Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Ulmer at TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
For an idea just what Burke is facing, let’s take a look at the grid for opening night, 2011-2012, two and a half seasons from now.
The Leafs desperately need to get younger. To that end, I have limited the top two lines and top two defensive pairings to players 25 years or younger on opening night. Keep in mind, there will always be room for productive older players. Nik Hagman will be nearly 32, but it’s hard to think his game would not be welcome somewhere on the roster.
On defence: Luke Schenn. He’s a sure bet. A little below Schenn, put Jeff Finger in the depth chart. Anton Stralman has the talent to be a top four defenceman but it’s impossible to accurately predict whether he will make the jump. I like Jonas Frogren’s mean for the third pairing and based on his ever improving play, Ian White might be considered in the mix.
But for top four, we have one guy, Schenn.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
When Paul Holmgren took over the down and out Philadelphia Flyers at least he had Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne to build around.
When George McPhee began the process of starting over with the Washington Capitals, he could point to the drafting of Alexander Ovechkin as the starting point toward success.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins began to blossom, the future came primarily from the selections of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby in the drafts of 2004 and 2005.
This is Brian Burke’s problem. There are no Ryan Getzlafs and Corey Perrys awaiting him as there were in Anaheim. There are no Carters, Richards, Malkins or Crosbys on the way.
Fan590 reporting Brad May will be a Leaf. Toronto giving up a conditional pick.
added 12:36pm, Confirmed by TSN.
via Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,
Could some members of the Maple Leafs be fitted for a new jacket of the blue variety?
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had scouts shadowing several teams lately, and had two at the game Thursday night at the Air Canada Centre between the Leafs and Buffalo Sabres.
Nik Antropov and defenceman Pavel Kubina are said to interest Jackets general manager Scott Howson. And you have to figure Leafs GM Brian Burke, now just over a month on the job, is dying to make a deal. Burke apparently has told the Jackets that he gladly will move players with contracts to get draft picks in return.
Columbus also has a big interest in New York Islanders centre Doug Weight, who said last week he does not want to be a rental again.
from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star,
In any case, it was a little bit of retro Leafs feeling in the building, with 19,000 fans chanting “Cu-Jo, Cu-Jo” in the second period as he withstood a barrage of Thrasher shots on back-to-back power plays, preserving a 2-2 tie. He was named the game’s first star and when he skated on to the ice, the love-in started up again.
“You block out the negative stuff, but you hear the good stuff,” Joseph said. “It’s a great feeling. They want you to do well for sure. This is my dream job and sometimes you don’t realize it till you’re gone.”
It’s funny he should say that. Was last night the beginning of an unofficial and brief farewell tour – without the parting gifts – for the popular 41-year-old?
Think about the unusual Leafs decision to start Joseph at all in the midst of a three-game losing skid and then announce in advance that he would also start versus the Sabres. It was a head-scratcher for many.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Matt Stajan spent Sunday in a hospital with an eye injury and he will be lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs for at least a week as the result of a rowdy soccer game.
Stajan, the Leafs’ No. 1 centre, was hit on the eye with a soccer ball before the Leafs’ practice on Saturday during a warmup exercise common to NHL teams. Players gather in a circle and try to keep the ball in the air as long as possible by kicking or heading it. If a player allows the ball to hit the floor he is out of the game and the game ends when no players are left.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
It’s a derby in which the Maple Leafs, not yet bad enough to get better, must have a horse.
Brian Burke knows it, Dave Nonis knows it and even Ron Wilson, you have to believe, knows it.
John Tavares’ special performance on a big stage for Team Canada in the opening game of the world junior championship in Ottawa on Friday night was just the latest piece of compelling evidence that made it clear the Leafs need to be at least in a position to win the draft lottery and land the No. 1 overall pick next June.
from Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star,
According to the coach, goalie Vesa Toskala played well, despite being yanked and booed off the ice after allowing his seventh goal midway through the second period.
“He didn’t have a chance on any of those goals,” Wilson said to a stunned media at his post-game briefing. “I don’t think it was fair that the fans got on him if that was their intention. Shot, rebound, shot, rebound and then someone puts it in the empty net. It certainly wasn’t Vesa’s fault, at all.”
Hmm. Wilson reiterated his feelings that the schedule-makers pretty much set the stage for his squad’s horrible contra-performance last night, as if nobody else had ever played back-to-back games within the same time zone in the history of the league. And yes, the goaltender had been sent home from Atlanta on Sunday to nurse his slightly pulled groin back to health – and rest up.
“It was more fatigue than anything,” Wilson argued. “We didn’t have our legs. We didn’t have our minds. Unfortunately it got ugly. It’s already behind me.”
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
Twenty-two-year-old netminder Justin Pogge is expected to make his NHL debut for the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Atlanta Thrashers on Monday.
The Leafs will promote the young prospect from the Toronto Marlies of the AHL after No. 1 goalie Vesa Toskala suffered a groin injury in the second period of Toronto’s impressive 7-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday evening….
“We’re concerned with our goaltending issue on two levels,” Burke said from California before the game. “We need to take care of the health of our goaltender’s health and stability over an 82-game schedule and we need to get a look at this kid.
“[Pogge] hasn’t been dominant at the AHL level, but we need to see what we have with him.”
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
When asked yesterday if he was about to scrap his goalie plans – especially after their struggles in Thursday’s 8-5 loss to Boston – Leafs coach Ron Wilson simply shook his head.
“No, not at all,” Wilson said as the Leafs picked themselves up and prepared for another offensive onslaught in the form of the Penguins, whom they face tonight.
Certainly, the Leafs need more from their current goalie tandem, but subpar stats from the pair won’t hasten the arrival of Justin Pogge, who will be summoned from the Marlies for a serious look in the NHL.
Pogge’s showcase could happen anytime after Christmas or early in the new year, but the Leafs have mapped out his call-up and haven’t based it on the performances they’ve received so far from Toskala and Joseph.
For now, the Leafs appear married to their plan to give Pogge 60-plus starts for the Marlies.
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