The Leafs made a minor league deal last night, sending Andrew Crescenzi to the LA Kings affiliate in Manchester in exchange for Brandon Kozun. Crescenzi was an undrafted rookie camp invitee who brought size and had played well enough to earn a contract with the organization, but he was a low-scoring defensively oriented centre. Kozun is a smaller offensively inclined winger, that will – worst case scenario – improve a Marlies attack with just two forwards on the roster with ten goals. Hard to declare a deal of this magnitude a win, but it also provides some SPC flexibility at the end of the year when Kozun’s contract expires.

As far as the big club goes, things are clicking along as well as they have been in a long time. The top line is producing, some secondary offence is coming from the other forwards and also the back end, while Bernier and Reimer are providing a good chance for the team to win when they aren’t stealing games outright. Pretty well every team below the Leafs in the wildcard race won last night, but if your eyes are set on a higher prize, the Habs lost one of their games in hand – handily, to the Penguins – and the two teams still sit tied on 59 points.

We’re now within 30 games of the end of the season and each game will start to feel a little more important and the points more desperately needed. Can the Leafs match fellow surging wildcard team in the East, Columbus, and make it seven in a row?

Some Leafs links to fill the gap between now and game time tonight:

Leafs acquire Brandon Kozun

How excited should we be about Connor Brown’s crazy good OHL numbers? Some historical context from Michael Stephens.

Mirtle at the Globe has an article about the surging Eastern Conference and what it means for the playoff picture

An article from Wednesday about the Leafs and their 6 game winning streak, first of its kind in Toronto since 2006

Traikos at the Post has an article about the Leafs goaltending situation and Nonis’ comments on the subject this week

James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel’s Leaf Report Podcast from yesterday

Michael Langlois’ Leaf podcast from yesterday. 

Let’s all laugh at the Oilers. That press conference of embarrassing comments from MacT and Lowe is priceless.

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