Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf News and Rumors
Phil Kessel wants to be a Maple Leaf for life.
So says his agent, Wade Arnott, who went on Toronto radio Wednesday to say so.
“Phil (Kessel) is still a really young man,” Arnott told the SportsNet Fan590. “He really enjoys living in Toronto and playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If Nonis decides to go shopping, Jonathan Bernier of the Los Angeles Kings, Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks and Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers are names that have been part of scuttlebutt. Free agents include Brent Johnson and Ty Conklin.
#TMLtalk news: James Reimer will not return tonight due to a lower body injury
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 12, 2013
What is brewing as a much bigger story in Toronto, however, is what happens with Kessel’s contract situation and if he remains with the team long term.
The five-year deal he signed when he originally landed with the Leafs in former GM Brian Burke’s infamous trade with the Boston Bruins is set to expire on July 1, 2014, meaning Kessel can sign an extension in less than five months.
It is also believed that while Leafs GM Dave Nonis isn’t offering his top sniper around the league, he is willing to listen to offers, rumours that will only increase should Toronto fall out of the playoff race before the trade deadline in early April.
The Pittsburgh Penguins, sitting first in the Atlantic Division, could be looking to acquire another winger to play alongside Evgeni Malkin.
It’s believed the Penguins are once again taking a look at Toronto Maple Leafs forward Nikolai Kulemin.
Nonis may consider moving F Phil Kessel. Just one problem: Somebody has to be willing to take him. Not easy finding a fit because he is making $5.4 million and is one year away from being a UFA … Once the New York Islanders are officially out of the playoff picture, expect D Mark Streit to get dealt.
He could be available. But, there will be a fair amount of interest in him and he won’t come cheap.”
That was the opinion of a prominent Western Conference executive when I wondered, this week, whether Anaheim Ducks would trade potential free agent Ryan Getzlaf. Depending on the night, and the person with whom you speak, Leafs’ biggest priority is an established goalie or depth and size at centre. They may need both, though it appears James Reimer is regaining the confidence and poise he had as a rookie two seasons ago. More time is needed to confirm that, but Leafs demand for a big body up the middle is irrefutable.
Lombardi has indicated to Bernier’s camp that he will give him a chance to play elsewhere. There is a sentimental attachment here as Bernier was the first draft pick Lombardi made as Kings GM in 2006. Still with that said, Bernier is the Kings only real major asset they’re willing to part with.
Roberto Luongo threw a little gasoline on the goaltending controversy with another strong performance Wednesday night. A surprise starter, Luongo turned aside all 24 shots he faced to record his 61st NHL shutout.
He’s now played more minutes this season than Cory Schneider, who had been anointed Vancouver’s new starter last spring.
Many expect Schneider will start Friday night against the Blackhawks, who are 6-0-1 after losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday night. But many observers also thought coach Alain Vigneault would start Schneider against the Avalanche.
Vigneault wasn’t saying anything about his Friday starter after the game.
With all of the trade talk out there with Kessel and Luongo it would be interesting to see fans reaction to a possible trade that could benefit both teams. Would you be willing to do this deal? What else would have to be done to sweeten the pot?
Please comment and have your say.
There’s only one untouchable on the Maple Leafs.
The man with no name.
Not Clint Eastwood, or his empty chair.
The 2013 first-round draft choice.
It is to be protected, retained and cherished, although other teams covet it and have already started suggesting it should be included in proposed trades.
No. 1 centre is Leafs priority one – Forget about a goalie, Leafs need to find someone to feed Kessel the puck — and quick
The bottom line is this: Without a front-line centre, Kessel’s talents are being wasted. He was a 37-goal scorer last year but with a bonafide first-line centre, he might be a 50-goal scorer. Further to that, the Leafs will not take the next step in becoming a threat to go deep into the playoffs until they address the first-line centre situation.
Centre should be priority No.1 for the Leafs.
When the club was looking for a coach to replace Ron Wilson in the grim days when last season transformed itself into a lost season, NHL sources say Nonis went to bat for Dallas Eakins, then and now the coach of the AHL Marlies. Nonis and other front-office executives were of the belief that Eakins is everything a modern-era coach should be; progressive but hard-nosed, communicative with players but never friends with them. Burke, of course, insisted on his old friend Randy Carlyle.