Monday, September 26, 2011

Training camp battles...Kadri vs Frattin, Gustavsson vs Scrivens, Gardiner vs Aulie

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone from 70 players at camp to 29 as October 6th, 2011 season opener against the Montreal Canadiens inches closer and closer and the club looking to trim down to the 23 player roster spots. Coach Ron Wilson has some interesting decisions to make as camp comes to a close, some of them expected while some of the surprising but all of a positive note.

We first take a look Leafs Nation at the players that are considered locks to make the squad come opening night. James Reimer, Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, John-Michael Liles, Cody Fransen, Carl Gunnarsson, Mike Komisarek, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly, Joffrey Lupul, Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke MacArthur, Colton Orr, Colby Armstrong, Darryl Boyce, Jay Rosehill, Mike Brown, that is 19 players with Matthew Lombardi healthy this would be 20.

This leaves the club with a few spots where battles lay.....

Nazem Kadri vs Matt Frattin

Kadri is a first round pick 7th overall in 2009 while Frattin was taken in the fourth round 99th overall in 2007.

Kadri dominated Junior with his best season in 2009-10 as the London Knights star recorded 93 points in 56 games, while adding 27 in 12 playoff games. Frattin spent four seasons as a member of the University of North Dakota and recored 36 goals in just 44 games last season.

Kadri and Frattin both have a nose for the net with Kadri being the better playmaker and Frattin the better scorer. Kadri has looked better prepared for his third camp while Frattin may need some seasoning in the AHL

Advantage: Nazem Kadri

Jonas Gustavsson vs Ben Scrivens

Gustavsson and Scrivens were both signed by GM Brian Burke after going undrafted, Burke has added quite a bit of depth to the back end with late bloomers.

Gustavsson led his Swedish club Farjestad to the league title in 2008-09 with phenomenal numbers in the post season, posting 1.03 GAA and .961 save percentage while being named the MVP of the playoffs. Scrivens played at Cornell and won the ECAC goalie of the year in his senior season, while also being a top 10 finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.

Gustavsson hopefully has his heart problems behind him and does possess NHL experience, Scrivens would be better served playing in 50 games in the AHL then sitting on the bench in Leafland.

Advantage: Jonas Gustavsson

Keith Aulie vs Jake Gardiner

Aulie was acquired from Calgary as part of the Dion Phaneuf trade and is a former fourth round pick from the 2007 draft while Gardiner came over with Lupul last season and is a former first round pick in the 2008 draft. 

Aulie played his junior career in the WHL with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Abbotsford Heat while Gardiner is another Leafs with NCAA experience playing three seasons for Wisconsin. 

Aulie had a decent stint with the club in the second half of last season but is still learning the game on the backend, Gardiner has an offensive flair and gives the club something it was lacking last season a threat from the backend with every shift. This is a tough one as both players dont have to clear waivers to play in the AHL.

Advantage: Keith Aulie

The season is around the corner will there be a surprise when training camp opens like last seasons Tim Brent earning a spot or is this team going into the season with no surprises but a team on a growing path? We will find out soon enough Leafs Nation.

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