I'm Back: The Return of thatleafsguy

What is the deal people? We are less than 10 days away from the trade deadline and where are the rumors? I’ll tell you what, pay Eklund 20 bucks and see if he can make some up for you.

Where are all the legitimate rumors, everybody seems to be making stuff up these days and some are profiting off of it. But I digress…

As for the Leafs, since the All Star break it’s like a switch has gone off. These guys are playing like a team and getting contributions from different players on a nightly basis. What exactly has happened to turn this team around in such a positive direction?

Has it been the guidance and game plan of Maurice?

Has it been the handing of the number 1 goaltender status unequivocally to Raycroft by Maurice?

Has it been the power play?

Has it been the veteran or not so veteran leadership from within the dressing room?

Has it been the breaking up of Kaberle and McCabe and pairing Kabs with Kubina?

What has happened to this team to make it look far different than the team we saw previous to the all star break?

This turnaround is outstanding. When you look at the situation in the Eastern conference there are some remarkable resemblances to 2 teams from last season, the Edmonton Oilers and the Montreal Canadiens. This years Leafs team is last years Oilers team and this years Habs’ team is last years Leafs team.

The Leafs are coming up from behind in the playoff race and currently sit in 8th, much like the Oil from last year. The Habs on the other hand have plummeted, going on a prolonged losing streak and their best offensive player is a one dimensional defenseman who is ironically heading towards UFA status in the off season, Souray (aka McCabe).

Now I do realize that we still have 20 games remaining, but given the way that Toronto has played the Habs this season and has played since the all star break I cannot for the life of me see the Habs even touch the Leafs in the standings. As I sit here and write this, the Leafs currently sit at 66 points with a game in hand on the Habs who sit with 64 points and continue to spiral down into the abyss. The Leafs will have the opportunity this year to drive the final nails in the coffins of the Habs and they are licking their chops at the opportunity to do it. Revenge is sweet!

Prior to the season staring I had stated that I felt that the Leafs were good enough to finish anywhere afrom 5th to 8th in the conference, they currently are in the last playoff spot and only 5 points behind both Ottawa and Pittsburgh for 4th or 5th in the conference.

The difference with this Leaf team from past Leaf teams is that the Leafs are one of the hardest working teams in the league. Ask the Oilers and Islanders about that. Maurice has instilled a fore checking game that seems to work very well with this team. They use their size to their advantage down low. It seems as though each line has been formed to play to their strengths and advantages, something else Maurice should be given credit for.

The emergence of players like Colaiacovo, White, Pohl, Antropov, Steen, Stajan, Battaglia, Devereaux, Ponikarovsky, a resurging Jeff O’Neill, an overpaid but stable Pavel Kubina, and yes even an oft criticized hulking defenseman in Hal Gill have been huge pluses for this team. Everyone is working hard as a unit on the ice and for the most part are controlling the tempo of the game and spending a lot of time in the opposition’s end of the rink.

This Leafs team is proving most of the preseason hockey critics and media wrong and is heading right to the playoffs. The question is with this strength in team unity and chemistry will the Leafs make a major addition to their lineup come trade deadline?

Will they part with current young or old roster players to make moves that upgrade the team in certain areas?

Will they deal their future in picks and prospects for a run this year?

These will be make or break decisions for JFJ as the deadline approaches. All I can say is that a Bill Guerin, Gary Roberts or Todd Bertuzzi would look very good in a Maple Leaf uniform. The question will be would it be the right move to make for the good of the team?

15 Responses to I'm Back: The Return of thatleafsguy

  1. Gryphon says:

    True! Another thing that the Leafs and the Habs have in common is; Belfour got injured around this time last year and Huet did this year!

  2. lukeleim says:

    Gary Roberts appears to be out of the question because they're asking for too much in return. Fredrik Modin, the other player I felt Toronto would attempt to acquire, seems to be close to signing an extension with the Columbus Blue Jackets. This leaves Bill Guerin… St. Louis Blues are looking for a prospect and a first round pick in return. Trading away The Leafs first round draft pick is out of the question. Offer Brendan Bell, Aleksander Suglobov & the Leafs' secound round pick of 2007. I doubt the Blues would go for this but trading away their first round pick or a high end prospect just doesn't make sense for a rental player. 

  3. PaulK123 says:

    I think the Leafs should go after Sykora from Edmonton! They should also go after Esche from Philly, to have support for Raycroft.

    To Toronto:
    Peter Sykora

    To Edmonton:
    Brendan Bell
    2nd round draft pick

    To Toronto:
    Robert Esche

    To Philadelphia:
    J.S Aubin
    4th round draft pick (aquired from Tyson Nash trade)






     Throw Peca in there come playoff time.

  4. lukeleim says:

    The first trade is a very realistic possibility. As for your proposed line combinations; You’re missing Antropov…

    Brendan Bell & the Leafs’ 2nd round pick of 2007 to the Edmonton Oilers for Petr Sykora.

    Playoff Line Combinations

    Ponikarovsky – Sundin – Antropov
    Tucker – Wellwood – Sykora
    Steen – Stajan – O’Neill
    Kilger – Peca – Battaglia
    Devereaux – Green – Belak

    Kaberle – Kubina
    McCabe – Colaiacovo
    Gill – White


  5. mojo19 says:

    The leafs are playing well and gritty, but they aren't scoring any nice passing tic-tac-toe goals. When Wellwood gets back they should put him on Antropov's line with Sundin so we can see some nice passing.

    Antropov – Mats – Wellwood
    Steen – Stajan – O'Neil
    Tucker – Pohl  – Ponikarovski
    Battaglia – Green – Kilger

    *Devereux + Belak

    If Tucker and Wellwood come back soon do the leafs really need to make a big trade? I don't think so. Maybe Roberts, just for his presence but the leafs have a good team.

  6. 92-93 says:

    i love the optimism in this article and i hope you are right. i hope that the leafs continue to play 60 minutes and be more consistent defensively, etc.

    it looks like Maurice's systems are setting in.

    that being said, there are other teams in this conference who are totally capable of improving, turning their season around, playing better, etc.

    and for the life of me, i cannot understand how people think Montreal, NYR and even Boston and the Isles are not going to 'touch' the Leafs in the standings the rest of the way.

    lots of games left. the leafs are still making a lot of mistakes, and as much as i am enjoy watching them play, people have to stop underestimating other teams and riding on the crest of a streak  – be it losing or winning streaks.

    its not just leaf fans but other fans as well. you look at the posts on the hab forums right now and i swear some hab fans are going to take their own life and i just dont get it. THINGS CHANGE and they change quickly.

  7. bleedingblu says:

    Tell me about it.
    The Leaf rumors have been minimal this year… and quietly in the playoff running. If the Leafs make the playoffs (which they will – 6th) that will a step in the right direction for this team. What they do in the playoffs is another story but with the heart and determination this team has, I don't think they'll do too bad.

  8. DJTOKid says:

    I think Leaf fans have to be very excited with the future of the Leafs defensive core. I know lot of people were pissed off with the signings of Kubina and Gill. Well maybe not the signing of Kubina but how much they're paying him. With that said the mix of youth and vets has come together better then anybody could have predicted. Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo have been awsome and look very good for the Leafs future. Think about the fact that if they can sign these young guys for three or four years, the Leafs defnese will be set for a good portion of time.

    As for the forwards well thats were they need help, they need to start aquiring true wingers. The Leafs have fr two many natural centers who are playing the wing. They relly only have three decent wingers Tucker, Oneil, and Ponikorovsky. The rest of the line up for the most part is centers, Sundin, Wellwood, Stajan, Steen, Antropov, Peca, Pohl, and Green. Thats two teams worth of centers too go with one and a half lines of wingers. I think this is where the inconsistant play comes from.(and injuries of course)

    I would realy like to see the Leafs go after a Bertuzzi, Guerin, And/or Sykora, all of whom are natural wingers, and anyone of them could probly be had for a package including Bell and Picks. Or the Leafs could just hold fort and see what happens, save there money for free agency.

  9. bleedingblu says:

    DJTOkid, I like the way you think!
    With Edmontons recent lack of movement in the standings, I could definitely see Sykora being available for trade. Sykora did well in the begining of the season but has really slowed down as of late. Guerin would make a nice addition for the wing but Bertuzzi to me, is like having a Poni or an Anto…. but way more expensive. I don't think the Leafs need him.
    The Leafs are slowly getting better and adding Tucker and Wellwood will be a treat.

  10. DJTOKid says:

    Another great fit would be Jason Blake from the Islanders, the Leafs could really use his speed. I mean REALLY use his speed and it would give Mats a decent winger.

  11. DJTOKid says:

    Another great fit would be Jason Blake from the Islanders, the Leafs could really use his speed. I mean REALLY use his speed and it would give Mats a decent winger.

  12. goleafsgo16 says:

    I'd like to see a deal like this.

    To Toronto:

    To Edmonton:
    2nd round pick

    Smyth – Sundin – Sykora
    Steen – Wellwood – O'neill
    Ponikarovsky – Stajan – Antropov
    Kilger – Peca – Battaglia/Devereux

    I'm not sure if I would want to trade Tucker or not, hes a key player in the playoffs.

  13. mojo19 says:

    If you want a guy with speed who won't cost anything, probably just a mid-late draft pick: If were out of the Roberts bidding I say go for Geoff Sanderson. He's fast, he's okay around the net and would be a good minor addition to the team.

  14. thatleafsguy says:

    Please grow up and be realistic.

  15. Aetherial says:

    How the hell did they come up with that steaming coiler they laid on the ice last night.

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