Random talking points on a variety of topics including Giguere’s shutout streak, a refreshing new attitude, the Schenn/Phaneuf connection, pending UFAs and more.
- Two games into his Maple Leafs career, Jean-Sebastian Giguere already has more shutouts (2) than Vesa Toskala had this season (1), and has the same number of shutouts as Toskala had in his past 95 games.Â Yeah, I’d say the Leafs won that trade.
- Interestingly, Giguere’s two shutouts as a Leaf also give him the same amount of shutouts as Gustavsson and Toskala combined this season.
- On that note, should he perhaps be re-christened “Jean-Shutout Giguere”?
- Something that really irks me is all this talk lately, mostly driven by MSM, over how much money Gustavsson might demand on a new contract and – more importantly – how a reduction in playing time would affect that.Â But wait just a second: wasn’t the original plan for him to only play 25-30 games? Never mind that some quick math will tell you if he plays once a week the rest of the way, he is going to end up in the neighborhood of 38 games played. Something tells me his bargaining position is going to be just fine.
- Another signifier that there is nothing to worry about in terms of Gustavsson or his willingness to re-sign? His comments in the wake of the trade with Anaheim, where he expressed his eagerness to work with, and learn from, J-S Giguere. Sounds as though this kid will have no problem being a backup next season, if he believes it will make him a better player in the long run.Â And so far, there has been no evidence whatsoever to the contrary.
- Speaking of players with a great outlook, Ron Wilson pointed out in his presser following the victory over Ottawa that what encourages him most is the young players’ willingness to learn. According to Wilson, “they make a mistake, they want to know what they did wrong, and what they can do to get better” (4:15 mark of the clip linked above).Â Refreshing, isn’t it?
- I can’t talk about attitude without bringing up this little gem: it took Vesa Toskala all of a week to start complaining about being a backup in Anaheim.Â He also can’t wait to “wash that blue and white out of [his] gear”, either. Don’t let the door hit your blocker on the way out, Vesa. Lord knows the puck never did.
- Andy Frost told an interesting story during Saturday’s post-game show.Â When Phaneuf was in the WHL, Luke Schenn idolized him and would beg his father to drive him to games in which Phaneuf was playing.Â Since the arrival of Phaneuf, Schenn’s game has, not coincidentally, improved by leaps and bounds.
- By all accounts thus far, Phaneuf has been nothing but a model teammate, bringing a confident, winning – and supportive – attitude to the team.Â Those close to the team suggest he has fully embraced a leadership role from the outset, and have summarily dismissed the “locker-room cancer” talk as fan-created scapegoating, similar to what the likes of Larry Murphy, Mathieu Schneider, and Bryan McCabe had to endure here.
- For all the talk surrounding the acquisition of Dion Phaneuf, Frederick “Shoestring” Sjostrom may be the real steal in the trade with Calgary.Â He won’t put up many points, but he knows his role and is steady within it. His positional play has been tremendous, in both 5-on-5 and PK situations.Â A smart player and an even smarter acquisition.
- Some have wondered why John Mitchell is playing the wing these days, as opposed to his usual spot at centre.Â Many feel that due to the lingering effects of the knee injury that shelved him earlier in the year, he has yet to regain the footspeed that made him so effective previously.Â The injury he suffered was quite serious, and although he may be ready to play without the risk of re-injury, the recovery period to the point where his game is 100% back to normal can take much longer.Â Hence the shift to the wing where top speed is less critical than it is at centre.
- On that note, you may ask, why not put him in the AHL?Â His contract will be up this year, and the Leafs need to figure out what they have in him.Â The NHL is a far better learning experience, and to his credit he has been much more effective since the switch was made.
- Andre Deveaux’s call-up should not come as a surprise.Â The Leafs have only been carrying 12 forwards and 7 defensemen since last week’s trades, so there have technically been two roster spots open for the past few games.Â Â Deveaux has certainly earned a look with his play this season, but beyond that the move also gives the coaching staff some flexibility with the lineup.
- One pending UFA I would like to see return is Lee Stempniak. True, his shooting accuracy has left something to be desired, but the rest of his game has actually been quite sound and his effort has never come into question.Â If the price is right, he could be a nice fit moving forward as a veteran presence on the 2nd or 3rd line.
- Wayne Primeau is another guy I also wouldn’t mind seeing back.Â Like Sjostrom, he is a player who is comfortable with his role and plays an effective game within it. He is also a good leader for a young squad.
- Approaching or at the deadline, look for Ponikarovsky to draw the most interest, with Exelby and Stempniak also likely candidates to be moved.Â At this point the Leafs’ primary interest is to gather draft picks, and the team is more than willing to bury a bad contract if it means a better pick comes their way in the deal.
- Tomas Kaberle. Don’t even want to go there, other than to agree with the general consensus: if he does not waive his NTC by the trade deadline, he is a very good bet to be traded at the draft. Simply put, (a) $27.7m is too much money to have tied up in the defense; and (b) no other defender on the roster could return the same value as Kaberle.
Looking forward to your thoughts as always,