Monday, September 14, 2009
Battle at the Mastercard Center
The Toronto Maple Leafs are in full swing as the battle begins at the Mastercard Center to crack the Maple Leafs 23 man roster. The Leafs have a few spots open but as per Brian Burke and coach Ron Wilson their are plenty of spots open on the roster and almost no ones job is safe. Burke has gone out on a limb and said that he would have no problem sending millions of dollars in salaries to the AHL Marlies. We decide to take a look at the Leafs current camp and where the major battles are to make the roster.
The back up goalie spot is up for grabs between Swedish rookie Johan Gustavsson and Joey McDonald. The Monster as Gustavsson is known in Europe looks to have the inside track on the spot but he can also go down to the Marlies without clearing waivers and 60+ game starts in the AHL wouldnt hurt.
Verdict: Joey McDonald starts the year as Leafs backup with Gustavsson minding the net for the Marlies.
The Leafs look to have the 1-4 spots set in Kaberle, Komisarek, Schenn and Beauchemin and the battle will be for spots 5-7 or possibly 8. The Leafs have Exelby, White, Frogren, Finger, Van Ryn and Oreskovic battling for those last spots and a very short margin for error, look for the Leafs to make a move on the trade front in this department.
Verdict: Exelby, White, Van Ryn and Finger as the Leafs go with 8 on the backend to start the season knowing White can play up front as well.
The Leafs look to feature a few rookies on the roster after camp concludes but look for some of the fiercest camp battles to take place here. Grabovski, Ponikarovsky, Hagman, Blake, Mitchell, Stajan and Orr look set on the roster but that still leaves 6 spots to battle for with the main contention taking place between, Stempniak, Kulemin, Primeau, Mayers, Hanson, Bozak, Kadri, Tlusty, Allison, and Stalberg.
Verdict: Look for Jason Allison to earn a spot on the top six basically our best forward if he has his game, Kulemin, Primeau, Stempniak, Mayers and Bozak round out the roster.
Who to watch for Surprises
Victor Stalberg- The 23 year is a strong skater and a little bit older and wiser then some of the younger Leafs, was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award and took his college squad to the NCAA final four.
Jiri Tlusty- The 1st rounder had a great second half of the season with the AHL Marlies finished just under a point a game player.
Jesse Blacker- Long shot to make the squad but was impressive at the rookie camp and looks like a steady defensemen of the future.