Sports by Randy Charles Morin.
Copyright 2005-10 Randy Charles Morin
Owned by Rapid Spiral Development Inc.
|James Van Riemsdyk||Tyler Bozak||Phil Kessel|
|Mason Raymond||Nazam Kadri||Joffrey Lupul|
|Nikolai Kulemin||Dave Bolland||Carter Ashton|
|Jay McClement||Colton Orr|
|Frazer McLaren||David Clarkson|
|Carl Gunnarson||Dion Phaneuf|
|Paul Ranger||Jake Gardiner|
|Morgan Rielly||Cody Franson|
David Clarkson is suspended for 10 games. I'm guessing that Lupul will move back to LW, Raymond down to 3rd line and Kulemin back to RW when Clarkson returns as the 2nd line RW.
McLaren currently has a broken finger. McLaren will slot in on the 4th line when he returns.
Assuming he clears waivers, John Michael Liles can be called up at any time when he fits into the salary cap. If Rielly is sent down to juniors, then Liles fits in. If Ashton Cater is sent down, then Liles fits in, but they would be carrying 8 d-men. If Ranger is sent down, then Liles fits in.
Update: I don't understand why you would keep Ranger over Liles. I assume, if Liles is claimed, then the Leafs bring up one more forward. Otherwise, Liles is kept on the team and Ranger is sent down.
On the other hand, with Toews and Kane, they'll be competitive for years to come. Better than the Leafs or Isles or Canes.
If you were Brian Burke, then what would you do in the off-season? Here's my take.
I'd be tempted to buy-out Blake and Finger, but I wouldn't. The Leafs aren't going to win the Stanley Cup next year and every year we keep either player removes two years from their salary impacting the Leafs cap. Tucker's salary cap hit for buying him out last year was $1M this year and will be $1M for the next 5 years. I don't want that mistake repeated. I wouldn't buy anybody out. It's a short-term fix and we need long-term solutions.
The biggest problem is in goal. Toskala has one year left on his contract and I think he's worth the $4M. Let's keep him as our backup or part of a 1-2 tandem and maybe we can trade him at the deadline.
The Leafs should focus on signing the best free-agent goalie they can. Tim Thomas? Khabibulin? Craig Anderson? Martin Biron? That's a pretty good list. I wouldn't trade for a starting goalie unless it was a steal. Why trade what you can sign for free? Martin Gerber is another free-agent option, but I'd give him 1 year max. I wouldn't give anybody a no-trade clause.
I wouldn't put much stock in Justin Pogge anymore. Let's leave him with the Marlies for now and test him again in 2010, unless he pulls off a miracle in the AHL playoffs. That would change everything.
Set ($19M). Kubina, Kaberle, White, Finger, Schenn, Van Ryn are the starting six. Frogen is the 7th. Stralman could fill-in for injuries and I might even give him a shot at making the club.
BTW, if we give $6M to a 2nd goaltender, then we are already at $29M and $29M for an NHL defense is rather high, especially for one that isn't all that good.
Returning fowards ($16M); Blake, Hagman, Ponikarovsky, Stempniak, Stajan and Kulemin. We'll have to resign Grabovski for about $1.5M. I would keep Jamal Mayers and John Mitchell as fourth liners and 13th forwards with the club or with the Marlies. I wouldn't be afraid to lose either on waivers either. I'd also give Jeremy Williams and Jiri Tlusty shots at making the big club next season.
This leaves us 4 forward positions to fill. One of these will be filled by our first round draft pick. The Leafs should get a high pick and most of the talent is at center. I would do everything to move up in this draft, as the talent is thick. Tavares, Hedman and Duchesne are the prizes. It might be difficult to trade up and get Tavares. Both Hedman and Duchesne might be available for a reasonable price.
Now we have 3 forward positions left to fill. I really like Andre Deveaux and we can have him for minimum. The Leafs need a right-handed centerman that can win faceoffs (Dominik Moore $1.5M?). This leaves us a little bit of room to pick up a free-agent forward to fill out the lineup with a tough guy that can play.
Sign Ponikarovsky to an 2-yr extension at $3-3.5M. Sign Stajan to a 1-yr extension at $2M. They are unrestricted at the end of 2009-10.
Still not a great team. If we re-signed Gerber to a $1.5M deal instead of going for a #1 goalie, then we'd have salary room to go after a premier forward, but I think you build from the net out.
We paid 15 dollars to take a taxi to the game. The taxi was 30 minutes late, so we arrived only 20 minutes before the game, which is late for us.
The Ducks were killed in the first 10 minutes and saved by their goaltender, Hiller. The Ducks took a two goal lead on bad giveaways. The Canucks tied it in one minute. The Ducks took another lead. The Ducks appeared to take a 4-2 lead, but the refs called a phantom goalie interference penalty.
The concessions ran out of cotton candy, Firestone beer and possibly other stuff, causing extreme lines. I wanted one of their 1/2 pound dogs, but gave up after sitting second in line for 5 minutes.
The Canucks scored and put the game into overtime. In overtime, Scott Niedermayer won it on a partial break. Great game.
We went to JT Schmid's after the game. They had a great stout beer.
I thought it'd be interesting to list my 20 NHL all-stars for this season.
Sabres vs. Islanders
This will likely be a walk, since the Sabres are healthy and had good playoff experience last season. With DiPietro coming back off injury and not having played in a couple weeks, he might be stale for the first game. He is the key to the series. If he doesn't play his best hockey for six games, then the Islanders will be in trouble. The Islander push for the playoff was impressive, but nobody expect them to win and I think they've already hit their goal, just getting into the playoffs.
Devils vs. Lightning
This series should prove what is more valuable. Great scorers or a great goalie. The Devils would not have made the playoffs without Brodeur and the Lightning would not have made the playoffs without Lecavalier and St. Louis. My money is on the Devils, mostly because of the massive goaltending advantage. Holmqvist is by far the worst starting goaltender in this year's playoff and Brodeur is the best. But, with the recent problems in the Devils organization, I wouldn't preclude an upset. The key to this series is behind the bench. Will the Devils play for Lamoriello after he fired their coach?
Goaltending: +2 Devils
Offense: +2 Lightning
Thrasher vs. Rangers
This is looking like an upset. The Thrashers are new the playoffs and that usually means bad things. On the other hand, the Trashers have a scary defense and great scoring. Even if the Rangers win, they'll get beat up. Avery is the wild card in this series. He could lose it with the stupidity he's known for or he could play rough but smart and even up the Thrasher's physical advantage.
Senators vs. Penguins
The Penguins are the team of the future, but the Senators could be the team of 2007. The Senators are prime for a good playoff. They've changed the team. Brought in players that have performed in big tournaments (Heatley). Like the Trasher series, 1st year playoff teams like Pittsburgh often don't play up to playoff speed. The key to this series will be Crosby. Duh!? He could just want to win now and it'll happen.
Getting close to the trading deadline, it looks like the Leafs are on the bubble again. I'd prefer the Leafs build for tomorrow, then this year's playoffs which might not even happen.
David Shoalts: Ferguson let it be known that he signed veteran goaltender Jean-Sébastien Aubin to a one-year contract. While the contract is just for one year and comes with only a modest raise to $525,000 (U.S.) from Aubin's current annual stipend of $500,000, the big attraction is that it is a one-way deal.
Randy: That means Aubin will make his half-million whether he plays for the Leafs or the Marlies. If any team in the NHL could pay there AHL goalies a half-million, it would be the Leafs. This might mean the Leafs are prepared to go with Aubin and Tellqvist to start next season, which would open up the bank to sign a forward or defenseman.
This is the first game in awhile that I'll be blogging. By the time, I returned from my vacation, the Leafs were pretty much out of the playoffs. J.S. Aubin has been great and it shows one thing. They can win, when their goaltending doesn't suck. The Leafs haven't played better of late. Their goaltender has played better of late. Too bad it's too late.
Let's examine the game to date. Belfour isn't in net. That's the difference. The only difference. It's goaltending. It's important.
And Elias has a hat trick tonight. He'll turn 30 in 7-days and is an unrestricted free-agent at the end of the season. I think he's the best money-value unrestricted free-agent available.
CP: The Washington Capitals signed goaltender Olaf Kolzig to a $10.9 million US, two-year contract extension Saturday.
Randy: I was really hoping the Leafs would trade Belfour and something for Kolzig. Oh well, maybe Theodore is the cheaper prize now.
The Onion: Less than six months since players returned from a yearlong lockout, hockey is once again in turmoil following last week's announcement that "goaltending," or attempting to obstruct a shot on goal or impede the puck's progress with one's body or stick, would become a two-minute minor penalty, a rule change that went into effect Monday. "Increasing scoring with rule changes and cracking down on obstruction is one thing," said Phoenix Coyotes goaltender Curtis Joseph, who claims his job is being banned by the league. "But to take a page from the NBA and just outlaw goaltending outright… Maybe it's just me, but I think that rule just plain goes against the spirit of hockey." Veteran NHL centers, forwards, and some defensemen took issue with Joseph's remarks, claiming he was still angry over being penalized seven times in the Coyotes' Monday night game against Dallas, in which Joseph had zero saves and lost 88-105.