Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
Let’s assume that Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan is earnest in his pursuit of a left-handed defenseman who can play alongside the right-handed shooting Mike Green on the Caps’ blue line....
At 29, Phaneuf is in the prime of his NHL career but comes with a killer contract -- seven years, $49 million beginning next season. Phaneuf was beaten up by the Toronto media last season and is in desperate need of a change of scenery. His no-movement clause kicks in on July 1, so the clock is ticking for the Leafs to move him now.
Phaneuf is big (6-foot-3, 214 pounds), productive (eight goals, 23 assists) and can eat up big minutes (23:33), but unless the Leafs agree to pay a large portion of his salary, Phaneuf could be a financial albatross to any NHL suitor.
The Caps also would need to consider the price it would take to get Phaneuf. The Hurricanes reportedly are dangling Eric Staal, while the Oilers reportedly would part with Sam Gagner or Nail Yakupov. Would the Caps be willing to move their 13th pick overall and Marcus Johansson and/or Dmitry Orlov in exchange for Phaneuf?
from Mike Brophy of CBC,
From this little corner of the hockey universe, I see only four players on the Maple Leafs who should be considered untouchables: Bernier, defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner and left-winger James van Riemsdyk.
All others should be made available to allow Toronto to become a better defensive team that is willing to pay a price for victory. That doesn't mean Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis necessarily has to clean house. But if somebody comes knocking at his door inquiring about the availability of, say, Phil Kessel or Joffrey Lupul, he must listen to offers. If somebody wants to take Phaneuf's seven-year contract that kicks in next season off his hands, Nonis should be all ears.
That said, I am not among those who believe Phaneuf must go. I feel Toronto fans are too tough on the 29-year-old veteran. He is a defenceman who logs more ice time than any other member of the Maple Leafs and plays every game against the opposition's best offensive players. In fact, Phaneuf was having a pretty good year until the final quarter, when the wheels inexplicably came off.
Is he the best choice as captain? Debate among yourselves. But keep in mind, the Maple Leafs don't have many qualified candidates for the job.
After watching this season's playoffs, it should be abundantly clear to those running the Maple Leafs that Tyler Bozak is not the guy who should be centring the top line.
from Mike Spry of BarDown,
San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton's name surfaced in trade rumours this week, so of course the Leafs were mentioned as a possible destination. This according to a Toronto-centric hockey media, who quite often ignore logic and reason, all to the delight of Leafs Nation.
Not a free agent, tradeable asset, or draft eligible player can enter hockey's consciousness without being linked to Toronto. Before long, kids in The Junction were dreaming of Thornton's pure passing skills and Phil Kessel's scoring prowess, Jumbo Joe sweaters under the Christmas tree, and parade routes up Yonge Street.
But would Thornton, who has a full no-trade clause and as such controls his destiny, want to play in Toronto? I would argue no, and here's why: Toronto is the most difficult place in the world to play hockey. It is the NHL's Hell.
Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet says the Toronto Maple Leafs are trying to trade for Joe Thornton.
from the CP at TSN,
"I'm realistic that you can't do everything overnight, that there are 29 other teams that are trying to accomplish the same goal and also covet good players," Shanahan said in a phone interview Wednesday. "No one's going to lay down for us because we're the Toronto Maple Leafs and give us their assets."
Shanahan, who took his time before deciding along with general manager Dave Nonis to extend coach Randy Carlyle for two more seasons and fire assistants Scott Gordon, Greg Cronin and Dave Farrish, seems willing to take a patient approach in remaking the roster to suit his style.
One month into this new challenge, the 45-year-old insisted it's too early to even know how much change the Leafs need.
"You want to be ready to come out of the gates, we all know how important each game is, but I would say with most teams the team that starts a season isn't necessarily the same team that ends a season," Shanahan said. "For me, timing is less an issue as is the quality of the decisions. I don't feel and I'm not getting any pressure from anyone in the organization saying this team has to look like this by this date."
On Dion Phaneuf...
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
“I don’t know if it (stripping the captaincy) is a solution,” said Shanahan. “I think it’s a cop-out, to a certain degree an easy way out.
“Has it happened on some teams? Yes. Is it something I’m thinking about since I’ve been here? Ultimately this will be a group decision. But I can tell you it’s not something I’ve contemplated. Just the opposite. I want to help enhance the player and leader that Dion is.”
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
In Calgary, Brian Burke — who made Phaneuf the Leafs captain when Burke was the Leafs GM — is the Flames president of hockey operations. Phaneuf would be Calgary’s second-best blue-liner behind Mark Giordano.
In Edmonton, Phaneuf’s hometown, he would immediately step in as the Oilers’ best defenceman — which isn’t what Phaneuf needs.
In San Jose, Phaneuf’s offence and power-play blast could offset the pending absence of Dan Boyle, should Boyle not return. And he would be surrounded by a defensive group that could afford Phaneuf less time defending in key situations, as he is asked to do in Toronto.
In St. Louis, the feeling was that Chicago’s major advantage was a second defensive pairing that was vastly superior to the Blues’. Would Phaneuf change that? Yes, he would — as a second-pairing guy. Not a one-two.
Of course, the question becomes this: Can a $7 million cap hit (for seven more seasons) ever be considered a second-pairing defenceman? Answer: he can if he’s a $5.25 million player, with the Leafs retaining 25 per cent of Phaneuf’s salary.
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
This is what the off-season is going to look like for the Leafs, who after failing to fire their head coach last week have unintentionally changed the discussion to cleaning out the dressing room. James Reimer? Joffrey Lupul? James van Riemsdyk? With each new day leading up to next month’s NHL Entry Draft, they are all reportedly trade bait.
The information might not always be accurate. But that’s beside the point. Change is coming. Or, at least, we think it is.
The Leafs have six pending unrestricted free agents and four restricted free agents, so some players will inevitably be on the move. At the same time, the core of this roster is anchored to the team’s long-term future. Phil Kessel is locked up for eight more years; Phaneuf for seven years; David Clarkson for six years; Lupul, Tyler Bozak and van Riemsdyk for five years.
Of those players, Phaneuf is the only one without some form of a no-trade clause.
While we can debate the merits of trading or keeping Phaneuf, or stripping him of the captaincy, the thinking is that something has to change for the Leafs this off-season. Brendan Shanahan was not hired as the new president to keep the status quo, although he did just that with Carlyle.
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
It was less than a month ago Tim Leiweke leaned into a microphone and all but called the Toronto Maple Leafs broken.
The CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment said he wasn’t sure they had the right environment, the right people, the right culture. He said making the playoffs two seasons ago clearly masked a deeper problem. He said the Maple Leafs lacked an identity.
A month later, and what have we learned? General manager Dave Nonis remains in place, superseded by the man Leiweke was introducing that day, Brendan Shanahan. On Thursday, the Leafs announced they have not only not fired head coach Randy Carlyle, but they have given him a two-year contract extension.
The more things change, it appears, the more they stay the same. If you follow the Leafs at all, you know this is not a promising sign.
added 9:43am, from Elliotte Friedman of CBC,
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
If Carlyle turns things around, with the help of quite a few roster changes by the look of things, then great, as far as Shanahan is concerned. The Leafs have continuity and all that. If there is another march off the cliff at any point in the season, well, hey, Carlyle is Nonis’s guy, eh?
And don’t get caught up in the fact Carlyle is under contract for three more seasons, which probably has the Leafs on the hook for something around $6-million (all currency U.S.). Some of the MLSE directors spill that much at lunch.
The two-year contract extension is a clear message to the players. They are being told Carlyle is no lame-duck coach; the contract security means he has the backing of management, so it’s his way or the highway.
This is why Shanahan and Nonis made the right decision. There were too many shirkers last season when it came time to play the hard hockey needed to get into the playoffs. A lot of them need to go and Nonis is planning to say goodbye if he can manage it.
Watch/listen below as Dave Nonis talks about the contract extension of Randy Carlyle...
Carlyle is on the conference too.
added 3:59pm, Conference complete, read all about it in your local Toronto media outlet.
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