Tuesday, September 30, 2008

NHL may be dumping players in the KHL

A big hockey story over the summer was the creation of the Russian Continental League (KHL) and the growing fight over players. The most prominent dispute right now involves former Predator Alexander Radulov. The NHL has been hopping mad over the Radulov signing which I believe may not represent a trend. I still believe the KHL is most interested in repatriating Russian players and not necessarily competing with the NHL.

One trend being largely overlooked is that some NHL teams may use the KHL to dump players that are no longer interested in. We’ve already seen a number of players at the end of their career head overseas because no one showed interest in the NHL – John Grahame, Chris Simon, Wade Dubielewicz, Karel Pilar, Ray Emery, Jaromir Jagr. Not too many well known names. But as James Mirtle points out, the NHL is more than happy to get rid of the bad contracts that don't fit into their plans by sending them to the KHL. The New Jersey Devils sent Vitaly Vishnevski to play with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL. He was a defenceman for the Devils who signed a three year contract in 2007 at $1.8 million per year and did not fit into Devils plans. Devils do not pay any money for the buyout. This is another loophole in the salary cap discovered by Lou Lamoreillo.

The Calgary Flames would like to do the same. They have Marcus Nilson on their roster due to make $1 million this season. Calgary would like to get rid of him. They waived him but did not buy him out in June of this year. Nilson is attempting to catch on with the CSKA Moscow Red Army Team. If he does, Calgary will be able to get rid of his salary from their books entirely. Otherwise, he would have to be placed on an AHL team and they would have to pay him instead of letting the Russians do it.

Too bad the Maple Leafs couldn’t have gotten Andrew Raycroft to head over to Russia. It would have saved them a buyout.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Where will the Toronto Maple Leafs finish in the East this season?

Well the poll is closed and blog readers have spoken. A third of readers believe that the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs this season. Though I have to suspect a healthy number of these people are playing with us. Or they may just be delusional because 15% of voters picked them to finish first overall. Hey what can I say.

I consider the bottom 3 spots to be potential lottery picks for the right to draft John Tavares (who has 5 goals and 4 assists in his first 3 game with Oshawa this season). The worst 5 teams get a shot at Tavares and I expect 3 to come from the East. Well, over 50% of blog readers picked the Leafs to finish in the bottom 3.

Here are the results:

1st - 15.0%
2nd - 3.8%
3rd - 1.2%
4th - 2.5%
5th - 0%
6th - 0%
7th - 8.8%
8th - 3.8%
9th - 2.5%
10th - 3.8%
11th - 5.0%
12th - 3.8%
13th - 16.2%
14th - 7.5%
15th - 28.8%

John Tavares Report

John Tavares had two goals and an assist, all in the third period, as Oshawa fought back for a 6-4 win over Niagara in the Generals' OHL home opener Friday.

Goals by Tavares and Robert Kousal brought the Generals back from a 4-2 deficit and Kory Nagy scored the winner short-handed with 8:44 remaining.

Tavares added the clincher into an empty net, his fifth goal and ninth point in three games this season. Tavares has now been involved in 9 out of 13 goals scored by the Generals this season.

Oshawa to retire Bobby Orr's number

The Oshawa Generals announced that the No. 2 jersey worn by hockey great Bobby Orr will be officially retired and raised to the rafters at the General Motors Centre on Thursday, November 27.

Orr first came to Oshawa as a 14-year-old phenom for the 1962-63 season and starred with the Generals for four years, helping the Generals to capture the OHL championship in 1966.

Wow that took a long time to happen.

Friday, September 26, 2008

John Tavares Report

The Oshawa Generals won in overtime over the Niagara IceDogs. Their first win of the season. The offence was led once again by John Tavares, who scored his third goal of the season and also had an assist

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This touchdown celebration is just plain embarrassing

Erik Johnson's golf cart accident

Kyle Wellwood is still out of shape

As a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs the last three seasons, Kyle Wellwood was often criticized for his conditioning shortcomings. It was a chicken-and-egg kind of thing. What came first, injuries or the lack of fitness? He suffered a string of injuries all related to conditioning including three surgeries to repair sports hernias. limited Wellwood's playing time and effectiveness.

A real shame because he was a standout as a Junior and a terrific puck handler, As a 17-year-old, Wellwood scored 118 points for the Belleville Bulls. As a result the Leafs picked him in the sixth-round of the 2001 Amateur Draft.

Over the summer Cliff Fletcher put Wellwood on waivers, effectively saying that the Leafs had had enough of his soft approach to conditioning. It was clearly a wake-up call and in interviews Wellwood acknowledged that he had gotten the message. Many Toronto fans couldn't understand why the Leafs had given up on such a young player.

He was quite fortunate that the Vancouver Canucks were willing to give him a chance and picked him up and his $1 million contract.

On the weekend Canuck coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that although Wellwood's conditioning has improved since the team picked him up on waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs early this summer, it is "still not NHL caliber." Wellwood has pretty much been given a shape-up-or-ship-out ultimatum by the Canucks. He is going to be re-tested after the first four pre-season games and there has to be an improvement.

I wonder if Kyle will ever get it? He is about to jeopardize a job that pays in excess of $1 million for a half year of work. As a fan it drives me insane.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

NHL returns to Kansas City

It must drive Jim Balsillie crazy watching Gary Bettman work behind the scene to award Kansas City with a franchise. Kansas City is where the NHL failed and will fail once more if the NHL moves in.

Last night an announced crowd of 11,603 watched a Kings split squad defeat St. Louis 2-1 in the brand new $276 million Sprint Center. Although arena officials curtained off the upper deck in the south end of the 17,297-seat facility to condense the crowd.

Tim Leiweke, president of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which owns the Kings and manages the Sprint Center (yeah no conflict of interest here), says, “I can’t think of any reason this doesn’t work here”. “Kansas City has the best arena without a hockey team in the world”. That may be true but you also need hockey fans.

After Bettman came up with Boots Del Biaggio to save the Nashvillie franchise, I can't wait to see what he comes up with for Kansas City. Hopefully the new owner can stay out of jail for at least one season.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Maple Leafs' Fan First Game

was at tonight's Maple Leaf exhibition game which was unique in several ways. For one Coke picked up the tickets for the game which were free to almost 20,000 lucky fans. This was one of the most enthusiastic crowds I have ever seen at a Leaf. They could teach the suits something about how to behave (or misbehave) at sporting events.

The Leaf organization truly bent over backwards to reward their loyal fans. There were dozens of giveaways including one lucky guy several rows in front of me that won seasons tickets to the Leafs. Even the lame t-shirt toss was enhanced. Instead of Carlton the Bear mascot tossing the t-shirts, each corner of the rink had players not dressed for the game (Steen, Toskala, etc) doing the tossing. It was a lot of fun. At the start of the game when a camera panned the Leaf bench, I barely recognized a face.

As for the game. Well it was a sloppy high scoring exhibition game that was definitely entertaining. Any other exhibition I have attended had just painful to watch so it was a treat and surprise. Maybe it had to do with the fact that many regulars were out of the lineup and those dressed are hungry to play. Not dressed were Toskala, Kaberle, Kubina, Ponikarovsky, Antropov, Frogren, Steen, Mayers and Stralman.

I can tell you that a 4th line made up of Devereaux, Moore and Hollweg may be pretty effective. Devereaux and Moore's speed kept the Sabres busy while Hollweg hit everything in sight. Coloaiacovo looked sharp and used both the speed and physical game. Bell was also very physical and was crashing the Sabre net all night. Jason Blake did a good job killing penalties (and the Leafs took plenty of them tonight) which I don't recall him doing at all last season. I thought Fingers looked very steady. Van Ryan looked rusty but did a good job on the powerplay. Of the rookies, I thought John Mitchell was the most effective. Luke Schenn had a lot of ice time but seemed tentative. I barely noticed Kulemin when he was out there. Justin Pogge played the 2nd and 3rd period. He was solid in the 2nd but shaky in the 3rd. Tlusty was all over the ice and out of position as usual. The good news was there was a lot of speed out there and physical play.

The Leafs won 7-4 but I wouldn't expect offensive outbursts like this too often during the regular season. The Sabre goaltending and defense was AWOL all night. I listened to Andy Frost's show on 640 after the game. The Leaf fans calling in were giddy with excitement. Typical Leaf fans, many believe the team has already turned to corner and have a shot at a playoff spot. They may not have too many nights like this during the season so they might as well enjoy it.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ex-Leaf GM Ferguson hired by Sharks

John Ferguson Jr. was named Sunday night as director of pro scouting for the San Jose Sharks, the team his late father worked 11 years for prior to his passing in 2007.

It was just six months ago that Ferguson was sent packing after bludgeoning with free agents signings like Jason Blake, Bryan McCabe, Ed Belfour, Jason Allison, trading away draft picks and giving everyone but the valet parking attendants no trade contracts.

Swapping JFJ for Ron Wilson. I'll take that any day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

John Tavares Report

Despite a two-goal, four-point effort from John Tavares on the day before his 18th birthday, the Oshawa Generals couldn’t keep the puck out of their own net and lost 7-4 last night at their season opener.

What's so great about Brian Burke?

I am really puzzled by the Maple Leaf obsession with Brian Burke. He has had some success as a General Manager including a Stanley Cup but is he really the best candidate out of those willing to manage the Leafs? We won't ever know since the list of interested candidates (assuming there ever was a list) will never be made public.

Once again Brian Burke is struggling to get his team under the salary cap. He needs to lose a minimum of $2 million but he has needs a couple million more to sign Teemu Selanne. Burke placed Mathieu Schneider and his $5.65 million salary on waivers and no one grabbed him. He is now stuck trying to find a trading partner and will likely have to sweeten the pot by offering a draft pick. So that alone will make him qualified to manage the Leafs.

Last season he was in the same boat and put Ilya Bryzgalov on waivers and traded away a great young player Andy McDonald so he could re-sign Scott Neidermayer and Teemu Salanne. And lets not forget he signed Todd Bertuzzi to a ridiculous sum of money ($4 million) and then bought him out at a cap hit of $1.33 million for 2 years. Should fit in just fine as Leaf GM.

Oh and how does Brian Burke do at the draft table? His first 2 years drafting for the Canucks produced no one who played at the NHL level. In 2001, he used his first round draft pick to land R. J. Umberger who he then traded for Martin Rucinsky. No one else drafted that year played in the NHL. In 2002 he traded his first round pick to bring back Trevor Linden to the Canucks. His last draft with Vancouver (2003) he drafted Ryan Kessler 23rd overall but 24th pick was Mike Richards and the 28th was Cory Perry. Please don't ask about his other picks that year. The Canucks are still struggling as a result of Burke's drafting. Welcome to MLSE Brian!

I'm not suggesting that Brian Burke is incompetent. But he is not in the same class as the elite GMs like Ken Holland and Lou Lamoiello. He may not even be as good as Darcy Regier who just signed a contract extension with Buffalo. But the morons in MLSE have annoited him as their savior and will bestow him with riches. Just add Burke to the list of overpaid personnel down at the ACC Cashbox.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mats Sundin Update

Few open spots as Maple Leaf training camps starts

Well the Maple Leaf training camp officially begins tomorrow although from the media coverage you would have thought camp had been operating for weeks. The usual optimism flowing from Leaf Nation is absent except by the most loyal disciples (you know, the ones who would drink the purple koolaid). The team has no big stars and only one all-star player.

In most years there is no real competition for spots on the roster. All but one or two spots are spoken for well before training camp starts. To be honest, if a team had more openings than that, you have to question how competitive they will be. Since the Leafs are in transition, there may be a few more spots open but not as many as you would think.


Although Cliff Fletcher suggested there is only 1 forward who could be considered a top 6 forward (Antropov), out of the 36 forwards in camp, 17 have NHL experience. One rookie, Nikolai Kulemin is guaranteed a spot. He wasn’t even asked to attend the rookie camp. Now out of the 17 with NHL experience, 4 forwards have very limited experience and several will have to start the season on the Marlies – Grabovski, Ondrus, Newbury and Tlusty. So unless a veteran or two get moved or demoted, other rookies such as Darryl Boyce, Robbie Earl, and John Mitchell don’t really stand much of a chance.

So possible forward lines are:

Ponikarovsky – Antropov – Blake
Hagman – Steen - Kulemin
Bell – Stajan – Mayers
Hollweg – Moore – Devereaux

Spares – Tlusty, Grabovksi


There are 8 defensemen with NHL experience and only room for 6 players plus a spare. Two rookies have a shot but Schenn is more than likely to return for another year of Junior hockey where he will be able to log a lot more ice time. The other rookie is 28-year old Swedish defenseman Jonas Frogren. If one of the two makes the starting roster then 2 other players will either be moved or demoted. Contracts dictate that Kaberle, Kubina and Finger have spots locked up. Colaiacovo will make the team if he can stay healthy until October. I also think that Stralman is a lock on a spot based how rapidly he has progressed. That leaves the rookies competing with White, Van Ryn, and Kronwall for 2 spots at best. Ian White will need to have a strong camp because Fletcher’s comments about him have not been encouraging. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in a Panther jersey in the near future.

So possible defense combinations are:

Kaberle – Kubina
Finger – Stralman
Colaiacovo – Van Ryn

Spare: Frogren


The goaltending is set. Toskala will be playing the bulk of games with Joseph as the backup. In fact the Marlies are set as well with Pogge as the #1 goalie and James Reimer as the back up.

Anyone who thinks you can succeed with this lineup is looking at the world with “blue and white” glasses. The Leafs have not begun to rebuild yet. They are still in the tearing down stage. Some of these players have been brought in to fill uniforms and tease the crowds filling the platinum seats. We can expect another waive of trades for draft picks and prospects in the winter and this time “no movement” contracts will not be a factor.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Top 5 NHL rookies this season

The NHL season is expected to produce an excellent crop of rookies in particular because the 2008 draft was so deep. Though most 2008 draft picks will return to Junior hockey. I’ve come up with my list of the top 5.

1. Kyle Turris (Phoenix)

Turis is a centre who was drafted 3rd overall in 2007. Anyone who saw him play at the World Junior Championships will know this kid can skate. He is being compared to Joe Sakic and will be competing for the Calder Cup. He will be given a shot at 2nd or 3rd line centre.

2. Steve Stamkos (Tampa Bay)

Everyone has been waiting to see this kid play in the NHL after going first overall in the 2008 draft. He is a great skater but needs to work on his strength in order to be competitive at the NHL level. However, Tampa Bay has a lot of veteran wingers who can be matched with him and can help his development.

3. Kyle Okposo (NY Islanders)

This is the franchise player the Islanders have been waiting for and since Mike Millbury is no longer around, it’s unlikely he will be traded away. The right winger was drafted 7th overall in 2006. He played in 9 games for the Islanders and recorded 5 points but more importantly he looked really looked terrific. He will score if he lands on a line with Mike Comrie or Doug Weight.

4. Ville Leino (Detroit)

To me, the coup of the offseason was the free agent signing of Leino who is a left winger out of Finland. He is turning 25 so old for a rookie but he was a big scorer in Finland and will easily fit into the Detroit lineup. He may even play in one of the top two lines. While everyone was chasing after Fabian Brunnstrom who may turn out to be over-hyped, the Red Wings quietly signed Leino who I think is a better prospect.

5. Drew Doughty (Los Angeles)

If Doughty sticks with the Kings, he could end up with the Calder. The 2nd overall pick in the 2008 draft was the most talented defenseman in a draft deep in defensemen. He is physically big and mature which means he could jump up to the NHL as an 18 year old. He anchored Canada’s Junior team at the World Championships earlier this year.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Late comeback gives Storm 2nd exhibition win

The Storm scored two goals just 23 seconds apart late in the 3rd period to grab a win away from Markham-Stouffville. The game was scoreless until early in the 3rd period when a long shift led to a bad line change. The defense was badly outnumbered and by the time fresh forwards had gotten into the Storm end of the ice, the puck was in the net.

With two minutes to play, Asia was pulled for an extra skater and the Storm had Markham pinned in their own end. After several good scoring chances Mari was able to put one behind the Markham goalie to tie the score. That was with 1:10 remaining in the game. Off the faceoff, the puck went into Markham corner where Sheri was able to dig it out and feed Jackie who wired the puck into the top corner with just 47 seconds remaining. Again off the faceoff, the puck went into the Markham where Sheri and Jackie ate up much of the remaining time cycling the puck.

There were several good scroring chances in the 2nd period including Gabby who rang one off the post and Sheri who was robbed by an excellent pad save. The shots on net were 19-11 in favour of the Storm. And the team was much improved on faceoffs. Where on Sunday the Storm lost all but one faceoff, tonight the teams each won 11 and lost 11.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Bulgarian hockey players are like pylons

There is some video of that 82-0 game between Slovakia and Bulgaria. I'm thinking our Midget B team could beat them. There are only about 35 women hockey players in Bulgaria and they don't look so good.

Storm wins first exhibition game

It's been 155 days since the Midget B team played its last hockey game and 159 days since the team won its last game. So it was nice to play together again even if it was an exhibition game. There were some new faces in the lineup and they did just fine. Newcomers include Maddy from Etobicoke, Gabby from Vaughan, Asia from the Midget BB team, and Alicia and Allie from the Bantam B team and Madeleine from Storm house league. And also welcome to our new manager John.

As far as the game, the Storm shutout the Missisauga Chiefs 2-0. The game was scoreless for two periods and goalies on both sides played well. You could see the rust on both teams with a lot of missed passes and winded players. The shots on net were even 18 per team but one area the Storm will need to work on is faceoffs. The Chiefs won 17 out of 18 faceoffs today.

The third period was the Storm's strongest and produced the best scoring chances and the only two goals. Early in the period Maddy banged in a rebound off a shot from Mari. There were two breakaways later in the period. Kailee was fed a pass behind the Mississauga defense and fired a shot from 20 feet out only to miss the net. Later on a Mississuaga defenseman fell leaving Sheri with no one between her and the goalie. She deked the goalie but the puck was bouncing and bounced off her stick past the open corner of the net. The final goal was scored by Jackie on an empty net with 14 seconds remaining.

Kudos to Madeleine and Alicia who showed a lot of hustle and speed for their first games as Midgets, Bianca and Asia were solid in net and shared the shutout.

Next exhibition game is against Markham-Stouffville this Tuesday.

Mats Sundin Update

Five NHL teams to watch this season

1. Tampa Bay Lightning
Zany new owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have changed everything in Tampa Bay, the GM, coaches, the players, likely even parking attendants. They even took a run at signing Mats Sundin. Tampa Bay started early by trading for Ryan Malone and Gary Roberts on June 30 and signing them to contracts before they became free agents the next day. When it was all over they had committed to $200 million in contracts. How will it work out? Who knows. They are still weak in net and defense but I doubt they are standing pat with the current lineup. It will be fun to watch this bunch.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins lost quite a few players to free agency with the most significant being Marian Hossa. But any team that has both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is going to be dangerous and explosive. Young Jordan Staal is another potential superstar that could break out this year and he's only turning 20. The Penguins have picked up some secondary scoring in Satan and Sykora. They also are solid in net with Marc-Andre Fleury. This team has Stanley Cup potential.

3. San Jose Sharks
Every year the Sharks have been identified as a possible Cup finalist but seem to always fall short. This year may be different. The Sharks have always managed to stay well below the salary cap (last year they were at $40 million). But not this year. The Sharks went on a spending spree and picked up Rob Blake and Dan Boyle and their payroll jumped to $56 million. They still may try to trade Patrick Marleau but the owners are committed to winning and are willing to spend the money,

4. Montreal Canadiens
It's the Canadiens 100th anniversary and the usually rabid fans are already in a frenzy. They bagged the amateur draft and the all star game, will retire Patrick Roy's number, and are trying to organize an outdoor game at the Olympic Stadium. But none of this will matter if they don't win the Cup. Bob Gainey tried his best to convince Sundin to sign with Montreal but last week gave up waiting and traded for Robert Lang. Montreal has a young and explosive offense but they have a lot of question marks. Can Carey Price carry the team deep in the playoffs? Is the defense good enough? Which Alexi Kovalev will show up this year - the passionate, creative scorer or the moody floater?

5. Chicago Blackhawks
This team has a lot of young talent just starting to come together. What team wouldn't want to have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith, Cam Barker and Brent Seabrook? If you haven't heard of them all you will soon. They also signed free agents Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet to solidify their back end. Chicago hasn't made the playoffs in 9 season but they streak is going to end soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Highest NHL Salaries

The following are the 10 top paid NHL players for the 2008-09 season. It doesn't including players signed to contract extensions that don't kick until the 2009-10 season (Lacavalier, Eric Staal). The cap hit is indicated in brackets.

1. Dany Heatley $10.0 (7.0)
2. Alex Ovechkin $9.0 ($9,538)
__Sidney Crosby $9.0 ($8.7)
4. Timmo Timonem $8.0 ($6.333)
__Daniel Briere $8.0 ($6.5)
__Tomas Vanek $8.0 ($7.143)
__Jason Spezza $8.0 ($7.0)
__Scott Gomez $8.0 ($7.357)
9. Brad Richards $7.8 ($7.8)
10. Henrik Lundqvist $7.75 ($6.875)

Rangers, Senators and Flyers each have 2 players in the top 10. Red Wings have none.

Mats Sundin Update

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

82-0, now that's a blowout

So you think you've been in some bad losses.

At a women's Olympic pre-qualifying hockey tournament, Slovakia beat Bulgaria by a score of 82-0. That was in one game not a best 4 out of 7 series. Bulgaria was outshot 139-0, yup they didn't get a single shot on net. So the Bulgarian goalie's save percentage was just 41.1% Makes Andrew Raycroft look like an all-star. Actually Bulgaria switched goalies with 3 minutes remaining. The back up let in the last 5 goals. Top scorer was Janka Culikova with 10 goals.

It was 19-0 after just 10 minutes. The Bulgarian women also lost 30-1 to Croatia and 41-0 to Italy. The goal scored against Croatia was their only shot on net. Begging the question, what are they doing in the tournament?

Reaction from the Bulgarian Hockey Federation: "What the Slovaks did to us was kind-of an insulting mockery, and is not at all sportsmanlike". Sure blame the other team. There are 33 countries ranked in women's hockey with Slovakia ranked only 17th and Croatia 30th. Bulgaria is a new entry so I'm guessing they will be ranked 34 out of 34.

Deadspin suggests there should be a 60 goal mercy rule.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Maple Leaf jersey numbers for 2008-09

Pavel Kubina has handed over 31 to Curtis Joseph and taken 77 (first Leaf to wear the number) which is his year of birth. Here are all the player numbers:

31. Curtis Joseph, G.

35. Vesa Toskala, G.

4. Jeff Finger, D.

7. Ian White, D.

8. Carlo Colaiacovo, D.

9. Mark Bell, F.

10. Alex Steen, F.

11. Jiri Tlusty, F.

14. Matt Stajan, F.

15. Tomas Kaberle, D.

16. Niklas Hagman, F.

19. Dominic Moore, F.

21. Jamal Mayers, F.

22. Boyd Devereaux, F.

23. Alexei Ponikarovsky, F.

24. Jonas Frogren, D.

26. Mike Van Ryn, D.

36. Anton Stralman, D.

41. Nikolai Kulemin, F.

44. Ryan Hollweg, F.

48. Jeremy Williams, F.

55. Jason Blake, F.

77. Pavel Kubina, D.

80. Nik Antropov, F.

84. Mikhail Grabovski, F.

Toronto Film Festival charity hockey game

Some of the stars who came out to play last night. I think you all remember Mats Sundin.

Here is Mats with a former linemate Gary Roberts.

Actor Timothy Robbins with Canadian national team member Jennifer Botterill.

Robbins with RIM CEO Jim Balsillie (still looking for an NHL team no doubt).

Robbins with director Jason Reitman.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

What will Mats Sundin be doing?

You won't find Mats in Toronto. And you won't find him in Stockholm either.

Try Barcelona because it turns out that Mats is one of its international celebrity ambassadors for PokerStars. You'll soon see him both online at PokerStars under the name “MatsSundin”.

Very upsetting

I'm convinced Friday will be Sundin's last game in Toronto

Thank you Mats!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Cliff Fletcher is actually doing his job

The Star (Damien Cox to be more precise) has accused the Maple Leafs of terrible asset management. Cox suggests that the McCabe deal is terrible. Many people may be agreeing with him. Afterall, the Leafs have literally sent the following players packing with virtually nothing to show for them: Belfour, Domi, Tucker,Wellwood, and Raycroft. The trades involving McCabe, Gill, Kilger, and Belak involved at least some exchange of assets coming back to Toronto. But none of these moves brought the Leafs much back of value.

Then all the moves in the summer involved a transfer of draft picks for marginal talents (eg.,2nd for Garbovski, 3rd for Mayers, 5th for Hollweg). Here is a summary of draft pick transfers:

1st round: none

2nd round: + (Gill) - (Schenn) - (Garbovski) = -1

3rd round: + (Kilger) - (Schenn) - (Mayers) = -1

4th round: - (Van Ryn) = -1

5th round: + (Belak) + (Gill) - (Hollweg) = +1

Essentially they are down two picks right now which at this point this is'n consequential since there is no draft in September. The draft takes place in June and the Leafs will be sellers next February so the pick count will change. Sure they haven't acquired any 1st round picks but with few valuable assets and loads of no-trade contracts, those types of trades just weren't going to happen.

This team should have some real difficulty scoring goals. It's a toss up who will be their leading scorer but that player will likely have only 60 points or so. But the Leafs will be far more physical and they will play hard. There will likely be no more mailed in efforts. That is already progress.

Cliff Fletcher wasn't hired to rebuild the Leafs. He is an interim manager who was hired to clean out the malcontents and make salary cap space. He has done that and likely not finished. I would have been happy to see the rebuilding start this year rather than wait a year. But as long as it is accomplished, the team becomes competitive, then I can be patient.

Monday, September 01, 2008