Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mike Van Ryn sitting for the year.

According to both TSN and Sportsnet.

What this really means is that he'll rehab until February and then when the Leafs d-core has injuries he'll proclaim himself fit and join the buds.

This also means there's one less UFA d-man for Murray to sign.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Leafs could look to LA for trade opportunities.

If the rumours are true, The Kings will be the team signing Ilya Kovalchuk to an $8-$9M long term contract this coming Thursday morning. And why wouldn't they? Acquiring one of the most prolific goal scorers in the NHL without giving up assets doesn't come around often. Los Angeles are poised to rise up the Western Conference rankings and as far as a major hockey market is concerned, Kovalchuk could be the best thing since Wayne Gretzky to put LA back on the radar.

But can the kings realistically make this signing and not lose assets indirectly from this deal? Signing Kovalchuk will (according to move their cap number up into the $52M to $54M range. The salary cap this year is around $59M. The Kings would be getting close to the cap and yet only have 17 one-way contracts on their roster including Kovalchuk. Soon to be urgent will be the re-signing of Drew Doughty who will be up for an astronomical raise plus Jack Johnson isn't far behind and if they bring up Brayden Schenn this season he has a bonus structure that could fetch him upwards of $3M. Looking at the team they had last year, they are losing about $13M worth of talent this summer (Frolov, Modin etc) which will need to be replaces in some shape or form just to ice a full team come early October.

Suffice to say, LA are heading for some real problems and depending on their ambitions for this season, they may already be in the weeds. If you look at their roster it's pretty plain to see they have some anvil's as far as contracts. If you look at their prospects you'll see they have a fantastic group. The magic combination if you're the GM of a rebuilding team with some cap space. Like Brian Burke.

Would Toronto take on Ryan Smyth's mind boggling $6.25 cap hit for the next three years? Or Scuderi's $3.4M, or Hanzus's $4M for next season? I think Burke would consider it so long as LA put a package together that includes a young talent who Burke and Nonis can't live without.

Dare I dream and say Brayden Schenn playing with his brother is still not completely out of the question?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hey, somebody wants to be a Sen!

He also wants to be a Leaf.

Marc Savard has said he'll waive his no-trade clause to come to Toronto or Ottawa.

So for the Sens fans who last season said Kessel was a locker room cancer and hated by Bruins players, their best player wants to come here and play with Kessel? How do you explain that??

Secondly, I clearly am also gravely misguided. I didn't think anybody would actually choose to be an Ottawa Senator except for a salary increase.

I guess we can all be wrong.

Allegedly, of course.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Penner include Eberle

Supposedly the talks continue wrt Spezza being traded and we hear the Oil are again a possible partner. I would have rather seen Murray deal with this thing completely different from the start - say start with after the end of season meetings standing up to the media and defending his number one center, etc, etc.

But, if we have to consider trades, and with the Oilers specifically I think we are looking at a few certainties. One, the Sens want players back and will take salary in return. Two, they want a good young prospect.

I've been playing with CapGeek and would propose the following:
Spezza (7.0), Kelly (2.1)
Horcoff (5.5), Penner (4.5), and Eberle

We get a premium prospect and two top six forwards. The Oil save a million in cap space and get a number one center for Hemsky/Hall. We'd have 6.2 in cap space still for a Volchekov. I didn't put Cheechoo's salary in the calculations for Ottawa btw.

Maybe I've been reading Lowetide too much but I don't think Horcoff's contract is that bad (the Oil have simply been horrendous and he's asked to play against all the top lines). He can still play as our top center with the right linemates.


Phillips/Volchenkov(or UFA)

I'll say again - I'd prefer we didn't move Spezza but maybe that train has already left the station.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kaberle trade value up

Who will Alfredsson shoot the puck at now that this guy is retired?

If Anaheim is looking for an offensive defenceman I think I know where they can get one.

Let me just throw this idea out there...

Kaberle, Stalberg and Mitchell for Bobby Ryan and a 3rd.

Schedule released and Horton won't be a Leaf when it starts...

Sens and Leaf fans you can mark October 9th on your calendars. Leafs and Sens will play at the ACC at 7pm, their first meeting of the year.

Also, Nathan Horton was traded today to the Bruins ending rumour #1267 as far as who will be coming to the Leafs (basically everybody if you believe Eklund). Interesting package. A 1st round pick, a 3rd round pick and Dennis Wideman.

Wideman is a 30-50 point Dman. That 1st overall pick is the 15th. The 3rd round is well, the 3rd round.

When this all shakes out, has Boston paid all that much less for Horton than Burke paid for Kessel? I know, we have to wait a few years to really find out but Wideman and a 1st rounder is pretty comparable to two first rounders. Throw in the 3rd and consider Horton is no Phil Kessel and you have an argument.


Murray pulling a heavy!

I'm sure you've all read this.

The part I like this this:

"He didn't come in and say, 'I have to be traded.' He didn't object to that fact that, 'Maybe it's time. The way I've been received now and that maybe it's time that I look around.'

"I said, 'Well, unfortunately, that just doesn't happen. You've signed a long-term contract. We've committed to you. You've committed to us. We will look at everything that's going to help our hockey team, but I'm not going to make a bad trade."'

I think what Murray really means is that he won't make a bad trade again. Nice that he's learned from the Heatley thing but why didn't he stand his ground the same last year?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Strike Early!

The Flyers traded for the rights to Dan Hamhuis this morning. A player that was headed to UFA status and one I've heard a few Sens fans mention as the D-man they would like if Volchenkov leaves.

More bizarre, this trade happened only a few hours after Damien Cox wrote this story, claiming that the Leafs were interested in Hamhuis.

So how does this work exactly, this trading for pending UFA players rights? My guess, and it is only a guess, is that the Flyers would have had Nashville ask if Hamhuis wanted to be a Flyer first. Philly after all did trade Parent for a player who they could sign for nothing in less than two weeks.

Here's the question of the week then: Can anybody name a player whose rights were traded for leading up to July 1st, but that player DID NOT sign with the team that traded for them?

I'm not sure it has even happened but one of you might...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm gonna miss the Kaberle trade drama when he's gone...

This the latest from Dreger:

"Pre-draft trade speculation isn't complete without an update on Maple Leafs defenceman Tomas Kaberle and his future in Toronto.

Although teams continue to call, most are reluctant to table an offer before Kaberle's no-trade lifts at the draft, in fear Toronto will shop the proposal for a better offer.

As many as eight teams are expected to engage with Toronto, however, at the moment; teams are still trying to piece together what, or who, is legitimately available".

Smart move by other GM's. They clearly respect his ability to get a better deal back.

How does this one sit with Ottawa fans?

It's a rumour from you-know-who, but I thought the package was interesting:

"I talked to an Ottawa source and was told that yes, Spezza would welcome becoming an Edmonton Oiler.

The asking or price would be either Cogliano or Gagner, 2 prospects, (one who will be in the NHL for sure this season) and a third or fourth".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Phaneuf speech

An announcer on the Team1200 likened his delivery to this guy. Pretty close. I was expecting Dion to break out the Piano Man though.

April flowers bring June optimism?

Kessel yesterday telling the world he can score 40 goals this upcoming season.

Looks like Phaneuf's cockiness is already spreading through the team.

Tell ya what Phil, score 32 goals but play well in your own end and help this team make the playoffs and I think we'll all be quite content.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Phaneuf Captain - New Jerseys kind of sweet.

Phaneuf to be named Captain today.

He will be the 18th in the club's history which started with Bert Corbeau in 1927.

While Phaneuf being granted the "C" will come as news only to those just blinkingly emerging a coma, it's still an occasion for the franchise.

When Phaneuf was traded to Toronto his outgoing media scrum in Calgary didn't exactly warm the hearts of Leaf fans. He seemed shocked, visibly upset and not at all excited to be coming to one of the worst teams in the NHL. I remember seeing him speak in Calgary somewhere in the bowels of the Saddledome and wondering to myself if this guy even wanted to report to his new team.

By the time he arrived in Toronto his tune had changed. The remorse and shock he has expressed only hours earlier was replaced by optimism and excitement. While never jovial in front of those bearing press passes, there was a certain tone in his voice that suggested his mourning period lasted the 4 or so hour flight. He was ready to be a Leaf.

What happened in the next 24 hours, in my mind, put Dion as the frontrunner for the captaincy. You all read the story about how Dion walked into the dressing room and asked who was in charge of music. It was a matter of minutes before that role was his. Then, in his first game Phaneuf made perhaps his boldest statement, stepping onto the ice and laying two large hits before handily winning his first fight as a Maple Leaf on the same night. Throw in a few booming shots and his voice heard above all others on the bench and that this day has arrived should not be surprising.

The biggest question after this announcement is made will of course be this: Can Dion lead this team to a Stanley Cup? Here are the players who have captained this team since 1967 in no particular order: Wendel Clarke, Darryl Sittler, Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Keon, Rob Ramage and Rick Vaive.

Leafs fans hope so. Sens fans hope not.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

While we all focus on Heatley...

The guy he was traded for is partying with the Stanley Cup today. Not that I'm a big fan of Hossa but he has a ring... not so shabby.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Leafs have contract problems of their own...

Comparatively, the contract impasse now brewing between the Maple Leafs and Nikolai Kulemin will not have the impact on the franchise that the Sens/Spezza drama will. No matter which way this thing goes.

But, for the first time since Burke took over as GM of the team there appears to be trouble between him and a player agent. Kulemin's agent's side of the story goes something like this: My player was your 1st line winger and he should be paid accordingly. Burke's argument is: He was a 1st line winger by default and lets not forget he has yet to hit 40 points in an NHL season.

Kulemin had 16 goals and 20 assists last season in 78 games.

This is a strange position to be in for a Leafs fan. Anybody who watched Nik play last year saw that this guy has all the makings of an impact player. I stop short of "star potential", because while playing on the top 1 or 2 lines on any NHL team is one hell of a feat and an exclusive club indeed, Kulemin only showed flashes of star material with a few highlight reel goals and some incredible work in his own end of the ice that may some day translate into playoff heroics if he's given the chance. But as of right now, the safe money is that he becomes a very valuable 2nd line player who could crack 25 goals if all goes exceptionally in his favour. I could see him on the 3rd line once this team is fully designed and ready to compete for a cup. You simply can't afford to overvalue this guy right now if you're Brian Burke.

I'm not sure what kind of money Kulemin and his agent are asking for. Grabovski signed a contract for $2.9M last summer and perhaps Kulemin is looking for something closer to that figure instead of the rumoured $1.8M that seems to be flying around the blogs as the figure Burke is offering. Thing is, Grabovski was injured a good part of last season and in almost 20 fewer games he scored as many points as Kulemin give or take. That's playing on the 2nd and sometimes 3rd line, it should be noted. While I think most Leaf fans would value Kulemin about the same as Grabs, statistically Grabovski has contributed more to the cause.

One could also look at Gustavsson's contract as a signpost. Sure, it's hard to compare goalies and skaters as far as compensation, but Gustavsson was for some stretches the #1 goalie on this team and while he may or may not be that #1 guy down the road, right now that is the plan for him. Yet, he signs a $1.35M/per year deal based on what he's actually accomplished.

One wonders if this thing is going to get uglier before it is resolved? Kulemin is a restricted free agent which means arbitration is an avenue he and his agent can explore but can anybody see an arbitrator rewarding 36 points with any more money than he's making right now - about $1.5M with bonuses? There is of course the KHL which is always a threat when it comes to European players and especially a Russian like Kulemin who has represented his country 5 times internationally. But how much of a threat is it, really? The allure of the KHL for NHL players is dropping faster than public opinion in Ottawa about Jason Spezza. Of course Burke could also change lanes completely and package this kid out in a trade or wait for the possibility of an offer sheet from another team.

I don't envy Burke right now. He's in a tough position and frankly he caused this mess. In his year-end media scrum he called out Kulemin as being one of the teams best and most consistent forwards and applauded his physical play and work in his own end. Yet here he is a few months later negotiating with Kulemin based not on intangibles or hard work or potential but based on his goals and assists. I'm sure Burke would like to keep a player like Kulemin around but he also has to manage his future cap spare. Every $$$ extra in cap space he can save now is going to come in handy when the Leafs need to bolster a competitive line-up with UFA's. Thing is, he needs to think about these things before he talks up a player like he did with Kulemin. It's nice to reward your hard-working players with great reviews, but be prepared for them to expect pay increases that match the praise.

Stay tuned...

Friday, June 04, 2010


Milks with a passionate take on the Spezza 'situation'. It is a situation now I guess.

Nicks channels Alfie.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Burke has two trade offers for Kaberle.

That was an incredible playoff game last night wasn't it? Truculence and tenacity every shift, the character guys making all the difference while the skill guys attacked and the goalies made great saves.

How fitting that Burke was on the radio today talking about his new assistant GM and answering questions about his immediate plans for a hockey club that he intends to build very much like the two teams now in the finals. Give or take a few superstar forwards, of course.

Mostly he talked about Kaberle.

Now, nobody thinks Kaberle is going to fetch a Toews or Kane and help Toronto become the Hawks overnight, but Burke did confirm there are two teams who have given him a rough idea of who they might send over for Thomas as a starting point in discussions. That's basically all Burke would say. He then followed that up with his now very well-rehearsed speech that only a great deal will do the trick and that they would be more than happy to keep him... but does anybody really believe that anymore?

Lets face the facts here though. Kaberle is gone if a good deal comes along. And while the dream of a blow-the-doors-off return has probably passed as the odometer on Kaberle's contract has clicked down to a single season remaining on it, Burke may still get himself a solid 25-goal power forward if another team decides that their blue line is only complete with a guy like Kaberle on it.

It will be interesting to see what kinds of deals present themselves once teams sign their pending UFA's and RFA's and all the cap issues teams annually face come boiling to the surface. It's here that the best opportunity for Toronto to get a special player back for Kaberle probably lies, although it might take more than just Kaberle to get something substantial done. While Toronto don't have a crop of sure-fire star prospects coming up the pipeline, there are some very interesting players that other teams might have a bit of a liking for and before you know it Toronto has a player we can all get excited about.