Itâ€™s another slow weekend in Leafs land. Maybe not as slow as last week, as the Friday signing of Morgan Rielly is actual, factual news, but other than the decision to sign him now rather than wait for what the next CBA will hold in regards to Entry Level Contracts, there really isnâ€™t much analysis required.
The Leafs also bulked up their Alumni roster for the Winter Classic, as Vincent Damphousse, Russ Courtnall, Gary Leeman, Bill Derlago, Dave Ellett and Bob McGill signed up. The highlight of this being that the whole hound line is now on board. Assuming that Sundin and Domi are in fact on board that levels Borje Salming as the last major holdout for the Leafs.
Unfortunately this is all we will likely get for news over the course of August, during Burkeâ€™s time in Toronto the only notable move he completed in August was the Clarke MacArthur signing. That doesnâ€™t mean that nothing will happen, but itâ€™s probably a time to divorce yourself from twitter insiders who are constantly reporting possible Leafs trades. With Burke at the Olympics this week it doesnâ€™t mean that heâ€™s not taking calls or there isnâ€™t someone back in the office with something on the go, but signs are pointing to this being summer vacation time.
The one area that must still be weighing on Burkeâ€™s mind is the goaltending situation, and recently Justin Goldman of the Goaltenders Guild had this to say about the Leafs depth:
â€œI have been saying it on a daily basis since last November, and I seriously canâ€™t take it anymore. I canâ€™t scream it any louder, and I canâ€™t be any more blunt than this;Â the Leafs desperately need a veteran presence!! Inexperienced prospects likeÂ James ReimerÂ andÂ Ben ScrivensÂ canâ€™t manage the extreme pressure that goalies face in a market like Toronto, and no matter how good of a goalie coach Francois Allaire is, heâ€™s not capable of leading by example.â€
You can check out the rest of Justinâ€™s thoughts here. When looking at the Eastern Conference depth charts it looks like Florida may be the only team in a position to deal a goaltender, especially if they acquire Luongo, but teams like Washington, Winnipeg, Tampa, Islanders, and to some extent Boston all have question marks around their number one goaltender situation.
Looking at Justinâ€™s thoughts on the Western Conference it seems that Minnesota may be a team to look at for a potential trade as they seem to have a strong pipeline with Harding, Gustafsson, and Hackett behind Backstrom. Bernier, and Luongo are already publically available but itâ€™s safe to say that Backstrom could be in play as well, not to mention if Chicago acquires a new goaltender either Corey Crawford or Ray Emery could be made available. While much like Bernier, Crawford may not be an upgrade over Scrivens Iâ€™d like to see one of them added for depth. Signing Scrivens to a deal around $2 million a season and returning him to the Marlies would probably be enough of a cap hit to scare off teams that would potentially claim him off of waivers.
One goaltender who I donâ€™t buy as being on the market and seems to be floating around the rumour mill a lot lately is Mikka Kiprusoff. I think itâ€™s a safe bet that a team that is willing pay north of five million dollars a season for Dennis Wideman isnâ€™t interested in removing the one person capable of covering up the numerous mistakes that Wideman will surely make. This seems similar to the garbage rumour that Kari Lehtonen is available. Itâ€™s hard to believe the Stars are loading up on retirement age talent at the same time they are going to strip mine a core position.
Pointless speculation aside, weâ€™re in for a quiet month in Leafs land, and the CBA negotiations will surely make transactions few and far between. On the upside, weâ€™ll at least have the Ivan Hlinka Under 18 Tournament, and the Canada Russia Challenge to look forward to in the next few weeks. Morgan Rielly will be competing at the Canada Russia Challenge, and somewhere on this under-18 roster is a future Leaf in the 2013 draft. My favourite for the 2013 draft is Curtis Lazar given my WHL bias.
Here are a few more links…
Puck Daddy takes look at the Locomotiv Memorial Game
Over $40k raised for youth hockey from this event that featured some of the best known players in the world.
Top 25 under 25: #21 Tyler Biggs
This post is a couple of days old, but I really enjoyed it so Iâ€™m going to link to it. I think it does an excellent job of capturing the different points of view on the polarizing prospect. For me personally, I think it was foolish to trade two high picks for him, but now that heâ€™s Leafs property Iâ€™ve got no problem with a physical third liner with some untapped offensive upside in the system. At this point anyone comparing him to Dustin Brown or Milan Lucic is completely out to lunch though. Most of the time no good comes from making comparisons to the best players of that certain skill set.
NHL.com builds a 16 man roster out of the best statistical seasons of all time
Surprise, surprise, the best offensive seasons all came from 80s and early 90s (save for Bobby Orr) and the best goaltending seasons are from the era of giant pads. I still think this team would lose because Kevin Stevens would throw games for crack money.
It looks like Michael at Vintage Leaf Memories is anxious for something to happen
Of course the CBA is a huge factor in this and the Leafs will want some flexibility when the new agreement starts up, but at the same time the Leafs need to make a bold move and there is something to be said for getting out in front of the new CBA.