Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Darren Dreger tweets,
At least 6 teams expected to talk to Bolland's agent, Anton Thun during allowed talking period. Wants to stay with Leafs. Looks unlikely.
Meanwhile, Bolland continues to make progress in rehab, rebuilding strength in leg. Expects to be 100% by camp.
As a first time ufa, Bolland wants to maximize his value, but 8 years at just under $5 mil per is likely too much for Toronto.
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
Q: Expect free agency to be pretty crazy this year?
Nonis: It is every year, I think there’s always that sprint the first 6-8 hours, and then after Day 1 it slows down a little bit. I think it will be the same. There’s some good players at free agency, there might be a few more added if there’s buyouts between now and then. It will be quick like it usually is, and then after that it’s a drawn out affair, with players trying to find their level in what their worth and teams looking for bargains at that point.
Q: Bolland. Are you still hopeful of re-signing him?
Nonis: Yeah, we’re hopeful. There’s work to do for sure. Dave is a quality guy and a good player and brings a lot of the things we want to keep with our team. There’s got to be a number that makes sense for both sides, and if there isn’t, then he can go to free agency. But we’re still in contact with Dave and our opinion of him hasn’t changed.
Q: What is this Leafs team? The team that took Boston to seven games in 2013 or the team that missed the playoffs this year?
Nonis: I think we collectively, fans, people with the team, you are too negative when things don’t go well and too positive when things do go well. I think our team is right in the mix with a number of other teams that could finish anywhere from four to 10. And that’s what we even said going into the year. We believed we had the makings of a playoff team but so did six other teams that were fighting for the same spot. We’re still a team trying to grow that needs to get deeper, we still need to get more experience. Our Marlies team is looking like they’re starting to give us some options with some players. All those things have to continue, we’re not anywhere near where we need to be. We’re happy with some of the strides we’ve taken, we’re moving in the right direction. But we have a lot of work to do.
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
Six years after leaving Toronto, Darcy Tucker is still signing autographs for the Maple Leafs.
Six years after buying him out, the Leafs have finally stopped mailing him a regular paycheque.
Tucker has been receiving a million dollars annually since then Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher decided in 2008 that the franchise wanted to go in another direction. Tucker, now 39, played eight seasons in Toronto, and the club made the playoffs in five of them (and missed by one and two points, respectively, in the two years after the 2004-05 lockout).
from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,
A brief survey of NHL execs suggests that the Florida Panthers might get off the No. 1 pick in the draft, but they won’t get off it for anything along the lines of a much-floated rumour out there: the Leafs’ No. 8 pick, plus defenceman Jake Gardiner and centre Nazem Kadri. The way the scenario goes (at least in the imagination of Leafs’ brass and ardent fans), Toronto would use the pick on Barrie defenceman Aaron Ekblad and thus have a first-pair right-hand shot at the point for a generation.
Said one senior exec: “I get the sense that [the No. 1 pick] is out there. [Pathers GM] Dale Tallon has all kinds of young players in the organization and wants to make the playoffs sooner rather than later. Still, Kadri in the package won’t get it done. JVR [LW James van Riemsdyk] might if he’s with the pick and Gardiner… or he might not. Tallon will wait it out to see what the best offer is. It’s a big one to sit tight and close on the floor but I wouldn’t rule it out.”
continue for more draft talk...
Nine different teams have lost the Stanley Cup the past nine seasons, six of them from the Eastern Conference. The opening is there as always for Leafs management. This isn’t the West. Playing catch-up in the East is not impossible.
-Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun and you can read more on why the Leafs may be closer than some people may think.
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.”
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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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