Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf News and Rumors
The Top 5 players the Maple Leafs could pick in the draft:
1. Mikhail Grigorenko
Centre, Quebec Remparts QMJHL
If there is one kid who could fall from the four names kept atop most draft lists all year it’s this 6-foot-3 enigma. The Leafs would have to decide between upgrading at forward, specifically centre, where they obviously need help, or adding another defencemen, which they have in abundance in their system.
2. Filip Forsberg
Right wing, Leksand SEL
No relation to Peter Forsberg and says he’s not likely ready contractually or mentally for North America until 2013-14. But he might be the right fit, one spot higher than his famous namesake in 1991.
3. Matthew Dumba
Defenceman, Red Deer Rebels, WHL
Yes, the Leafs are thick in defencemen, including another former Red Deer rearguard in Dion Phaneuf. That doesn’t mean they can’t pick another, hang on to him, then make a trade for a goalie or forward to maximize assets.
4. Jacob Trouba
Defenceman, US Development Team
Trouba has come up the rankings, despite a relatively quiet world junior tournament for the U.S. But he’s another defender who likes the heavy going, despite his still-developing body. He’s committed to the University of Michigan, but the Kitchener Rangers own his OHL rights.
5. Radek Faksa
Centre, Kitchener Rangers
If defencemen aren’t in the Leafs plan, Toronto’s search for an impact forward might lead to Faksa. He had 67 points in 62 games with Kitchener last year. He is a centre and does have some jam, especially as a checker.
The Leafs are expected to be near the front of the line if former Anaheim Duck first-rounder Justin Schultz becomes a free agent in a couple of weeks.
Schultz, a big defenceman with 44 points in 37 games, is leaving the University of Wisconsin a year early to play pro. But he’s thus far not signed with the Ducks, who could lose him if a deal is not reached by June 24. After that, a number of teams are in the picture, his home province Vancouver Canucks, the needy Detroit Red Wings, the Rangers, Oilers and the Leafs.
Toronto’s connection is that Burke drafted him just prior to leaving the Ducks in 2008, 43rd overall, the round after another Wisconsin defenceman Jake Gardiner. Anaheim was so anxious to get Schultz signed, it was reportedly prepared to burn a year of his entry-level contract just to play him in the final few games of the regular season. The Ducks might also work a trade for his rights before the 24th.
The world of goaltending options is closing in on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With Tomas Vokoun signed in Pittsburgh and Anders Lindback acquired by Tampa Bay, the list of available quality goalies has shrunk by two. And while there are many teams interested in inquiring about Los Angeles backup Jonathan Bernier, at this time the Kings prefer to maintain the status quo with Jonathan Quick as starter and Bernier behind him.
The pro-active trade Steve Yzerman made for Nashville’s Lindback hurts the Leafs in two different ways: 1) It removes a goalie they should have had interest in from the marketplace; 2) It provides one of their opponents in the Eastern Conference with potentially better goaltending than it has had in the past (and you know the Lightning, with Steven Stamkos, can score goals).
With Vokoun and Lindback scratched from the list of the available and the Kings’ Dean Lombardi saying “having only one quarterback is dangerous,” that leaves Roberto Luongo as their best goaltending option moving forward to this week’s NHL draft and trade meet. The good news with Luongo is it won’t cost much to get him. The bad news is it’s a long-term solution for the Leafs and if they still believe in James Reimer and, to a lesser extent, Ben Scrivens, then it isn’t an ideal situation for the development of a youngster.
While there are still run-of-the-mill free agents available such as Josh Harding, Scott Clemmensen and Chris Mason, there is nothing that would excite Maple Leafs fans here. Luongo remains the most viable option — and that’s not without its pitfalls.
Luongo to Where?
Where will Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo be playing hockey next season? Obviously he’ll need to be moved if the team wants to move forward with Cory Schneider. Tampa bay GM Steve Yzerman has denied interest but sources tell me they aren’t necessarily buying it. Many feel his quick denial is an attempt to deflate the market for the All-Star goaltender.
Multiple people tell me they don’t believe Canucks GM Mike Gillis has interest in moving Luongo to Toronto and seeing him playing on Hockey Night in Canada every Saturday night. He wouldn’t want to have that thrown in his face every weekend especially if Luongo is having success. It’s much easier to hide him in a U.S. market.
We saw this years ago with Edmonton and Toronto before Chris Pronger was dealt to Anaheim. The offer then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe received from Toronto was actually better than the one he accepted from Anaheim. Lowe apparently would rather accept less than move him to the Maple Leafs where the Chris Pronger show would air every Saturday night.
We’ve seen exceptions most recently with Calgary shipping Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.
Expensive accomplished players like Patrick Kane, Nash, Jay Bouwmeester and Roberto Luongo are possibly available for trade. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise appear set to leave Nashville and New Jersey respectively as free agents. Teams are getting set to make moves lockout or no lockout ahead.
Which brings us to the Maple Leafs.
It’s an intriguing time for GM Brian Burke and his staff as they contemplate the future. The expectation among many is that Burke is plotting aggressive ways of making sure the Leafs don’t miss post-season play again next season eyeing a veteran goaltender (Luongo?) in search of quality veterans to bolster Dion Phaneuf and the leadership group in the Toronto dressing room and searching for ways to get the No. 1 pick in next week’s draft.
There’s just not enough there yet even with some promising players with the Marlies to start aggressively thinking short-term like the Kings.
The likeliest scenario then is for something in between:
• A play for Luongo that might cost one good prospect.
• A mid-range NHL free agent.
• An aggressive bid for unsigned Anaheim blueline prospect Justin Schultz.
• No deal for Nash who may have scratched Toronto from his list of preferred destinations anyway.
• No move up from No. 5 in the draft and therefore ending up with a blue-chip youngster who will be back in junior or Europe next season.
The message? Staying the course no short-term fixes or at least none involving players who can only help for one or two years. Luongo, maybe, because he’s a long-term solution in the crease.
It would be a statement that the Leafs aren’t yet in the prospect-rich position L.A. was last summer but also that they believe enough in what they have put in place — Phaneuf as captain, Phil Kessel as the centrepiece up front — that a goaltending upgrade would make everything look better.
The market for Columbus Blue Jackets winger Rich Nash is heating up ahead of next week’s NHL Draft.
According to the Columbus Dispatch, as many as seven teams have had ‘significant discussions’ with the club in the last 10 days about acquiring Nash.
The report adds that the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Carolina Hurricanes are among the teams that have expressed interest.
Blue Jackets’ general manager Scott Howson said that the club had, “significantly more discussions this week,” but would not comment directly on the most recent trade talks regarding the team captain.
It is rumoured that Matt Lashoff, Ryan Parent, and Mark Katic will be signing with Berlin
Brian Burke’s disputes with the Mother Corp just don’t seem to be going away.
The Maple Leaf president/GM was furious on Monday over a Hockey Night in Canada report that suggested there are “rumblings” throughout the NHL that Burke is prepared to trade defenceman Luke Schenn to the Edmonton Oilers for the No. 1 overall pick in this month’s entry draft.
“Typical of Hockey Night,” said Burke. “I have never discussed this trade or any trade involving Luke Schenn to Edmonton.”
The report was part of HNIC reporter Elliotte Friedman’s popular “30 Thoughts” blog on various goings-on around the NHL. Friedman said he doubted the deal would happen, but added that “many teams” think Schenn will be a better player outside of Toronto.
“There are rumblings that Toronto will offer Luke Schenn to Edmonton for a swap of first rounders,” wrote Friedman. “No doubt Brian Burke would like to make a huge draft splash. He loves the big stage. And I do believe the Oilers like Schenn and have discussed his availability before. But I just can’t see it happening for the first overall selection.”
The Toronto Maple Leafs are rumoured to be shopping defenceman Luke Schenn to the Edmonton Oilers as part of a deal where both teams would swap 1st-round draft picks in this month’s NHL Draft, according to Elliotte Friedman of CBC Sports.
The trade would allow the Maple Leafs to move up and select consensus first overall selection Nail Yakupov, a 5′ 11” right wing from the Sarnia Sting. In 79 games this season, Schenn matched a career high with 22 points and posted a plus-minus rating of -6. He will entering the second season of a five-year contract worth $18 million. Meanwhile, Yakupov tallied 270 points in 107 games over the past 2 seasons in the OHL.
Among the most troubling aspect of the Brian Burke rumours: They are being avidly spread by people he would consider friends and professional colleagues … Apparently, the Maple Leafs want to move up in the draft and Edmonton may want to move its No. 1 pick. A deal, one that could involve Luke Schenn, is not out of the question here. There’s also been talk that Montreal’s new management crew would like to move out of the No. 3 pick, which is an old Rick Dudley trick, and drop back, pick another player, and cash in on the early choice with an additional asset … Would any other team in the NHL come down to a choice between Michel Therrien and Marc Crawford for its head coaching position? Really, two guys coming off unsuccessful runs: has it become that desperate for Les Canadiens? … Television doesn’t show Darryl Sutter at his best. The better you know him, the more you realize what a sensible, grounded, funny, man he is. But about that Dion Phaneuf trade?
Never mind … Sutter, by the way, was slightly troubled/embarrassed by what sat behind him in Game 4 in Los Angeles. The porn lady may have been behind Peter DeBoer, trying to throw off the New Jersey Devils, but Sutter was hoping no TV cameras would close in on him, where a guy dressed up as a woman (for attention only) was flashing behind him. “Someone,” he said, “should have kicked that guy out.” … Devils assistant coach Larry Robinson has been putting on a line-changing clinic with his defence corps in the Stanley Cup Final. And because he’s Larry Robinson, he gets away with more than he should when he doesn’t have last change.
Luongo’s stock skyrockets after Penguins snap-up Vokoun
Vancouver Canucks GM Mike Gillis took a couple of days off this weekend to go fishing and clear his head for the decision-making process which is about to begin in earnest over the next couple of days. And while he did that, he and his team got lucky.
At least that’s the way it would appear to anyone watching the goaltending situation.
With the Pittsburgh Penguins snaring of Tomas Vokoun from Washington to back up Marc-Andre Fleury for the next two seasons Monday, and Tim Thomas announcing he was going to sit out next season, the chances of improving the return on any Roberto Luongo deal just took a significant leap forward.
Pens GM Ray Shero seemed to catch others who would have liked to consider Vokoun for their own organizations napping with his pre-July 1 strike, giving up just a seventh-round draft pick to leave teams like Toronto, Chicago and Tampa with their pants at half mast. And assuming Thomas does indeed wish to step away from the game as he says, this leaves the number of experienced available goaltenders depleted by two pretty good players.
The Leafs didn’t sign Tomas Vokoun for goaltending insurance. Pittsburgh traded for his rights from Washington and then signed him to be Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup next season. That means Brent Johnson, a UFA on July 1, will be moving on.
It’s the kind of move many believe the Leafs will be making to add some veteran goaltending insurance to their roster. Vokoun, at 35, is not the perfect guy — he was injured, then lost his job in Washington to Braden Holtby — but he was one possibility. The Leafs, in fact, looked at him last summer but were disinclined to offer a two-year contract.
There are quite a few other UFA goalies coming on the market. The best for the Leafs might be Scott Clemmensen, who they’ve had before and played very well for Florida both this year and in the playoffs. Clemmensen is a solid citizen who might be the perfect and very affordable stabilizing element while the Leafs continue to evaluate the progress of Scrivens and James Reimer. A similar choice might be Johan Hedberg of the Devils, although he’s 39 while Clemmensen is 34.
That, of course, is one of the issues at hand if the Leafs were to try and swing a deal for Roberto Luongo. They’d essentially be writing off the futures of Reimer and Scrivens as possible starting goalies because Luongo would take the position for at least the next five years.
It took until last week, four-plus months into the season, but the Maple Leafs finally had their projected A-list roster on the ice last week when Colby Armstrong and John-Michael Liles made it into the lineup. Now we’ll see what GM Brian Burke can pick off prior to the deadline to avoid the franchise’s seventh straight DNQ. Keep in mind, he has added skilled forwards (Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul) and a Robocop defenseman (Dion Phaneuf). The missing piece is the power forward. Which probably makes Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan No. 1 on Burke’s checklist. And maybe Corey Perry No. 1A.