Wednesday, September 30, 2009
The Toronto Maple Leafs have narrowed their roster to 22 men one under the limit of 23 as they prepare to take on the Montreal Canadiens in their season opener Thursday night. The Leafs look to have the roster spot open for Mike Van Ryn who along with Phil Kessel will start on the injury list and do not count as a spot on the roster. The Leafs did not surprise many by sending down Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarsson, Joey MacDonald and Jiri Tlusty to the Toronto Marlies but some may be a tad surprised that last seasons 15 goal scorer Nikolai Kulemin was also sent down to the Marlies over some other players. The Maple Leafs opening day roster looks like this.
Monday, September 28, 2009
After reading many previews on the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight and watching some videos on sports sites I've decided to write another blog tonight with 30 predictions for the 2009-10 season, also on an inspirational note I would just like to congratulate Theo Fleury for a great story its just to bad he couldnt have taken it a bit further all the best to him as he continues his recovery.
30 Toronto Maple Leafs 2009-10 Predictions
30- Jonas Gustavsson plays in 35+ games this season
29- Colton Orr is involved in 15+ fights
28- The Maple Leafs move into the Top 15 on the penalty kill
27- Rickard Wallin leads Leafs in short handed markers
26- The Leafs finish with a winning record in shootouts for the first time
25- Carl Gunnarsson plays first NHL game
24- Brian Burke blasts the media
23- Tyle Bozak plays in at least 25+ games
22- Jason Blake and Alexei Ponikarovsky score 15+ goals
21- The Leafs goaltenders record 5+ shutouts
20- The Leafs score 8+ goals in one game
19- Lee Stempniak scores 20+ goals
18- John Mitchell gets first career hat trick
17- Luke Schenn leads the Leafs in hits
16- Mikhail Grabovski earns 65+ points
15- Niklas Hagman and Tomas Kaberle make All Star Game
14- Victor Stalberg scores 20+ goals
13- Victor Stalberg finishes in the Top 5 in rookie scoring
12- Francois Beauchemin scores 10+ goals to lead team defense
11- Phil Kessel plays center for the Leafs
10- Niklas Hagman leads Leafs with 3 hat trick games
9- Tomas Kaberle returns to the Top 10 of Defensemen scoring
8- Mike Komisarek is in the Top 5 in blocked shots
7- The Leafs win season series over Montreal
6- Niklas Hagman earns 70+ points and leads Leafs in scoring
5- Niklas Hagman scores 35+ goals
4- Mike Komisarek drops the gloves with Milan Lucic 3x
3- Lee Stempniak leads the Leafs in game winners and finishes in Top 5 in league
2- Francois Beauchemin named Team Captain
1- The Toronto Maple Leafs make a return to the NHL Playoffs
The Toronto Maple Leafs continue to trim down their roster to the 23 man limit for Wednesday but no matter what Brian Burke and Ron Wilson look to do, the Maple Leafs are definitely weak down the middle. The Maple Leafs best center during the pre-season was 2009 1st round pick Nazem Kadri but he has been sent back to OHL as he should be, some would say that the second best center in camp was rookie Tyler Bozak who looks to be on his way to the AHL Marlies which leaves the Maple Leafs with Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Stajan, John Mitchell, Rickard Wallin and Wayne Primeau. These players do not place much fear into opposing teams, while Grabovski holds promise and Mitchell could bring his game up to another level, he looks to be opening the season as a winger. Stajan who is coming off a career year of 55 points would be nothing more then a third or fourth line center on most teams and Wallin and Primeau do not look like nothing more then journeymen NHLers. The Maple Leafs will be harder working team this season, they will also be a tougher team and have one of the better defense in the conference but lack that middleman. This over the years will not be the case with Kadri and Bozak waiting in the wings but at the moment the Leafs lack a true number one centermen but this could change come November if they decide to switch Phil Kessel back to his natural position. Kessel would be a huge upgrade at the center position and would move back the centers to more suitable roles with Grabovski dropping to number 2, Stajan to number 3 and Wallin or Primeau as the number 4. This Leaf fans could be a short term solution to the Maple Leafs center blues but wouldnt it be great to see Kessel centering Stalberg and Hagman when he is ready to get back in action? This Leaf fans is something i would definitely look forward to.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The time has come for the Toronto Maple Leafs to send Nazem Kadri back to the OHL's London Knights. Nazem Kadri has shown Maple Leaf fans that he was well worth the selection made by Brian Burke this past draft, he is a smart player with great speed and a great hockey sense and I'm sure many fans are excited thinking of this kid playing with Phil Kessel for many years to come, down the road but that time is not now. Kadri is only 18 years old and the Leafs need not rush the youngster to the show, if he has a down side, it is that Kadri is too light and is easily muscled off the puck. The youngster will need to add a few pounds to his frame over the next couple of seasons and Leaf fans should note that when the real NHL season starts and teams play their regulars and coaches start to bring in their game strategies they will quickly learn what Kadri's weakness is and use this to their advantage. The fact many of us have played hockey we know how important confidence is in the game and with a camp like Kadri has had there is no reason he should not get over 100+ points in the OHL and make the Canadian World Junior Squad. These accomplishments will garner further confidence for the youngster and dont think for a second that coach Ron Wilson will not send Kadri on his way with what he needs to do to continue on the path to Leafland. Nazem Kadri is something special but with Tyler Bozak and Victor Stalberg looking ready to make the jump as an NHL regular their is no need to rush the kid. We all know that in most cases this has not always worked out for the best in Leafland.
Monday, September 21, 2009
The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken their first steps in moving forward towards their goal of a 23 man opening day roster. Coach Ron Wilson has trimmed down the camp roster to 44 with more cuts expected this week. The Leafs have sent Andrew Engelage, James Reimer, Josh Engel, Joe Ryan, Juraj Mikus, Phil Oreskovic, Todd Perry, Kyle Rogers, Gregg Scott, Robert Slaney, Mikhail Stefanovich, Alex Berry, Darryl Boyce, Tom Galvin, Dale Mitchell, Stefano Giliati and Richard Greenop to their AHL Toronto Marlies. Jesse Blacker, Brandon Manning and Joel Champagne were sent to their respective junior clubs, while Bill Thomas and Juha Uotila were released from their pro tryout contracts.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Brian Burke has finally landed his most coveted off season acquisition landing Boston Bruins scorer Phil Kessel. The Leafs GM has been chasing Kessel since the draft back in June and after numerous attempts to convince Boston GM to part with the 36 goal winger, Burke's offer was too hard to refuse. The Leafs give Boston 2 first round picks 2010, 2011 and a second round pick in 2010 to get Kessel, with this seasons draft being assessed as a rather weak one and Burke's desire to get the Leafs back into the playoff picture sooner rather then later, this was too good of a deal to pass up on. The Leafs GM then quickly signed the 21 year old to a 5 year contract worth 27.5 million dollars a cap hit of 5.5 million per season. Coach Ron Wilson will have to put a hold on where he will pencil Kessel in on the Maple Leafs roster as Kessel is out until at least mid November with a torn rotater cuff injury after having surgery. Brian Burke is slowly putting his stamp on this Maple Leafs team and Leaf fans myself included can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve next.
Monday, September 14, 2009
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.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
The Toronto Maple Leafs are ready to kick off training camp for the 2009-10 season with medicals today at the clubs new Mastercard Centre with on ice activities taking place tomorrow with their first preseason game kicking off on the 16th. The Maple Leafs training camp roster looks like this.
29 Joey MacDonald
34 James Reimer
35 Vesa Toskala
50 Jonas Gustavsson
71 Beau Erickson
72 Andrew Engelage
2 Luke Schenn
3 Garnet Exelby
4 Jeff Finger
7 Ian White
8 Mike Komisarek
15 Tomas Kaberle
22 Francois Beauchemin
24 Jonas Frogren
26 Mike Van Ryn
36 Carl Gunnarsson
40 Phil Oreskovic
59 Todd Perry
60 Juraj Mikus
62 Joe Ryan
63 Josh Engel
66 Andy Rogers
69 Barron Smith
70 Jesse Blacker
78 Brandon Manning
9 Niklas Hagman
11 Jiri Tlusty
12 Lee Stempniak
14 Matt Stajan
18 Wayne Primeau
20 Christian Hanson
21 Jamal Mayers
23 Alexei Ponikarovsky
25 Ben Ondrus
28 Colton Orr
32 Alex Foster
33 Jason Allison
37 Tim Brent
38 Jay Rosenhill
39 John Mitchell
41 Nikolai Kulemin
42 Tyler Bozak
43 Nazem Kadri
44 Kyle Rogers
45 Victor Stalberg
46 Dale Mitchell
47 Darryl Boyce
48 Ryan Hamilton
49 Stefano Giliati
51 Rickard Wallin
52 Greg Scott
53 Alex Berry
55 Jason Blake
56 Andre Deveaux
57 Robert Slaney
58 Mikhail Stefanovich
64 Richard Greenop
67 Jamie Devane
68 Joel Champagne
76 John Kurtz
84 Mikhail Grabovski
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Brian Burke made a very interesting move over the weekend when he acquired the Maple Leafs second round pick for the 2010 draft from the Chicago Blackhawks for the Leafs second round and third round picks for the 2011 draft. This move allows the Leafs to be players if they decide to go out and sign a high priced restricted free agent as the compensation if the team does not match the Leafs offer sheet would be the teams first, second and third rounders from the 2010 draft. The two players being talked about out there are the Bruins Phil Kessel and the Rangers Brandon Dubinsky. Phil Kessel registered 60 points with 36 goals while Brandon Dubinsky registered 41 points with 13 goals on paper this looks like a no brainer for Kessel but Dubinsky fits more the mold of what Brian Burke is looking for with the team and thats a player with some sandpaper. In the end should Burke offer an offer sheet to one of these players i think not, why would he do such a thing when the Leafs could be just toying with both Chiarelli and Sather looking to make a deal with two teams that are close to the cap and are having a tough time fitting these players requested salaries into their team payroll. The Leafs have nothing to lose here as either player would be a welcome addition to the team that looks hard pressed to score goals this upcoming season. The fact that the Leafs have the picks from each of the first three rounds from the 2010 draft just lets the teams they are negotiating with know that they can make your job miserable and lay down an offer sheet to any of these players if we feel that what your offering or wanting in return is not to our liking. The Leafs have acquired a great hand over the weekend and if we were playing poker the Leafs would be closing in on a flush, they question is will they play the hand and wait for the river card to turn or will Burke fold when he gets the deal he is looking for, only Burke knows the answer to that.
Monday, September 7, 2009
The Toronto Maple Leafs rookie camp has gotten underway as the team takes on similar rookie teams from Boston, Ottawa and Pittsburgh in a four game mini tournament in Kitchener. The Leafs rookies opened up the tournament with a 3-1 victory over the Penguins rookie team, in a game that saw the "Monster" Jonas Gustavsson play a steady game for the Blue & White between the pipes turning aside 35 Penguin chances. Victor Stalberg, Greg Scott and Alex Berry scored for the rookie Leafs while Joe Vitale got the only marker pass the Monster, next up for the Leafs will be today against the Boston Bruins rookies.
The Maple Leafs rookie camp Roster