Ok, so let me get this straight. The Leafs signed Pogge in December 2005, haven't made the playoffs since, and he's only getting his first NHL regular season start tonight? What the hell have they been waiting for?
The Atlanta Thrashers, apparently. Oh, and the Vesa Toskala annual groin injury. The stars have aligned, now he has to take advantage. Nobody is saying he has to take the #1 job right now, but he ought to keep himself around for a while with some solid play.
Like Jeremy Williams has. Man, this kid has one hell of a shot. Have the Leafs stumbled upon a hidden gem or what? Is he on the team for good?
Tough call. It's no secret the Leafs want to get tougher and players like Williams aren't exactly making the Lucic's of the league second-guess themselves. But I think now is the time to dress as much talent as you can, show GM's what we've got, and worry about team toughness later.
So what you're saying is that Williams is better trade bait now than he was two weeks ago?
Exactly. It's not just the Leafs who are looking for young skill so my guess is Burke must be considering deals like the one Fletcher did for Stempniak. Williams is part of a logjam of smallish players on this team (including Stempniak), so chances are somebody will be traded - the Leafs will not be this slight in their top 6 come next September.
Is Williams the biggest surprise so far this year?
Not even close. For me it's Nikolai Kulemin. He's been OK from a production standpoint(13 pts), but what impresses me is the way he uses the body. He's about 18 months and 20 pounds of muscle away from being a very good power forward. There's a reason he's still up and Tlusty is down. Watch closely next game and you'll see how aggressive he can be, plus we already know he has great hands. He just needs some seasoning, but I think he might be a hidden gem.
Ok, so it's game night for the Leafs. Any predictions?
I think I'll take a page out of my Senator-Fan brethren and be way over-cocky at the slightest sign of success or whenever a player is called up (Yay, Cody Bass!!!!).
Let's call this one a 3-1 gem from Pogge.
Who gets the game winner?
We're all winners when the Leafs play. Don't be so daft.