Thursday, November 26, 2009

Joey MacDonald

Joey MacDonald's NHL career numbers:
17 37 0
1 216
3.31 3,918

So everyone was probably at least a little surprised when they had heard that the Leafs had signed Joey Mac after landing the monster. Toskala was slated to be the number one so why would we get another goalie? Well Joey Mac has benefited us so much already, even though his record is 0-3 he had stepped up big time for the Marlies and has been recalled to Toronto a few times already due to some injury problems with Vesa Toskala. MacDonald a native of Pictou Nova Scotia, has played for a few teams in the league already. They include the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and of course our Toronto Maple Leafs. He had a career high in wins and games played last year for the last placed Islanders. In the off-season he signed a 1 year deal worth $650,000. This has been an under rated signing by GM Brian Burke due to the games MacDonald has either played in or backed up Jonas Gustavsson. MacDonald is not a big name in the NHL and has flown under the radar thus far in his career, but playing in Toronto can allow him to get his name out there and if he plays okay on a bad Toronto team, one team in the league may be willing to sign MacDonald to a multi-year deal. It may only be as a back up, but at least he can try and earn a spot as a number 1.

That is all for my blogs thanks for reading,


Niklas Hagman

Alright so Niklas Hagman has been on a tear this year so far since being let out of Ron Wilson's dog house. He has had a couple of 2 goal games recently and even had a hat trick against Anaheim, when Toronto won it's first game of the year. Hagman was signed as a free agent 2 years ago after scoring 27 goals in Dallas. Everyone thought Hagman just had a fluke year. Hagman spent last year and so far this season proving his doubters wrong. Hagman scored 22 goals last year in just 65 games had Hagman played in all 82 games last year he would have surpassed the 30 goal mark for the first time in his career. Hagman has played in 22 games this year and is on pace for 40 goals, he has scored 11 goals so far this year. His play has improved since being publicly ripped by Leafs coach Ron Wilson. Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has recently received trade offers for Hagman. Burke has said 5 teams have expressed interest in Hagman, but only 3 have table acceptable offers. Burke hasn't budged on his method saying that he will have to be blown away in order for a team to take Hagman from the Leafs.

Hagman has 2 years left on his contract at 3 million a year and is a steal at that price especially if he continues to put up 30 and 40 goal seasons.

Next up is my final blog for school I will talk about Joey MacDonald.

Leafs, Tampa Bay

I forgot to mention in the last blog that Vesa Toskala has reinjured his groin, and that is what is believed to have lead to the 3rd goal by New York Monday night.

So the Leafs pulled out a win against Tampa Bay last night, with help all over the board. That was Tampa's 1st loss on home ice in regulation this season. Hagman scored twice, continuing his red hot play, he now has scored 5 goals in 3 games. Gunnarsson had 3 assists and Beauchemin made a great diving play to break up a Ryan Malone breakaway when the game was still tied at 3. Jonas Gustavsson held down the fort for a 4-3 win.

The leafs jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead that disappeared in 30 seconds. The Leafs scored again to make it 3-2, but again they blew the lead and it was all tied up, Until late in the 2nd when Matt Stajan busted free and picked top corner on Niittymaki. It was a beauty. From there the Leafs shut down the Lightning. The Leafs hit quite a few posts last night if half had of gone in they would've won by at least 4.

Next up for the Leafs is Florida on Friday.

For my next blog I will be talking about Niklas Hagman.

Leafs, Islanders

Alright another disappointing loss for the buds.

They showed some great poise though after coming back from a 3 goal deficit. Goals by Kessel, Premeau and a beauty by Hagman that made the Islanders defence look like they were taking a nap (not hard to do).

The Leafs ending up losing 4-3 in a OT, but it wasn't for a lack of trying. They hammered Islanders goalie Dwayne Rolston with a franchise tying 61 shots on net. By all means the Leafs had done enough to win the game. Toskala let in 3 goals on 3 shots in the second was pulled in favor for rookie goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who came in and shut the door.

Gustavsson only allowed 1 goal and took the loss of the hands of Toskala for a second time this year. Too Gustavsson's credit he had no chance on the Game winner, which happened courtesy brutal defensive coverage by Phil Kessel who not only made Gustavsson bad but also defence men Ian White who has been on of Toronto's best defence men and one of the few bright spots this year. Many have blamed White for the goal because he couldn't block the pass across the crease, but any real hockey fan knows that if Kessel wasn't standing still Bruno Gervais wouldn't have beat him to the puck.

John Tavares didn't do to much in the game on the score sheet but showed off his passing ability a few times in the game.

I hate to say I told you so but in the previous blog I mentioned that Josh Bailey was on a hot streak and he ended up scoring the game winner in OT. Also I said Hagman for the Leafs and he scored the goal that tied it up at 3.

Next up for the Leafs is Tampa Bay, I'll have the post game blog for my next blog.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Leafs vs Islanders Preview

John Tavares is coming to Toronto for the first time in his NHL career. Toronto fans were salivating last year at the chance of getting Tavares with the 1st overall selection in the draft, but the Leafs ended up finishing 6 spots better than the Islanders and got the 7th overall selection. They of course choose Tavares London teammate Nazem Kadri.

Tomorrow night should be interesting, Wilson has chose to ride his hotter goalie this season and with Vesa Toskala's impressive start against the Capitals last night you have to think he will get the start again tomorrow night. By all means the Leafs stand a good chance of beating the Isles but they will have to get a good turn out by who ever is in the twine.

The Leafs won 3 of 4 meetings last year between these two teams. The Isles are 8-8-7 this year and are enjoying the team leading 19 points that rookie sensation John Tavares has contributed to the team. Another surprise for the Islanders has been free agent signing Matt Moulson who is 1 point off of Tavares on the year.

Look for ex-Islander Jason Blake to play a solid game as he usually steps his game up a little bit when he plays his former team. The Leafs will look to to stop a nasty trend they have fallen into for most of the season, that is to not give up the first goal of the game, something they have done in 18 of its 21 games so far this year.

Who's Hot:
Josh Bailey for the Islanders has scored in 2 straight games and will look to keep that pace up against the Leafs. For the Leafs Niklas Hagman scored last game and scored again when he potted the shootout winner.

For the Leafs, Mike Komisarek is still out with an torn quad muscle. Mike Van Ryn is out of course because of his knee.
For the Islanders, Rick Dipietro is still out at least another 2-4 weeks, he is trying to make his way back from knee and hip surgery. While Isles captain Doug Weight is out with an upper body injury, and Radek Martinek is out with a torn ACL.

We will have to wait and see how the Leafs do against the Isles tomorrow night and how John Tavares does in his return home. Tavares will have over 100 friends and family in attendance at the Air Canada Centre.

I am predicting a Leafs win, by a score of 4-2. Tavares will score and Ponikarovsky will score for Toronto.

In my next blog I will surprise you. It's a surprise, so click on the link tomorrow to see what I decide to talk about.

UFC 106 Review

Okay, for those of us that watched the free prelims on SPIKE TV we got to see 2 fights over again, Lucky us.

Overall UFC106 was a decent event, the fights were entertaining and there was controversy yet again, at least this time not from the judges.

Let's see how my predictions went first of all.

1. Amir Sadollah vs Phil Baroni
In the first fight I had Amir Sadollah beating Phil Baroni, and I was bang on with this one. My friend Joel who is my personal MMA encyclopedia on fighters I don't know very well, ensured me that if Amir could last 1 minute he would probably be just fine and my pick would be right. And low and behold Joel couldn't have said it any better, the first minute saw Baroni land a flurry of punches that Amir took like a champ. After that 1 minute was up Baroni looked like he had just ran a marathon he was spent. Amir made him pay for the rest of the fight by physically dissecting him for the remaining 14 minutes of the fight. My friend Brian said it best while the fight was in the third round and said it looked like Amir was fighting a manic-an!! Classic. Amir wins by decision.

2. Antonio Nogueria vs Luiz Cane
This fight lasted all of 2 minutes, not even. My prediction was Little Nog to win and he didn't disappoint me one bit. He rocked Cane with a big left hook. Cane then preceded to back pedal the fastest I have seen anyone do so in the Octagon, but Little Nog kept at him and finished the fight with his big brother and Anderson Silva looking on. Little Nog wins by TKO.

3. Jacob Volkmann vs Paulo Thiago
Let me start out by saying once the introductions were made for this fight I hated Volkmann, your probably asking why do you hate him? Well I can't stand the mans nickname, it's Christmas, I am really that is the best you can come up with? Anyways I went with Paulo Thiago to win this bout and he did. With that being said Volkmann fought very well, you can't take that away from him. He even had Thiago in a crucifix and delivered some nasty elbows that certainly would have made face erupt into a sea of blood. At one point Volkmann from the bottom appeared to have a darce choke on Thiago from his back. But Thiago showed great patience as he managed to survive the raining blows and choke attepmt from Volkmann. Thiago eventually got on top of Volkmann to finish out the fight on top of Volkmann. Thiago wins by decision.

4. Josh Koscheck vs Anthony Johnson
Bring on the controversy. The fight starts out and Johnson begins punishing Kos. Both fighters were on the ground when Johnson got up and delivered a knee that seem to strike Kos in the head (Illegal Strike). Kos fell back and seemed to be reeling from this blow but he was holding his left eye, understandable right? He just got kneed illegally, but the replay shows Kos blocking the knee and nothing ever came close to his left eye. Kos milked the timeout he had to kill all momentum Johnson had built up, at one point the doctor came in to check Kos out and Kos had his eye open until the doctor came to check it out when all of a sudden I guess it hurt again and it was unable to open. So anyways they go to the 2nd round and with 13 seconds to go Kos sinks in a rear naked choke and Johnson has no choice but to tap. Now here is where I show my bias I liked both fighters going in so no matter who won I would be happy, but Kos cheated big time, now I know that Johnson attempted an illegal knee but it never hit Kos. After Kos walked around like an idiot faking his injury for 5 minutes, any momentum Johnson had which was a lot was gone. After the timeout Johnson seemed to no longer be in this fight and ultimately lost because of this. Kos even poked Johnson in the eye twice but Johnson took a combined time of 20 seconds. I think Johnson should get a rematch and Kos should be fined and suspended for taking a dive essentially. If Johnson loses then so be it. I did predict Johnson to win in the 2nd round but I was wrong, Josh Koscheck wins by rear naked choke.

What really pissed me off wasn't the fact Kos faked an injury but he then has the audacity to call out Dan Hardy and say he doesn't deserve a shot at GSP, last time I checked Hardy has won 4 in a row in the UFC and Kos was knocked out 2 fights ago by Paulo Thiago. To add to that he was getting beat up by Johnson before his fake injury. So I am gonna have to side with Dan Hardy on this one. Truth be told with that fake injury I would send Koscheck back to the bottom of the walter weight division.

5. Forrest Griffin vs Tito Ortiz
So I had Forrest winning this by decision in my prediction. This fight was going be interesting, Forrest needed a win big time and Tito had not fought in over a year. The fight in the first round looked like their first fight back in 06 except that Forrest landed a lot more strike via leg kicks and punches. Forrest really began taking over in the 2nd until Tito got a couple of take downs, now no body ever knows whats going on in the judges heads so I wasn't sure if they were in favor of Forrest's striking and good ground defence or Tito's tow take downs. I would have scored the round for Forrest. Forrest did take a nasty elbow from Ortiz and before I could say that is gonna bleed big time, the blood was already flowing out of Forrest's head. It was a pretty even fight after 2 with anyone's guess as to how the judges would score it. But third put any doubt to rest as Forrest picked a tired looking Ortiz apart. Tito looked like a punching bag as Forrest seemed to land shots at will with no threat of retaliation for Tito. The round ended with Tito landing maybe 1 or 2 punches while only attempting at most 6 punches. I had it scored 29-28 Forrest, but my score amounts to jack squat. So for a 2nd time in as many fights it went to the judges, (Tito took the first fight in 06 by split decision) and of course one of the judges fucked it up scoring it 29-28 Ortiz and the other 2 judges scoring it in Forrest's favor with scores of 30-27 and 29-28 respectively giving forrest his much need win by split decision.

In the post fight interview Tito began making excuses he apparently had a fractured skull, I can't see the doctors letting him fight with that, so I call bullshit. He also claimed that he had a bulging disc in his back between the c6-c7, that he originally said was the c10. Oh Tito just admit that you lost and give props to Forrest. My buddy had a good idea when I asked who's next for Forrest? He mention Jardine, (who Forrest has lost to once by TKO) and the loser of that is gone from the UFC, with the winner becoming the new gatekeeper in the UFC. I thought it was a pretty good suggestion myself.

Next up for the UFC is The Ultimate Fighter Finale which is on December 5th in Las Vegas.

In my next blog we switch back over to hockey. I will talk about the Leafs next game which is on Monday November 23rd against the New York Islanders and the 1st overall pick in last years draft John Tavares.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Diappointing Leafs

This blog topic is probably the most viewed by Leafs fans, as the frustration in Leaf land mounts. It's easy for all of us who don't play the game at a professional level to disect every mistake made by our Leafs, but hey it's their job to entertain us so we can rip into them from time to time. I have always been a Leafs fan and always will be, yes I am an idiot LOL.

I often compare my love for the Leafs to that of a relationship where one partner sleeps around and the other partner no matter how many times the other cheats, thinks that will be the last time. Of course the cheating in this case is not winning the Stanley Cup.

I have known for quite some time that the Leafs were gonna hit a rough patch when it came to the playoffs but I never thought we would be this deep in the basement for this long. It never just boils down to one player making the team a bad team, so I will give my 2 cents on who I think is not pulling their wight and why.

First on the chopping block:
Jason Blake-2yrs/6M: Oh Blake where do I start, I let him off the hook in his first season due to his health issues. Last year I though he had a decent year but not at 4.5 million. Blake was hastily signed after a 40 goal campaign on Long Island and has yet to produce anything like that since getting his big contract. In 2+ years in Toronto he has averaged 20 goals a season and only has this year and they are both on the power play. We are paying big bucks for this guy and he isn't producing as much as he is getting paid, I hate to say I told you so I knew this would happen and believe me I wanted Blake to prove me wrong. But after 20 games this season Blake is on pace for less then 10 goals this year. He is slowing down and he was praised for his speed when we got him. There is more on Jason Blake that I can rant about but I am only giving this much of my blog space.

Mike Van Ryn-1yr/3.35M: I know your thinking Van Ryn? Who is that again? Well he was our great return for Florida Panthers Captain Bryan McCabe. I won't be long on this guy. Van Ryn was having a decent year last year before he started running into his nemesis the injury bug, through not fault of his own it all started with a nice hit from behind by Canadien's forward Steve Begin. Then from there he got nailed by a Wendel Clark like Milan Lucic, in which Van Ryn broke the glass when he got hit. What frustrates me is this clown waits until the start of the season to decide to have surgery, what about all off season? This guys is getting paid 3.35 million dollars this year he will have 0 minutes and 0 points at the end of the year. Enough said.

Lee Stepniak-1yr/3.5M: He was acquired in the trade with St Louis, when we sent often injured Carlo Colaicovo who by the way finished with career numbers last year, and Alex Steen. To Lee's credit he has 10 pts in 20 games, so he is on pace for 41 points not a bad year for being on a bad team except for his salary. I would be okay with Stepniak being resigned at a lower rate, some where around 2 million/year after all we are off the hook for his salary as off April.

Francois Beauchemin-3yrs/11.4M: Again let me say when we signed this guy in the off season I was pumped, I loved this guy since he came into the league and especially in Anaheim. His struggles have been mighty so far in Toronto and I don't know why, it may be the system or maybe the nerves of playing in such a highly criticized market. I am sticking by Francois though even though at this point he is disappointing I think he will turn it around by season's end. His stats are fine except for the ugly -9 that is what bothers me. His worst season in terms of +/- was a -9 in Anaheim in 07-08 when he played in all 82 games. I think at the end of this contract we will all look back at this and say it was a good signing. An added bonus is that he is making 4.2 million this year but in the final 2 years of the deal his salary will dip to 3.6 million.

Jeff Finger-3yrs/10.5M: Jeff Finger, I can honestly say I wasn't a fan of this signing when Cliff Fletcher signed him. He was unproven and got overpaid, surprise surprise. Jeff did score a nice goal this year, I'll give him credit for that, but that is not why we pay him the big bucks. One thing I replay in my head over and over is Finger getting beat to the outside by players with average speed. Finger gets paid 3.5 million/year in his contract and he was a deal compared to other defence men 2 July 1st's ago but we still overpaid for him. Finger is a -8 through 11 games as he has been splitting time with fellow defence men Garnet Exelby. Finger has 6 points with 1 goal. Jeff is only 29 but he is not going to get any better, he is just going to see his skills decline over the next years. Anyone else counting down the days to the end of the 11/12 season? That is when his contract is up.

Luke Schenn-2yrs/1.75M: Okay Luke gets an honorable mention. Luke is having a disappointing season. Now that having been said I am not the average fan saying trade Luke now he stinks. I am saying send him down to the Marlies before his confidence is gone completely. Luke fell victim to having a great rookie season last year and with that comes bigger expectation for this season and Luke has not come through. Schenn is going to be a good shut down defence men in the future but he still has a lot to learn, hence my decision to send him down to the Marlies. Luke is making next to nothing because it's his entry level contract, so we can deal with him being -6 through 20 games. Again what worries me is his confidence, he is not gaining confidence by getting schooled on an almost nightly basis. Luke has a lot to learn especially in his own end. I know the NHL is the ultimate learning tool and that is how good players learn to be great players, but what good is it if you can't get anything out of the NHL.

Vesa Toskala-1yr/4M: Okay everyone's favorite dart board in Toronto lately is last, you gotta save the best for last right? Vesa is a good back up not a starter, now with that being said he is having an awful season and that is putting a pretty bow on it. He is playing like a minor league goalie right now. He has played 8 games and has 0 wins, 4 losses, and 2 overtime losses. His goals against average is a dismal 4.26, and he has a deflating save percentage of .854%. Those numbers are not worth 4 million dollars let alone even 2 million. I wanted to give Vesa the benefit of the doubt last year when he had a shaky year too. We all later found out he had to have hip surgery and I was willing to let that be the problem, but now there is no reason for this play he has shown us this year. I can't see Burke bringing this guy back especially at a ridiculous 4 million a year, and if he does then Burke is not the GM I thought he was. So I guess the only thing as Leafs fans we should do for Vesa is help him pack his bags so he can leave town. Come this April Leafs fans should see Toskala play his last game as Leaf.

It pains me to see the Leafs this bad. But as I said in earlier blogs I am a sucker for them and one day we will eventually win the Cup again, I just hope I am alive to see it. Think of how sweet it will be to see them raise that Cup.

Well it's not the good times that make you a fan of a team it's the bad times, I can be proud to say that no matter how good or bad Toronto is I'll be there cheer for them to win. GO LEAFS GO!!!!

In my next blog I will be taking a break from the Leafs and talking about the fight outcomes of UFC 106.

My UFC106 winner picks are:
Amir Sadollah winning avenging an early stoppage loss in his last fight.

Antonio Rogerio Nogueria winning, Little Nog making his older brother proud in his 21st career MMA fight.

Paulo Thiago winning making his 13th fight, lucky number 13.

In the co-main event I have Anthony "Rumble" Johnson winning by KO in the 2nd round over Josh "Kos" Koscheck.

Now for the main event, I have Forrest Griffin ending his 2 fight losing streak by decision over the returning Tito Ortiz. Forrest really needs this fight for his confidence after being tooled by Anderson Silva. I think Tito has been outta the game for too long, he will win again I just think it has been too long between fights for him. I guess he and Dana should have made up sooner. Tito still has 5 fights left on his contract after this fight.

See you all for the next blog, lets see how my picks turn out.

P.s. Check out the free under card fights on SPIKE TV.

The Phil Kessel Trade

Alright as promised I am gonna talk about the Phil Kessel trade. Originally Kessel was to be a Leaf on draft day back in June that would have seen Tomas Kaberle become a Bruin. The only problem was that Peter Chiarelli and Brian Burke were confused as to who was going to get a 1st round pick with their new player, the deal ultimately fell through because of this.

So over the whole summer Burke talked about how he was either going to acquire Kessel in a trade or by signing him to an offer sheet. Kessel was an unrestricted free agent so whoever traded for him would then have to sign him to a contract. Well Burke made a deal with the Black Hawks near the begging of the year to reacquire Toronto's 2nd round pick so that Burke could use it as part of the trade to get Kessel or use it to sign Kessel to an offer sheet and give Boston its compensation draft picks. Burke pulled the trigger on the deal in the middle of September, sending Toronto's 1st and 2nd round picks in this year draft to Boston as well as Toronto's 1st round pick in the 2011 draft. While Toronto got an unsigned restricted free agent (Phil Kessel). Kessel quickly signed a 5 year/27 million dollar contract with the Leafs.

That brings us to today the Leafs are in the basement of the league and are currently in possession of the 1st overall pick in the draft. However that pick now belongs to Boston. Kessel has made Toronto a better team and he is still young he is only 22 years old.

Many are already criticizing this deal because the Leafs weren't supposed to be this bad. Many are making the argument that Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin could easily help the Leafs just as much as Kessel is now. While others argued that despite Kessel's great goal numbers they would surely drop as in Boston Kessel had Marc Savard feeding him passes, but there is no one on Toronto's roster that could feed the puck to Phil. While Kessel has only played in 8 games this year because of off season shoulder surgery, he has 5 goals and 3 assists and is a +2.

I think time will tell the real story of this deal. If the Leafs go onto win a cup down the road and Kessel is still on the team many will say the deal was worth it no matter how good those 3 picks turn out to be. Or maybe Kessel leaves and we gave up those picks for 5 years of Kessel, or maybe we win a cup with Phil and maybe only 1 or more of those picks we sent to Boston become busts or they suffer a career ending injury. There are so many factors to consider when talking about this, I would have to side with taking Kessel, he has been one of the few bright lights for Toronto this season, pair that with the fact he is a proven sniper and he has yet to hit his prime as he is only 22. Kessel is going to be a good player but again time will tell just how good of a player he will turn out to be. The same will be said about the draft picks we gave up for Phil.

I am sure I will take heat for this but it's too early for anyone to be on the right side of this argument. It does irk me to see us in contention for the 1st overall pick in the draft and it doesn't even belong to us, however we could make a push and get out of the bottom 10 in the league. I DON'T see this happening but stranger things have happened in Leaf land.

There is of course the option to trade Kaberle for a 1st rounder but would it be worth it? Or could you sell someone on giving up a 1st rounder on a pending free agent? That would depend on where we traded T Kab and what position that team held in the draft. Let's face we don't have any real attractive assets in Toronto except for Kaberle. We are not going to move Kadri or any of are young guys, our veterans are over paid with large contracts. Guys like Blake, Hagman are the contracts I am talking about. We may be able to move Ponikarovsky or Stajan but were not going to get 1st rounders for them unless your playing NHL 09, best case you get a 2nd rounder each for them. Ian White is having a good year as well but I think Burke and Wilson both enjoy White and his never give up attitude so it would really take a good return to move him. I am not saying Ian White would fetch a 1st rounder by any means, but I think they both enjoy his style of play and he is only 25. He is on pace for 20 goals this year, but we all know that production is likely going to fall off, never the less Ian White went from being in the dog house to start last year to eating up minutes and pitching in from the point this year.

In next weeks blog I will talk about disappointing players who are wearing the blue and white.

Leafs Rookies Waiting In The Wings

Well the leafs can't wait to compete again for the Stanley Cup. They will have to do a number of things, build a solid core of players through trades and free agency and of course the draft. That is what this blog is about, we will have to wait around 5 years to see how Brian Burke's 1st draft as the Maple Leafs GM. However the jury is starting to come in on how John Ferguson Jr's draft's have gone. In this blog I will discuss Leafs rookies who have either cracked the roster and stayed or earned a few games with the big club.

We start with:
Viktor Stalberg: He was selected in the 6th round 161st overall in the 2006 draft. Stalberg tore it up in the preseason and had Leafs Nation a buzz with the possibility of having a potential Calder Trophy candidate. However since the season started Stalberg has fallen off the map, and has since been sent down to the Marlies the Maple Leafs farm system. He has only played in 8 games and has only 1 assist and is a -5. Once the games started meaning something Stalberg completely disappeared and gone are the speedy rushes down the wing and the nice goals and big games. Since being demoted to the AHL he has played in 8 games and has 4 goals with 5 assists for 9 points and a +3. Stalberg has time to grow down int he AHL and he is only going to become a better player the longer he stays and plays in the AHL. I'm not saying were gonna see this guy pot 50 goals but the more time he has to develop the better he will be in the future.

Carl Gunnarsson: He has only seen limited action in the NHL this year. He was called up from the AHL a week ago to fill in for the injured Mike Komisarek. Gunnarsson was selected by Toronto in the 2007 entry draft in the 7th round 194th overall. It's hard to judge just how good or bad Gunnarsson is because he has only played 3 games in the NHL. However in those 3 games he has looked good, he has 1 assist and is a -1. He has especially looked good working the opposite point on the power play with Tomas Kaberle. He is only 23 and again will be sent down once Komisarek returns from an injury. Just like Stalberg the more time he spends in the AHL at this age the better for his future. Carl has played in 12 games for the Marlies and has 2 assists.

Jonas Gustavsson: I won't spend much time on Jonas as by my last blog you know how I feel about him. Jonas has shown kinks in his armour but he is a rookie and the true test will be how he handle the adversity. Gustavsson can one day perhaps be a number 1 goalie in the league, I guess the test will be this year in Toronto. He is playing on a bad team with bad defence if he continues to play as well as he has then there should be no doubt in anyone's mind that he can indeed make that leap to number 1. Jonas has made numerous big saves this year already but I think the best save he has made was back in the preseason against the Detroit Red Wings. 2 Red Wing's came in on Gustavsson all alone, and Gustavsson absolutely robbed Detroit's Ville Leino. The Air Canada Centre then showed their appreciation for the monster when the gave him a standing ovation.

Tyler Bozak: Bozak who has only played 1 game in the NHL. Bozak was a monster himself in the preseason setting up goals like no other and even scoring a beauty short handed goal against the bruins. Bozak is hard to judge also due to the fact that he has only played 1 game but he got an assist in it and was a -2. However in the AHL Bozak has compiled 2 goals and 7 assists in 14 games. Bozak has potential to be the Leafs next big play maker, he was signed as a free agent out of the NCAA. Bozak will continue to blossom in the AHL and only good things seem to be in his future. I don't think he is going to be an all star or anything like that but he can be a serious contributer to this hurting Maple Leafs squad in the future.

Christian Hanson: Christian played in 3 games at the end of last year after being signed as a free agent out of the NCAA also. He scored his 1st career goal against the best goalie the game has ever seen Martin Brodeur. Hanson has yet to crack the big squad this season but is making his case for a shot as in 16 games this season with the Marlies he has a team leading 8 goals. He has 9 assists, and leads the team with 17 points. Hanson is also leading the squad with a +5. You can't really judge Hanson's abilities just yet with only 3 games under his belt. Hanson's production will surely drop off if he does get called up this year, but never the less he is having a great season in the AHL.

Nazem Kadri: Kadri was taken in this years past draft 7th overall, and was Brian Burke's first ever draft pick as the Leafs GM. Kadri impressed a lot of people in the preseason. Kadri who just turned 19 a month and a half ago is leading his team (London Knights, OHL) in goals (11) and points (22) and is a +9. Kadri was sent back down to the Ontario Hockey League because of his age and size. Kadri who is only 185 pounds and 6 feet tall, is still a little small for the NHL. Kadri is thought to have a shot at cracking the Leafs roster as early as next year, I don't think it would hurt to give him and year or two in the AHL however. There is no point in rushing him into the NHL. A lot of Leafs critized Burke for not keeping him in the NHL or even the AHL. I am gonna have to take Burke's side on this there is no harm in sending back a good player to the OHL, especially when that player can get better and have a chance to represent the Country in the world juniors. We will have to wait until next year to see if Kadri does make the roster next year or if he is sent to the Marlies, but we will have to wait at least 5 years to see jsut how Kadri turns out.

Here is a list of Brian Burke's first draft as the Leafs GM.
7th Nazem Kadri, Forward, London (OHL)
50th Kenny Ryan, Forward, USA Under 18 (USDP)
58th Jesse Blacker, Defence, Windsor (OHL)
68th Jamie Devane, Forward, Plymouth (OHL)
128th Eric Knodel, Defence, Philadelphia Jr (US AAA)
158th Jerry D'Amigo, USA Under 18 (USDP)
188th Barron Smith, Defence, Peterborough (OHL)

Next Weeks Blog is about the Phil Kessel trade.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Leafs Free Agent Busts

So we all know the Leafs revamped their roster in the off-season especially on the defence, in an attempt to make a push for the playoffs. Well as stated in the blog before were 20 games into the season and have 3 wins. On top of that we are dead last in the league, and far out of a playoff spot. I am going to go over how I feel the free agents have done so far a quarter of the way into the season.

Rickard Wallin- Okay so we all know that Wallin was not brought in here to light the lamp, and his stats show that. He has played in 20 games this season and has 2 assists, which is fine for a player in his role. However he is supposed to be a defensive forward, but is a minus 5. That stat right there is unacceptable. In order for Rickard to make an impact on this club is to start to shut down the other teams players, which is his job after all. I would give Wallin a GRADE of C for his efforts so far this year.

Francois Beauchemin- Alright this was a free agent signing I was very happy with when it was announced. I have always been a big fan of Francois, however that being said he has been less that impressive. With that being said I think the real Francois Beauchemin has yet to land in Toronto. A quarter of the way through the season and his stats are fine, except for one. He has 2 goals with 6 assists for 8 points in 20 games, he has 3 more points then he did this time last year. The real number that bothers me is the -9. Since being in the NHL he has never been worse than a -9 for a season, if he keeps this pace up he will finish a career low -36. But like I said before I see him picking his game up a little more as the season continues. I give Beauchemin a GRADE of C+, if not for that lowly -9 he would have been a B forsure.

Mike Komisarek- Mike has taken lots of penalties, blocked lots of shots and been in a tilt here and there, and has even had a dirty hit or two along the way. Vintage Komisarek!! Even though I feel we over paid for him, he is doing exactly what we are paying him to do. The average fans says he doesn't produce the points though, that is not his job! Mike is a shutdown defencemen. He compliments Thomas Kaberle perfectly, T Kab doesn't have to worry about getting run like in past years because if he does get run, Komisarek will make that player pay. Kaberle's point production this year shows his comfort with playing with Mike. Komisarek has never been know for his offensive numbers and again this year that will be the case as he has 0 points in 16 games this year. He is a -9. He is in his 7th NHL season and has only once finished with a minus rating and that was his first year in the NHL with the Habs when he was a -6. I would give Komisarek a GRADE of B+, even though he is on pace to set a career low for +/- he has done exactly what he has been hired to do.

Jonas Gustavsson- Where do I start with the MONSTER. I think he has been the Leafs best free agent signing. He is young (25), and a good fit on the Leafs, as long as the Leafs don't ruin his confidence like they did last year with Justin Pogge. Gustavsson has started 11 games this year and has gotten the Leafs points in 7 of those 11 starts, one of his losses should have also been credited to Toskala too. The game in Washington where he came in to relieve Toskala and gave the Leafs a chance to win as they almost came back and he was unfairly given the loss even though when he came in he was down 3-0. He has a save% of .901 which needs improving but is the best on the team. He also leads the team with a Goals Against Average of 3.23. He is the only goalie this year with a win, he has 3 on the year so far. I give Gustavsson a Grade of A+, he has much to improve on but has done more than he was expected of and looks to be the Leafs new number 1 goalie.

In my next blog I will be talking about so of the Leafs draft picks that are coming around and that should be ready in a year or two.

The Leafs Suck!!!

Well the Leafs did it again, they lost to the worst team in the league and blew a 3 goal lead in the process. You may ask but why do they suck? Well we are 20 games into the season, dead last in the league since losing to Carolina and we have compiled a less than impressive 3 wins. If this pace continues we will have an impressive 12 wins in 82 games. But that's okay right? because we should have the first overall draft pick, so we can take Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin. But WAIT we traded that pick to Boston as well as our 2nd rounder from this year and our 1st rounder for next year.

The Leafs are struggling all around it is impossible to put the blame on just one person. The only consistency with the Leafs is that no matter who is in goal the team doesn't play well enough in front of the goalies. On replays you are almost always seeing at least 1 Leaf defender standing around looking confused as to what assignment he is supposed to take, and that ultimately makes the goalies look bad as they fish the puck out of their net. Now I am not saying the goal tending is off the hook, they have their issues it seems goal tender Vesa Toskala can't stop a beach ball at times. Rookie Jonas Gustavsson has his share of bad games, although for the most part he always gives the Leafs a chance at winning, and cannot take the blame for the teams losses.

In my next blog I will discuss how Toronto's free agents are doing, and what they're not doing!!