Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Simmons of Sportsnet,
With five losses in a row, many have wondered whether the Leafs will be buyers or sellers at the April 3 trade deadline.
According to Nonis, that depends on what is made available on the trade market.
“We’re going to be in the mix with a bunch of teams,” said Nonis. “I’ve been asked if we’re going to be buyers or sellers and I think there’s a possibility of both … We could be moving players out, we could move some picks to bring players in. It’s going to be determined on what’s available to us.”
The Leafs plan to stay active but based on conversations they have had, Nonis does not foresee any moves coming in the short term.
Making their first playoff appearance since 2003-04 remains a priority but will not make a short-term move that could hinder the team’s future success.
“Would we move (Matt) Frattin and (Nazem) Kadri for older groups of players?” Nonis said. “That just wouldn’t make any sense to us. If we can add a piece that can help us get in than we would look to do it.”
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
It’s morning. Time to shoot some pucks.
Out walk Clarke MacArthur and John-Michael Liles, to a $100,000 contraption that will let them do just that.
Gone are the days of shooting pucks and denting the garage. Or putting up the fake goalie in the net with the five holes clearly marked.
In this day and age of high tech and every advantage money can buy for a sports team, the Maple Leafs have given their players a new toy: A gadget called RapidShot. Like the batting cage has done for baseball for years — automated thrown balls so a hitter can practise — this machine passes pucks to shooters.
Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean of Sportsnet discuss the Leafs trading Kessel. Anaheim, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are listed as possible cities Kessel could land.
Scott Cullen has notes on the Maple Leafs' defence, Columbus' goaltending, the top-scoring lines in hockey and money well-spent in Colorado.
THE CONSTANT GARDINER
Leave it to a three-game losing streak and an article doubting that they can maintain their strong start for controversy to find the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jake Gardiner's agent, Ben Hankinson, took to Twitter after Toronto lost 5-2 to Winnipeg Tuesday night, simply posting the hashtag #FreeJakeGardiner. This is hardly a new phenomenon on Twitter. Maybe it's unusual for it to come from the player's agent, but if anyone wants a player to get more playing time or a better opportunity than they are being afforded in their current situation, this meme has been standard fare. For example, #FreeTrevorBauer (referring to the highly-touted former Diamondbacks, current Indians, pitching prospect) got quite a bit of play in baseball circles last summer. The Diamondbacks were ultimately accomodating, apparently, dealing Bauer to Cleveland this past offseason.
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
Thorburn, however, is beloved in the Jets dressing room for his willingness to stand up for teammates. So when Orr slighted him near the end of what until then had been an honourable exchange, the rest of the Jets took notice.
With less than three minutes expired in the game, the two big men engaged.
Orr's jersey came mostly loose near the end of the scrap, leaving Thorburn at a distinct disadvantage with nothing to grab. Most often, this will signal the end of a fight and usually the linesmen will intervene to prevent injury. But Orr was allowed to keep on slugging.
Thorburn had some cross words for Orr and the linesmen but more importantly, the rest of the Jets got riled and started skating and banging and chirping. They played with purpose.
"I said what I had to say to (Orr) and I think I'll leave it at that," said Thorburn. "There's a mutual respect that we abide by. It's not like I'm the toughest guy in the world but I'll show up. Your adrenaline is running so I can understand that things happen. But, well... It is what it is."
Judge for yourself, watch the fight below...
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
This is NOT an attempt to stir up a new round of Roberto Luongo-to-Toronto rumours. Honest. Just spitballing, noodling on a scrap of paper, so everyone relax.
Just thinking, however, that nobody's fooling anybody here anymore. Vancouver, falling in the Western Conference standings, needs help at positions more than they need a backup goalie with a $5.333 cap hit. The Leafs, meanwhile, may like James Reimer, but he's not as good as Luongo and may never be.
The landscape seems ripe for a deal. Vancouver obviously has no other serious suitors. The Leafs are in a solid playoff position now but know that could slip away, and the goaltending was iffy last week.
Tyler Bozak seems to be the element that could work for Vancouver, although he's UFA in July. Otherwise, the Canucks know they're not getting a top pick or prospect for Luongo in any deal unless they include other elements. Would they move a player like Zack Kassian along with Luongo, if they could get a player like Jake Gardiner back along with Bozak?
Again, just spitballing here. That's NOT a trade rumour.
more plus other hockey notes...
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
It was Brian Burke’s words that stole the show, as the former Leafs GM took centre stage at the annual Conn Smythe Dinner in support of Easter Seals and recounted his experience as the centre of the centre of the hockey universe.
Dziurzynski was out cold for a few moments but recoved enough to be helped off the ice.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
After creating a much-needed roster spot by sending Mike Brown to Edmonton for a conditional draft pick on Monday morning, Nonis hinted that he would continue to be patient heading into the April 3 trade deadline.
"I think from where we are right now as a team we're going to try to look long term with anything we do," he said. "I wouldn't say we wouldn't make a move to try to help our chances, but primarily our focus is on trying to improve our team for the long term."
That is the same practical approach Nonis has preached since replacing Brian Burke on Jan. 9.
However, with the Leafs currently among the top eight in the Eastern Conference, the pressure is bound to mount if they remain in the hunt at the end of March. After all, Toronto owns the NHL's longest playoff drought at eight-plus years -- a major black eye on an organization that currently has a mandate to restore some pride to the sweater.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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