Monday, August 15, 2011


The ire of Leafs Nation never fades these days, as this team has not made the playoffs in 6+ years now. Mr. Brian Burke is trying to give them something they've been missing for almost half a century; I won't bother saying what it is because I among many have heard it WAY too much in the last 6 years. The long suffering fan-base has seen good players come and go, playoff runs that boiled their blood, and awful play that made the season seem 3 years long. In all this time though the Leafs could never boast a talented farm system in any such way. The last 3 years the Maple Leafs have seen growth in every facet of the game, giving some credence to the hiring of GM Brian Burke. When has this franchise improved so much with any other GM in its history? Well the only answer I could even think of is Conn Smythe; Seeing as that is 40 years past now, it's time to start acknowledging the successes of this NEW management team.

One of the best things that this management team did was hiring Dallas Eakins as their AHL Head Coach. There are numerous current prospect/players that have spoke very well about Eakins coaching, such as Tyler Bozak and Joe Colborne. He is an intense person who expects tremendous effort in all of his players. He rewards success with more minutes and  gives second chances and better opportunities with failures. He is well liked and respected throughout the Toronto Marlies locker room. Dallas Eakins is my pick for who takes the reins as the Head Coach of the Leafs if Ron Wilson should be fired before this upcoming mid-season.

Top Players In The AHL 
Jake Gardiner
Jesse Blacker
Nazem Kadri
Joe Colborne
Matt Frattin
Jussi Rynnas

Top Players In The CHL/ College
Brad Ross
Greg McKegg
Josh Nichols
Sondre Olden
Stuart Percy
David Broll
Tyler Biggs

Monday, August 8, 2011

Caught In The Weber of Want

As many people people will suggest over the next few months, the Maple Leafs should make a play for Shea Weber. Is this a realistic outcome?.... Probably not, considering how the Predators were fleeced by Brian Burke a couple months ago. My option may be less feasible due to contractual reasons.
Here's my suggestion:
Trade for Shea Weber if he's available, play out most of the season. Whether he's a force on the blue-line or is just taking up capspace, trade him before the trade deadline.
Then you will ask:
"But Justin, why would you trade an AllStar defenceman?" Thats get a TRUE #1 Centre.
I'm thinking maybe a Jordan Stall or Paul Statsny.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Kadri In The "A"

I'm just going to come out and say it; Patience is a virtue. This thought seems to be lost on some Maple Leaf fans and it has been like this since the very night that Nazem Kadri was drafted 7th overall.

Last season Kadri played 29 games with the Leafs with only 12 points to show for it. It would be a very sore topic for Leafs' management if he had put up the same numbers in the AHL, he did not. After coming back from an injury earlier in the season and spending time with the Leafs, Nazem could only put together a 44 game campaign with the Toronto Marlies. Most of this is in credit to Kadri who was called up late in the season and stuck with the team until the final game. If he had not been injured or promoted for the last few months, Brian Burke would be likely be looking at some very impressive AHL numbers. In 44 games with the Marlies last season Kadri scored 17 goals and 24 assists for 41 points. With his progression through every game it would've been understandable to assume he could've reached the total he was on pace for, which was about 75 points. Those are VERY good AHL numbers for a rookie in any given year.

If kadri makes the team out of training camp I don't think anybody would argue the decision. If he is relegated to the Marlies for the beginning of the season though, people may start to go nuts. Why? If he shows the same drive he did last season in the AHL, leave him there and let him thrive. Whats the worst that could happen? Kadri has a 80 point season? Come on guys, players develop because they are young. You don't get a player for everything he will ever be at the ripe old age of 19. I say leave him in the "A" and let him dominate the league. If there is an emergency than he's the first on your list to be called up,  plain and simple.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Prospect Profile: Kegger

Looking at Maple Leafs prospects has been a bit of a disaster for the past decade or so. Never really finding a player that would bring something special, the Leafs have been severely lacking in the scouting department for as long as I can remember. This has inevitably led to an empty cupboard and subpar, if not horrible winning records throughout the years; Two short years ago that all changed.

Brian Burke was handed the keys to the castle, and given full control of the team. The scouting staff under Burke has made significant progress the last few years. One particular pick that has turned into a gem is a St. Thomas, Ontario Native, Greg McKegg. Greg plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL, and Captained the team into the playoffs this past spring. Many within the Otters organization, including his coach, Robbie Ftorek, believe he is the epitome of what a true captain is.

His regular season numbers have jumped massively in the last few years with the Otters. 
2008 - 2009 (Rookie Season)
8 Goals - 10 Assists
18 Points in 64 Games.

2010 - 2011 (Last Season)
49 Goals - 43 Assists
92 Points in 66 Games.

After the Otters were eliminated frm playoff contention he was given the privilege of being called up to the Marlies to play out the final two games of the AHL season. He scored his first Pro goal in his first game with the Marlies. Although he will most likely return to the Otters next season, McKegg will be on the shortlist to make the AHL if he impresses further at training camp this fall.

Assuming he does return to the OHL, he will be playing alongside a newly acquired teammate, and fellow Leafs prospect Sondre Olden. The Erie Otters picked him 31st overall in the CHL import draft, no doubt because of the chemistry he and Greg showed during last seasons NHL rookie Tournament; Being drafted by the same team, in the same round at the same draft doesn't hurt either. Brian Burke suggested to Olden last season that he should enter the Import Draft so he could work on his North American game in the CHL. Being drafted by the Otters was probably the best thing for him by far. With McKegg's guidance, he can learn how to utilize his 6'4 180 Pound frame on the wing with the captain this upcoming OHL season. This also means they could both be making the Marlies at the same time in the 2012 - 2013 AHL season.

Monday, July 18, 2011

25 Things On My Mind

Guest Blogger: KF_Kadri43

I could make a bunch of little blogs, but what’s the point. Here is some things that are on my mind.

1.       Don’t worry about Luke Schenn not signing. It WILL get done.

2.       Stamkos will NOT become a Leaf.  1/20 chance Parise gets moved.

3.       Jonas Gustavsson is looking to take back his #1 spot. He says he is finally healthy.

4.       Nazem Kadri for Kyle Turris is like trading $5.00 for $5.00... Maybe even $5.50 for $5.00.

5.       Cody Franson is a lot better than people think.

6.       Tim Connolly is a good 2nd line center. 1st line? Doubt it.

7.       Don’t always listen to Burke. He plays the game very smart. The media is one of his tools.

8.       Call me crazy, but I am terrified Reimer will suffer from the sophomore slump

9.       Ron Wilson is do or die.

10.   Don’t think of Komisarek as a “negative”. He has skill, he doesn’t have confidence.

11.   Jeff Finger has trade value. Ask Brett Lebda.

12.   We are a playoff team. Key word, “playoff”. Not cup contending. Answer: True #1 Center

13.   With a point per game playmaker, Kessel CAN be a 50 goal scorer.

14.   PREDICTION: Dion Phaneuf- 14 goals, 32 assists. Huge bounce back year.

15.   Joey Crabb needs to be signed back.

16.   MLSE might be getting impatient. They don’t understand the time it takes for long term success.

17.   Speaking of long term success, why are people throwing Kadri’s name around like a football.

18.   Luke Schenn paired with Dion Phaneuf could mean Noris for one?

19.   Ryan Hamilton will be the first Marlies call up...if healthy. Jake Gardiner, first defence call up.

20.   Matt Frattin is the best pure sniper, behind Kessel.

21.   Leafs new 3rd jersey is pretty sweet. Hopefully it brings good luck.

22.   I’d put my money on Tyler Biggs if ANYONE is going to make it out of camp.

23.   Lombardi, 70% he WILL return. 20% he takes the season  (maybe half) off. 10% he retires.

24.   We have the assets to make a trade, and have no risk of doing worse.

25.   2014, Leaf will win the Stanley Cup!

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Friday, July 15, 2011

Too Much or Too Little?

So many people have been criticizing Brian Burke for either doing too much or too little when it comes to improving the Toronto Maple Leafs. I never understood how this can happen considering the moves that Burke has pulled off to this point. Could he have made better decisions? Yeah, of course he could have, but so could have every other GM in the NHL. When you look at the key moves he has made since becoming the Leafs GM about two years ago, its clear to see he has done more good for this franchise then any other Leaf GM in recent history. So I compiled a list of the BEST trades and pickups by Mr. Burke since being hired by Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment.

April 3erd, 2009
Signed Tyler Bozak to 2 year entry level deal.

June 26th, 2009:
Drafted Nazem Kadri 7th overall.

July 2end, 2009:
Re-signed RFA Grabovski to a 3 year contract @ $2,900,000 per season.

July 6th, 2009:
Signed relative unknown minor-leaguer Tim Brent.

July 7th, 2009:
Signed Jonus Gustavsson to 1 year @ $810,000.

September 18th, 2009:
Traded 2 first round picks and a 2end round pick to the Boston Bruins for Phil Kessel.

January 31st, 2010:
Traded Vesa Toskala and Jason Blake to Anaheim Ducks for J.S Giguere.

January 31st, 2010:
Traded Matthew Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White, and Jamal Mayers to Calgary Flames for Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, and Fredrik Sjostrom.

July 1st, 2010:
Signed Colby Armstrong to a 3 year contract @ $3,000,000 per season.

August 28th, 2010:
Signed Clarke MacArthur to a 1 Year contract @ $1,100,000.

Fubruary 14th, 2011:
Traded Kris Versteeg to Philadelphia Flyers for a 1st round pick and 3erd round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft on June 24th.

Febuary 18th, 2011:
Traded Tomas Kaberle to the Boston Bruins for a 1st round pick in 2011, Joe Colborne, and a 2end round pick in the 2012 entry draft.

June 24th, 2011:
Traded 2end round pick in 2012 (Boston Bruins) to the Colorado Avalanche for defenceman John Michael Liles.

July 2end, 2011:
Signed Tim Connolly to a 2 year contract @ $4,750,000 per season.

July 3erd, 2011:
Traded Brett Lebda and prospect Robert Slaney to the Nashville Predators for Matthew Lombardi and blue-chipper Cody Franson.

Soon to come:
Signing of Luke Schenn.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Understanding Burke

Guest Blogger: KF_Kadri43
In the latest press conference by Brian Burke, he stated that he is done for now. But is he?

We all realize there are potentially 9 NHL defensemen, (including Finger and Lashoff), so what is going on in Burke’s head? Is he actually planning on heading into the season with all these defenders? Well, I am here to tell you lovely, good looking, well brought up, intelligent, respectful, caring, Leaf fans, that Burke is NOT done.

A couple things are running through my head. After watching the press conference many, many times, I see that Burke often contradicts himself. He claims he is done for now, but seconds later he says we have enough defensemen to use one in a trade if need be.

Burkie is a go big or go home type of guy. Is he really thinking Connolly is our answer to get Kessel up to a 50 goal scorer? Sure he can set people up, but not first line quality. Therefore, technically we have 2 2nd line centers.  That’s another sign a trade might happen. Brian likes to fill the holes from a trade, before the trade even happens. Which is why I believe he got Franson, and Connolly. If I had to place a bet, I say so far it looks like Grabovski and Gunnarsson are lined up to be traded. Connolly can take Grabo’s place, he has chemistry with MacArthur from BUF, and Kulemin works well with everyone. Franson is a better version of Gunnarsson, but they are similar players.

Alas, another point that Burke is not done. Since when does a GM, especially Burke, come out and say he is done. No one asked him a question, he just said it.  My guess is that he said he is done, just to get other GM’s to think he isn’t desperate. If we were desperate for a #1 center, teams will rack there price up. Now, Burke can do what he does best, and pounce on wounded pray. A team like NYI or COL who are under the cap floor, are going to get desperate to take on salary. Which makes a guy like Mr. Jeff Finger become valuable.

I feel bad for spilling the beans, but sorry Burkie boy, you can’t fool KF.

Let me know what you think... Is Burke done? Or he is playing his cards right?

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Monday, July 11, 2011

The Importance of Memory

This one of my recent LEAFSPACE blogs, and I thought it would be worth posting on HOCKEYFLUX.
Once upon a time there were two hockey fans. One was a Leaf fan and the other was a Habs fan. They were best friends, but would argue about which team was better. Both of them would watch these teams face each other in the early years of their childhood. Every Saturday night these two teams played they would go to each others house and share in the experience with their family members. They grew up together through high school until graduation. The Leaf fan didn't know what career he wanted to get into, so he decided he wanted to devout his time in the Canadian Forces. The Hab fan went to University to become a doctor, something his parents wanted for him since he was a small child. Although they went their separate ways, they still stayed in touch for a few years. They lost touch along the way with the Hab fan starting his own practice, and the Leaf fan serving his second term in Afghanistan. 
A few years later the Habs fan came to Toronto with his wife to visit some friends. He had gotten platinum tickets to that night's Leafs and Habs game through one of his friends in Toronto. When he sat in his seat he noticed that at centre ice there was a ceremony and presentation but he didn't know why because he was late. A picture came up on the video board as they started to mention the memories of a specific Colonel in the Forces that had recently died. The Leaf fan, his friend, was that Colonel who passed away. The Habs fan felt a lump forming in his throat as they described him as a Leaf fan and a father of two girls. Just as the word "father" protruded through the walls of the Air Canada Centre, a tear gently rolled down his left cheek.  
The Maple Leafs won that game, but the Habs fan did not see it as a bad thing that his team lost. More that his friends memory would be remembered by 19,000 people who were just as passionate about their favourite team as his friend was. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Guest Blogger: KF_Kadri43 --- Contender or Pretender

Well Leaf Nation, what is it? Are we serious about being a contender in the NHL, not only contending for a playoff spot, I’m talking about the real deal... A Stanley Cup contender!

...Orrrrrr, are we pretending to be a contender, and tricking ourselves into believing our team is good enough to make it into the finals.

We are the youngest team in the NHL, so if we aren’t “Cup” ready, is it a bad thing? Well, Chicago did it with a young team... What’s our excuse?

I am confident with just ONE MORE TRADE, we can consider ourselves a contending hockey team. And it’s real simple to see what our problem is. We still don’t have a true #1 center. Connolly was added, but since when has he been considered an elite #1 center? Definitely an upgrade from what we had, but let’s not just settle with mediocre, because we had poor in the past.

If you look at our line-up, (by the way, I am noticing in every single blog of mine, I add in the line-up...), we are actually significantly better than what we were last season. But that’s not our goal. We don’t want to be better than ourselves; we need to be better than the other teams.

Lupul-Connolly-Kessel: Great wingers, but a 2nd line center. Primary scoring can be ALOT better with a true #1 C.

MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin: Chemistry is there. Secondary scoring is among the best in the NHL with this line.

Kadri-Bozak-Lombardi-Armstrong: A line of 4 players. No, not actually happening, but we have potentially 4 NHL players that are all currently 3rd line players. Health and progression is an issue.

Brown-Zigomanis/Dupuis-Orr/Rosehill: Pick and choose. Your guess is as good as mind. Our fighter will be fighting for their spot.

Here is the situation...

8 NHL defensemen, plus a load of prospects waiting for their chance.

So if you think about it, we can afford to take assets from some areas, and use them to acquire our biggest need... A NUMBER 1 CENTER.

-We can use 1 of the 2 #2 centers we have...  
-Up to 2 defencemen...

With all that trade bait, we are sure to acquire a #1 center which will make us a contender, and not a pretender.

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