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.

56 comments:

  1. Good post man. Nice to read

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  2. Great post, though I've only really ever watched hockey for the fights that seem inevitable.
    Followed.

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  3. Quite an interesting read actually, even though i've never really watched much of the NHL.

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  4. I've been meaning to get into Hockey... seems like one of the more bad ass sports out there nowadays.

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  5. Kaberle is heading to Boston there's no doubt about it. It's the team he's given Burke as being most favourable to. I'd hate to see him go, he's been with our team for so long.. but it's time. Burke will not resign him and will not let him walk away for free during free agency.. I'm hoping for the best.. but I can see Boston fleecing us again in a deal

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  6. I like hockey ! The fights are so much fun!

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  7. I haven't watched much hockey before but I liked your post nonetheless.

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  8. Ever since the introduction of HDTV I have actually been able to get into watching hockey. However, I'm a blackhawks fan.

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  9. i've heard about this, seems like it's really big news for NFL fans

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  10. The new goalie they got, is doing pretty good!

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  11. lol maybe u can start giving recommendations on betting lines?

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  12. Wow, nice post. following to read more!

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  13. Nice long post. It was a good analysis of the game. Keep 'em coming mate!

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  14. interesting analysis. keep em coming!

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  15. Best o luck. I'm a Ducks fan myself. Don't hate.

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  16. Ahhh good ol hockey, nothin like watchin a game of hockey on a weekend, get to see some serious fights. Always a fun time

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  17. Great write, I enjoy your passionate views about the game.

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  18. Good read mate. 1I enjoy +your style. Go Hawks!

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  19. objectively speaking, how do you think the Leafs are going to fare?

    http://randomramblingggg.blogspot.com

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  20. Very nice read. You should post some more

    -----------------------------
    Check out my League of Legends Blog!

    http://atreties.blogspot.com/

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  21. @Candlej

    Objectively speaking... Not too well. Unless they can string wins together consistantly for the rest of the season I highly doubt we're playoff bound.

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  22. Nice post! enjoyed reading it..following

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  23. i wish they had more NHL in the states...
    especially the playoffs

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  24. My Stars aren't look to great at the moment. ;/

    Followed.

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  25. well, theres always next year..

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  26. Good stuff, I will be following!

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  27. Wow, I don't really follow hockey, but you seem very knowledgeable.

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  28. not a big hockey fan, but I enjoyed this one

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  29. I read a recent article stating how Hockey viewers are the most declining in all sports. I'm glad you still have such passion for the sport! It shows genuine interest.

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  30. Sweet post! Enjoyed the read :) Following and supporting!

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  31. I agree for the most part but i still think the leafs have a lot going for them.

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  32. Someone's quite passionate about hockey!
    My girlfriend's dad plays on a local hockey team. I've never, and by never, I mean absolutely never, had an interest in any sport other than archery and couch-surfing (lol), but i might just start keeping up with hockey. Stuffs legit.

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  33. I finally became a fan of something... Following and supporting :D

    give back some support? :3
    http://jay-v-95.blogspot.com/

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  34. I played in a hockey team when i was younger. Hockey is so much fun, its fast and the best thing are the fights

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  35. Great write, I enjoy your passionate views about the game. i wish they had more NHL in the states...
    especially the playoffs

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  36. Damn good write man, made me have to check out hockey now lol

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  37. I applaud you for the complex and thoughtful analysis you afforded this post. I'm from Aust myself but it's fascinating to read about foreign fans of foreign sports

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  38. here in australia we get very little coverage so i am following your blog ;)

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  39. Great observations man, lol not really adept at analyzing a game... im more stareing than anything

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  40. I'm too jaded on hockey atm. The Wings are sucking, my college's team is sucking. Just...blah.

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  41. I was never really into hockey but this is pretty interesting

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  42. i hope kaberle doens't get traded. it's always good to retire with the team that you spent so much time with

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