Friday, August 30, 2013


Justin Smith

My Rant

With the apparent joking going on between Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri I wonder if this is a good thing? After waiting patiently for months to see if the Leafs best centre will be signed, it seems to be a joke now. Kessel has stated that he teases Kadri about it and believes it will get done. Well my question is why now? There has been speculation in the media as of late that Kadri's agent is stalling to try to make a name for himself by trying to wait out Leafs management. Although this is the thought, it is also assumed that Kadri's agent will eventually have no choice but to sign whatever contract is put in front of him. And just for the record: I believe this to be the case as well. 

SO. I go back to my original question. Why is this so funny now? Why is it so clear he will be signed?

I guess it could be hockey jargon being spouted in place of actual information that cannot be discussed. Either way I think it absolutely absurd that this would be so funny now. If it is so certain the contract will get done then where the hell was the contract two months ago?

All I know is that for every day that goes by without the Leafs ACTUAL number one centre being signed, I further believe that something stupid will happen. LIKE TRADING HIM!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Justin Smith

News and Notes

With training camp set to start in less than a month, two of the Leafs most important players last season remain unsigned. Although the cap seems tight, General Manager Dave Nonis believes he can get get both Cody Franson and Nazem Kadri signed under the cap. As per Dan Rosen of, these are Nonis' comments as follows:

"From our standpoint, we have enough cap space in our minds to get both players signed and that's what we intend to do," Nonis told during a phone interview. "There are definitely ways of making it work. That's our intention."

Nonis also believes that this problem the Leafs find themselves in is common throughout the league right now because of a few specific reasons.

"There have been quiet periods [in the negotiations], but that doesn't bother me at all," Nonis said. "That's par for the course in these types of situations. I also think it's a different year a little bit with the cap dropping [from $70.2 million to $64.3 million]. I think there is recalibration that needs to take place on both sides. You look around the League and I think that's happening. There are a lot of good UFAs [unrestricted free agents] that aren't signed because of the amount of money left in the marketplace."

Stay tuned to the Blue & White Review for the latest on these two potential upcoming signings.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Does Phaneuf Get Enough?

Kyle Farrington
Staff Writer

"Does Phaneuf get enough, what?", you ask.

...I'm talking about credit!

Undoubtedly, Dion Phaneuf receives the most criticism on this team. It doesn't come as a surprise, considering the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs usually gets kicked around the most. I'm sure Mats Sundin will back me up on that one.

Besides, night in and night out Phaneuf plays more than another other player. A good thing in some peoples' eyes, but to others it's just more time to point out his mistakes, in which to dwell on for the remainder of the game (and/or season).

Is that really what this has come to? It's no longer analyzing positives and negatives of a player. Many fans will pick out the proverbial "goat" - so to speak - and simply watch each game to count the amount of errors he makes. In turn, when this specific player makes a number of good plays, it goes unnoticed by these same people.

And this is exactly where Dion stands. It takes him years to win over fans, but just one shift to lose them.

On the flip side, a majority (or possibly a minority) of Leafs Nation cherishes having Phaneuf on the blue line. Playing an average of 25 minutes a night against top tier talent, a first pair penalty killer on the 2nd best penalty killing team in the NHL, all while producing the same amount of points as our #1 center.... (Sorry Tyler, I had to throw one at ya). It's not an easy job, and a short list of NHL players are capable of doing it.

Furthermore, everything Phaneuf has done thus far is with - at best - 2nd pair defensemen. His most suitable partner so far has been Carl Gunnarsson, and he would arguably only be a top 4 guy on most teams. Which isn't saying Gunnarsson is bad, because I could write pages on the value he holds.

I'm not claiming Phaneuf is perfect; he could definitely improve in some areas. But without him, I see a very large hole that will be difficult to fill.

As summer winds down, training camp is just around the corner. A new chapter begins for the Leafs, and certainly a crucial season for the captain.

Friday, August 9, 2013


Justin Smith

This may be old news, heck this may be redundant even, but the fact of the matter is that if the Toronto Maple Leafs had not signed David Clarkson they could have had both RFAs signed by now.

Again this is probably old news, but I don't think I have ever analyzed a signing this team has made so endlessly regarding their cohesive future. If you look at the contract, you either hate it to bits, or you accept its merits. The fact remains that in order to sign one of the free agents from this years crop of players, you were going to have to 'show them the money' so to speak. I'm not here to say that Nonis is an awful General Manager or that Clarkson is a bad player. As a matter of fact, I initially supported the signing because the Leafs have been lacking a true power-forward with scoring ability for at least half a decade now. Like I said before, I have had a few weeks to look at this signing and I have one question to management:

Why did this signing need to happen?

Dave Nonis is a good GM, he has history to that fact, and anyone who says he has ruined the Leafs does not understand hockey in the least. I will be the first to admit that the Clarkson signing may have been a mistake regarding contract priorities but its a pointless argument. Clarkson fits, plain and simple. Will that be enough? Only time will tell.

But lets get back to 'contract priorities' and how they relate to the signing itself. It is my opinion that before they signed Clarkson there are three names you should be looking at first:

1. Phil Kessel

2. Nazem Kadri

3. Cody Franson

What are this team's concerns going forward?

They have never had a player finish in the top five in NHL scoring since Mats Sundin. With Kessel, you may have that for many years to come, with him being so young. Trading him would be the worst thing to do going forward. You would spend the next 5-10 years looking for a winger of his ability and a player of his calibre. If you want to talk about ongoing concerns, look no further than down the middle. I could get into the Bozak signing but I would be typing for the rest of the night then. I will accept it though, as long as it endears Kessel to staying in Toronto.

If you think that Nazem Kadri does not have a chance to become the number one centre the Leafs have been searching for, you didn't watch the Leafs last season. I may be incredibly biased but any young player with a true chance of a season to play with other star players, has two hat-tricks, and made people around him better in every situation, has had an excellent season. Could he flounder next season, of course; that doesn't mean he isn't your greatest asset up the middle. Nonis' biggest mistake may be not organizing his cap around Kadri to begin with. I mean, look at the situation as it stands. Are you confident that he will get signed without something stupid happening?

Now we come to the most annoying part of this discussion. The fact that Cody Franson has not been signed yet is a travesty. Not because he is a superstar but simply because the Leafs D-core is probably one of the worst on paper when you want to talk about playoff teams. I mean the option now is having to doup someone into trading for John Michael Liles. So let me get this straight, now Nonis needs to trade assets in order to sign a 'need' in Franson? How about Phaneuf? Is he worth 7 million? NO! That doesn't change the fact the Leafs need him badly.

Bottom line:

These three players needed to be on this team before Clarkson was. I would even have to say before Dave Bolland was traded for as well. I'm sick of the comparisons to Wendel Clark that Clarkson is facing. I realize it is media driven. And I won't say anything bad about the cover above as they are my former employer but i think it may be a little pre-mature. The only positive I can see regarding management of contracts this summer, is that there still is a chance for things to turn out better than expected. If Nonis can get both RFAs signed and have Clarkson, I would say it was a successful summer. Whether or not Clarkson lives up to his contract...well let's just say that an article for another day or two or three.