Thursday, 3 March 2011

Eighteen Games

A Leaf's playoff birth rests on the final leg of the race. With only eighteen games remaining in the season the Leaf's may be fighting the odds, but they aren't out yet.

The Good: 

Phil Kessel, after fighting through a slump has posted ten points in their last five; which includes five goals.This surging offensive production is a relief to Kessel and Leaf fans alike. He is now tied for the team lead with 49 points.

James Reimer has rebounded from a knee to the head he recieved against Atlanta and posted a .931 S% in the Leaf's last game against Pittsburgh. Reimer a glimmer of hope in the lockeroom, has steamrolled into the NHL winning 11 of twenty contests.

Nikolai Kulemin - the longest serving Leaf - has been, in my opinion, the most consistant Leaf this season. He may not put up points every game, but he plays hard at both ends of the rink and competes every night. He has passed his career high in all offensive numbers: Goals with 23 and assists with 22.

The Rest: 

The Leaf's sit in tenth place, four points out of the playoffs. In front is Buffalo (sixty-seven points with twenty games remaining) and Carolina (sixty-nine points with eighteen games left). It should also be noted that The New York Rangers are also fighting for a spot in 7th place with seventy points and they only have seventeen games left.

With Buffalo playing twenty games the Leaf's must hope they: flop in this last dash, or that they can beat both Carolina AND New York for that coveted eighth spot.

It will take a lot of effort to push themselves into that final spot - effort that has been absent from their last few starts - but it isn't unreasonable to believe they can make it.

On to Philly.


Sorry I've been away for what's been almost two weeks, been very busy. Anyways, should have a blog out later today.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Kaberle a Bruin

General Manager Brian Burke announced friday that Tomas Kaberle has been traded to the Boston Bruins. In return the Leaf's aquired first round pick, 16th overall from the 2008 draft, Joe Colborne; Boston's first round pick this year and a conditional second round pick next year.

As a Kaberle fan it is hard to see him go, and in some sense I am heart broken, but the return is definitely a plus for the Leafs. Two first round picks and a second for Kaberle is much more than I think anyone could have anticipated.

On to Colborne. His a big centerman, 6'5" 190lbs (according to and plays a hard game. He is in essence a "Burke type player". In 2009-2010 he moved from the University of Denver to play for the Providence Bruins of the AHL - where he played six games.

Joe made the roster perminantly this season. He's played 55 games and registered 26 points (12 goals), word is he will most likely spend the remainder of the season with the Marlies.

The first round pick gives the Leafs two this year and Brian Burke has said that he is looking to parlay that into a higher pick.

Though I'm sad to see him go I think this was a good trade for the club. Here's hoping Burke can work his magic and get us a top tier pick this coming draft.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

The Leaf's Heading Forward

Thirteen days. It's all General Manager Brian Burke has left. Thirteen days to fix a team struggling offensively and battered by inconsistancy. On February 28th the Trading Deadline for the 2011 NHL season will come into effect thus ending any remaining attempts at redirecting this team into the post-season. With so much weighing on the Leaf's finish to this season, Burke's under pressure to make something happen.

What the Leaf's need: 

First and foremost on Burke's shopping list should be a number one centerman; someone to play alongside Kessel - who has struggled through a streaky season.

During his time playing in Boston, Kessel saw ample time playing the wing with Marc Savard. Savard - a talented puck mover - was a perfect compliment to Kessel's aggressive shooting style. In 2008-2009, the duo scored 148 points along with 23 playoff markers that following post season. However with no legitimate forward to play with in Toronto Kessel he has struggled.

The number one guy on most of Leaf Nation's wish list is Dallas Stars forward Brad Richards - a Stanley Cup winner in 2006 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He scored 91 points that season - which he replicated last season. Richards has never been a big goal-scorer at the NHL level - never passing the 30 goal mark - but has seen consistant 70+ point seasons. It's his passing ability that makes him such a big target for the Leafs.

Other notable free agents include: Tim Connolly and Tomas Fleischman.

The Leafs first round pick is in Boston for the second consecutive year with the possibility of it being another top ten. Burke has repeatedly told the press of his intent on winning now and not rebuilding through the draft, however the team lacks top quality prospects (with a few exceptions) and should strive to restock the cupboard as best as possible.

What Burke has done thus far:

On February 9th, Burke sent thirty year-old defenseman Francois Beauchemin to his former team, the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for winger Joffrey Lupul, college prospect - and former first round draft pick - Jake Gardiner and a conditional 4th round pick in 2013.

The trade was favoured by Leaf fans as Beauchemin had struggled in Toronto scoring only 38 points in two seasons. The trade loosened up a ton of ice-time for young defensman Keith Aulie (who was aquired last year in the deal that brought over Dion Phaneuf) and has played well above expectations.

On Monday Leafs traded forward Kris Versteeg (a late off-season addition) to the Philadelphia Flyers for their 1st and 3rd round picks in 2011. The first round pick is expected to be a late one with the Flyers most likely to see extended playoff action. Versteeg will have a shot at a second Cup in as many years playing now with the team he defeated in last seasons finals.

What is left:

The biggest question for Leaf Nation this deadline will be Tomas Kaberle. The last few seasons he has been the center of most Leaf trade talk. The community has a black and white opinion on him, either you hate him or you love him.

Kaberle has spent his entire career in Toronto racking up a total of 482 (28 playoff) points in 820 (77) games. He has participated in the NHL All-star game four times (2002, 2007, 2008 and 2009) - winning the All-Star Game Accuracy Competition in 2008.

On numerous occasions Kaberle has let Leaf Nation know of his intentions on finishing his career in Toronto, but rumour has it that he has given Burke a list of teams he'd be willing to waive his No-Trade-Clause for. One team on that list is rumoured to be the Boston Bruins. Expecting to be real contenders this year the team needs something to stimulate a mediocre powerplay that sits at 16th in the NHL. Are Kaberle's days in Toronto numbered? As a fan I dearly hope not.

Along with that, the recent injury to Marc Savard has Boston shopping for a replacement centerman. Mikhail Grabovski is having a career season and leads the team in scoring. Could he be another player Boston is interested in? The Leaf's could get a good return shopping Grabovski and Kaberle together, however one that would most likely eliminate any chance of making the playoffs.

These next two weeks are going to be interesting ones here in Leaf Land. Here's hoping for the best.