Mashup: Weekend Warriors


Photo: Getty Images

It was quite the big weekend. I mean, how often do get a chance to sit around all day teaching your two year old nephew how to play hockey using his very first Maple Leafs mini-sticks? Oh, and apparently there was a draft and a couple of trades, too. I’ll do my best to offer some opinion, but a solid list of links will pick up where I left off and satisfy our hunger for seeing the Leafs roster evolve from the dogs breakfast into something at least comparable to Alphagetti with meatballs.

With the fifth pick in the 2012 draft, the Maple Leafs are proud to select…

Alright, if you check my twitter timeline on Friday night it’s very clear that I was more than a little upset that a skilled forward was not selected. I was listening to the draft on the radio while driving home from work, and the second that Griffin Reinhart was picked by the Islanders I assumed it was a foregone conclusion that we would see Filip Forsberg in a Leafs uniform. Am I still upset by this? Yes. Does this mean I think that Morgan Rielly is a crap prospect? Not at all.

I was able to take advantage of the fact that the Oil Kings had a Memorial Cup run this season, and as a result the Edmonton/Moose Jaw series was completely covered in my neck of the woods and I was able to take in the return of Rielly. Is he fast? Yes. Is he an offensive threat? Absolutely. Is he worthwhile in his own zone? Personally, I had a hard time judging because the Oil Kings just ran over the entire WHL down the stretch. Rielly was held goalless, and in his combined 94 WHL playoff and regular season games he only has 9 goals. Points mean very little in determining what a CHL defenseman will develop into, but it’s safe to assume that he’ll be more of a Phil Housley like offensive defenseman than a Paul Coffey type, with a bit more of a physical upside than both. I worry a little about how a puck carrying defenseman’s game will translate in to the AHL or NHL as it’s a much different situation playing against men than boys, but given the skill set of Rielly it’s not crazy to think that he has the potential to be a significant defender for the Leafs in a couple of years.

While I may still be pouting a little about not getting Forsberg or Grigorenko, I also feel a lot more comfortable in the Leafs organizations ability to develop defensemen rather than goaltenders or forwards, so it may be the best long term choice.

For a detailed look at Morgan Rielly, check out what Alec compiled about him.

Day Two…

I freely admit that at this point – I really don’t care much about any of the late picks. Ryan Rupert intrigues me a little, but until they are under a microscope it’s probably foolish for me to pretend I know a damn thing about any of them.

However, I did make a conscience effort to watch a Guelph Storm game if one became available to take a look at Garrett Sparks, and because of that I’ve seen a bit of Matt Finn. That, and we’ve all read enough pre-draft publications to know that this kid could have very well gone in the middle of the first round.

Personally, I’d already put Finn ahead of Percy on the organizations depth chart, and the job that Percy was drafted to do Finn will do better. Both Percy and Finn will join Gunnarsson as the common sense partners for offensively inclined players like Gardiner, Rielly, and Schultz (I hope.)

Finn is a two way guy without much of physical edge, and his offensive game isn’t going to be anything special, but I don’t doubt he could play a similar role to Gunnarsson on a second powerplay unit. In fact, almost everything about this guy reminds me of Gunnarsson which seems like an excellent pick up to me.

Gustavsson’s rights traded for about what you’d think his rights are worth.

I hate the Jets. I was an advocate for cutting Gustavsson loose. Ignoring those two facts I really hope Gustavsson actually succeeds if for no other reason than making it clear that a rigid, non-bending Francois Allaire butterfly system might not be the best approach to goaltending.

I don’t understand why the Jets felt that there would be so much competition for someone who at this point has had a pretty lousy career. (checks UFA goaltender list, oh crap, nevermind, in comparison Gus looks pretty good). If Gus signs there’s a 7th round pick in it for the Leafs next season, so there’s that as an upside. The downside is in a summer where Gustavsson’s UFA rights have value it’s terrifying what will be needed to acquire a proven goaltender.

“Someday Reemer, I’m gonna own a big sports bar.”

Cutting Luke Schenn loose is a fascinating turn of events, but something we all saw coming. I think the interest in James van Riemsdyk was also something that was fairly obvious to everyone.  This deal seemed to just be a matter of time for Holmgren and Burke to feel comfortable in drawing up the paperwork.

For me, the timing of the deal is enough to keep me engaged in the Burke era. Rational or not, I needed Burke to show up in Pittsburgh not only to draft, but make a trade that right or wrong shows the team won’t ice anything remotely close to the garbage we witnessed last season.

Now, I wasn’t thrilled about losing Schenn. I think he will establish himself nicely in the top four in Philadelphia, and I don’t doubt he’ll find a bit more of his offensive upside in time as well. He’s a player built for the tough matchups of the Atlantic division and I’m sure Malkin won’t be thrilled about the amount of time Schenn will spend shadowing him.

James van Riemsdyk from a current points standpoint adds more of the same that we already have with MacArthur and Lupul, but puts it in a bigger, more skilled package. While van Riemsdyk has the size please note that HE IS NOT A PHYSICAL PLAYER. He doesn’t shy away, but he is not going to be cracking heads on the way to net, and his penalty killing time was non-existent. He was generally given easy minutes on a protected Flyers second line, but much like Schenn this move is a chance to push him beyond his current accolades.

I am happily in the van Riemsdyk camp, and certainly there is now a good chance that the Leafs can continue to deal their excess defensemen, and also some of their wingers to address other holes in the lineup. I wouldn’t be shocked if two of Lupul, MacArthur, or Kadri are gone. I’ll assume that Kulemin and Frattin still fit the mold of the Carlyle/Burke era.

What next…

Nash? Luongo? Mystery Box? Personally, I was quite intrigued that Keith Yandle was made available. The dumping of salary hasn’t begun yet. Add to that: Paul Hendricks (Henny) has been hinting at another deal that is waiting to be announced. Burke was spotted having prolonged conversations with David Poile. Options like Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, David Legwand immediately come to mind. Nonis and Loiselle having talks with Wade Arnott, the agent for Justin Schultz (also, coincidentally Arnott is the agent for Bobby Ryan and Zach Parise), is a reason to be excited, especially with Loiselle being “the contract guy” for the Leafs. In fact, I’d say anytime Loiselle is tied to a conversation you can assume a deal has gone past initial talks and the Leafs are onto working out the logistics.

As I gaze into my crystal ball, I predict the Leafs will finally dump some of their dead weight this week and despite all the talk to the contrary I’d expect the goaltending situation to be resolved before Free Agency begins. And if I were to be more bold in my predictions, I’d suggest that the player Burke is trying to land might not be Roberto Luongo.

Now, your super terrific happy links:

We can add the CBA to the long list of things that Damo doesn’t understand. PPP as a public service schools Cox on why offer sheeting Cory Schneider is just plain stupid.

Cam Charron with his report on the JvR trade. Being a stats demi-god, Cam does an excellent job of highlighting van Riemsdyk’s possession skills. Something that Leafs were certainly lacking in.

Vintage Leafs Memories preaches patience with the draft prospects. First person to suggest Rielly plays with the Leafs next season gets a boat anchor to the back of the head.

Randy Carlyle wants to follow the Kings Plan. That’s fine. I just hope we stick with one model this time instead of changing it every six months. Also R.I.P. Bruins Plan, Ducks Plan, Truculence Plan, Plan 9 From Outer Space. Seriously, can we just get on the Pittsburgh Plan already?

A Link to More Links. NHL Numbers should be able to provide you with enough reading to completely blow off your Monday to-do list.

Out of the Fryer and into the Dutch Oven. Hope in the Big Smoke shares his thoughts on Schenn for van Riemsdyk.

Hope in the Big Smoke also weighs in on Rielly. The Moose Jaw Warriors fans still do the tomahawk chop at home games. That’s not related to this article at all, it’s just an annoying fact about the team Rielly plays for.

Fashion Bashin’. The lack of jersey debuts upset the Icethetics crew, and we were left with two lame patches as the only new designs. Also the draft hats sucked.

Down Goes Brown Brings the funny to the HHOF Candidates. My picks would be Sakic, Shanahan, a very biased Sundin pick and a long overdue Pat Burns pick.

The Toronto Sun mistakes size with truculence. In case you are also prone to this kind of confusion, here’s a friendly reminder that a guy who averages less than a hit per game, and has only been in one fight in his NHL career (he gets tossed by Randy Jones), is not truculent. On the upside, he’s a very good possession player which is some people think is a more important hockey skill than punching.

Lance Hornsby takes a look a Matt Finn. He’s a local boy?! Is that allowed? Thankfully JvR allows the Americanization narrative to continue for now.

The Leafs Nation Podcast is up. It includes Eric from Broad St. Hockey/NHL Numbers fame to talk about van Riemsdyk.