Category Archives: Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf News and Rumors
After leaving the Toronto organization to become the assistant general manager of the Montreal Canadiens, Rick Dudley claimed the Maple Leafs, with the same roster they had last spring, would be a playoff team if they had solid goaltending.
Roberto Luongo certainly would fit that bill. And, amidst all this Luongo-to-Toronto speculation, this could very well be a case of “where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
Goaltending, is that an important question? If the answer is yes, the Toronto Maple Leafs face a very important question. And there are plenty more — first-line centre and the top-four defencemen among them — facing the team as it prepares to join the rush to training camp this week.
Toronto owns the NHL’s longest active playoff drought, having not made an appearance since before the last lockout, nine years ago. The Leafs finished 12 points out of the post-season last year, 13th overall in the Eastern Conference.
If they are to snap that run in a shortened schedule, they will have to address each of the following issues carefully, because every game will mean something.
Goaltender Roberto Luongo issued a tweet on Sunday that said: “So (what) do we do now?”
Many Toronto fans may be asking the same question after months of speculation over whether the veteran goaltender with the 12-year contract will be joining the Maple Leafs from the Vancouver Canucks for the lockout-shortened NHL season.
When the Roberto Luongo rumour mill went into full churn, promising Toronto defenceman Jake Gardiner knew who to lean on.
Who better than Luke Schenn?
Wait, a minute, Schenn did get traded.
“Sure, but it took four years,” Gardiner said. “He had rumours from the first time he got to Toronto. He had four years of it.
“I talked to him and he said, ‘Rumours are going to happen. You have to push them off. You can’t can’t ever worry about it.’”
From that point, Gardiner hasn’t, and with good reason.
Since a mid-season sag that saw him sit seven consecutive games in January, there hasn’t been a lot for Gardiner to be concerned about.
Even the rumours have been an ego stroke. The Canucks wanted him in a Luongo trade. His skating and transition game fit Vancouver’s attack like a longboard suits a hipster. The Leafs responded with their position that they can’t possibly give him up.
“I’m happy Toronto wants me, I don’t want to leave,” Gardiner said.
No NHL player can be traded during the lockout. But that doesn’t mean nobody is talking trade, or that trade rumours can’t gain life while the players are locked out.
Well, not true. At least not yet.
Yes, the Leafs remain very much interested in securing the services of Luongo, and the talks are very much alive. It’s believed Leaf GM Brian Burke and his Vancouver counterpart Mike Gillis spoke as recently as two weeks ago, at which time the Canucks demands were reduced from the bounty they requested at the draft, but not enough for the Leafs to agree to anything.
At the draft, reports indicated Vancouver asked for centre Tyler Bozak, defenceman Jake Gardiner, a first-round pick and winger Matt Frattin in exchange for the 33-year-old Luongo. The Leafs had no interest in paying that kind of price, largely because there is no significant market for the services of the veteran goaltender.
The Leafs, however, have only James Reimer on their NHL roster, and he’s a goalie in search of bounce-back season himself. So they have a definite need for quality veteran goaltending and the Canucks need to get Luongo out-of-town.
So talks have continued on and off, with Bozak as the centrepiece. Vancouver believes Bozak would be a good fit as their No. 3 centre behind Henrik Sedin and Ryan Kesler. The Leafs might be willing to pay more than Bozak, but how much more is unclear.
The most recent owner’s CBA proposal, meanwhile, may have altered the temperature of talks between the two clubs.
Luongo has 10 years remaining on a contract that comes with a cap hit of $5.33 million per season and expires in 2022. His actual salary is $6.714 million for the next six seasons, including the 2012-13 campaign, but then drops by 50 per cent in the seventh year and to $1 million in each of the final two.
The belief has long been with this contract that he’ll play for six years, then retire, taking the Canucks off the hook for the cap hit in the final four years.