting and fitting end, the Leafs played a second straight game where they showed the hard work and energy that was so characteristic of their early-season stretch of hockey. Upon the shootout conclusion of this game, I received three different messages all musing over the same thing: “Whoever scripted this game did it perfectly.”  In the steady, reliable fashion that Leaf fans became accustomed to over thirteen years of service, Mats Sundin skated down the ice and with apparent effortlessness netted the shootout winner for his team.  Except this time, he was doing it for the Vancouver Canucks.

                            24

                            During my monthly fantasy hockey segments on Sportstalk Weekends with Rick Quinton on CKNW in Vancouver the fantasy scene always spills into analysis of real world NHL. Last night, with the segment winding down, knowing I’m from Toronto, the ultra-smooth basso-voiced host asked the question seemingly plaguing Leafs Nation.

                            Hey, B, where are the trades? Leafs Nation expected a roster overhaul with Brian Burke formally handed the keys to the franchise. So far, nothing.

                              27

                              fan

                              There are a ton of rumors flying around on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some a downright ridiculous and some may very well have merit. This is a close outlook on a few of those rumors and speculation. We’re under 2 months away from Hockey Christmas, where all the wonderful surprises of wanted and undesired gifts are passed around. A shopping list is what we all hope the Leafs are after, but sometimes there’s other plans that could be in place which may not seem so attractive at first. Consider that the following is merely speculation and rumors.

                                15

                                Just six months ago many a grapevine was carrying rumor of NHL expansion while I lamented the integrity of a revenue bound salary cap. Even into the new season few had foreseen the sheer gravity of the global economic downturn and its impact on jobs, housing, businesses and every facet of life down to sport. Now as international markets stutter into a depression that many an analyst believe could change the face of modern capitalism forever, the NHL seems to remain steadfast in addressing it’s minor successes as opposed to it’s crippling and potentially devastating financial model.

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                                  ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun is reporting that Brian Burke has been kicking the tires on a more adequate back-up for Vesa Toskala than Leafs’ current incumbent, the antiquated Curtis Joseph. What was initially tabbed as win-win move has proved to be a misstep engendered by nostalgia. The mandate wasn’t overly demanding for Joseph as the logic was that Vesa Toskala, coming off an impressive first year as a full-fledged starter, would only require relief for 15 games on the season. This hasn’t worked out for two reasons – Curtis Joseph has not proven adequate enough to play at a passable level for 15 games on the season (4.12 GAA, 0.843 SV%) and Toskala hasn’t by any stretch of the imagination been the unquestioned starter he was last season.

                                    31

                                    Former Maple Leafs captain, Mats Sundin may have inadvertently helped the Toronto Maple Leafs rebuilding effort. In signing with the Vancouver Canucks, Sundin may have already given Toronto the inside track at a piece Vancouver lacks to make them a contender in the West. That player presently wears blue and white. Tomas Kaberle.