Personal thoughts…

Tech, Hockey, and random thoughts…

Caps acquire Kronwall off waivers

NO!
ARGH!

The Leafs are systematically taking away every one of my favourite players
I loved Kronwall, he was one of the very few players I’ve been cheering for since well before he hit the NHL to play for the Leafs.

The Marlies lose easily their best D-Man all season, and Toronto loses a guy who could step in and play well as a bottom pairing blueliner for the next half decade.

I wish him luck in Washington, he’s a legitimate NHL talent and can play now. He could have played several years ago as our 6th D-Man. I don’t usually make hard definitive comments on what a player will be, and it’s perhaps arrogance to suggest that of Kronwall a mid 20’s AHL’er… afterall, such players don’t typically have any real value at all. In this instance I’ll be arrogant however, because I have confidence in Kronwall.

May not be anything special but he’s solid, and cheap. We don’t exactly have an abundance of players fitting that description.

And yes, I realize no one except me cares. But I love Kronwall, perhaps as much because he’s the only player I’ve ever felt I saw and recognized his talent before NHL scouts did.  It’s easy to watch prospects and read about them and form an opinion after the scouting agencies start mentioning them a year or so in advance of the draft.
Not so easy to see an unknown European, that goes late in the draft and say you saw him as an NHL talent.
Fun.
Because I fully admit, my hit rate on prospects I like is pretty middling and definitely well below the Leafs actual success.
(I do a sort of mock draft every year, selecting whom I’d pick of those available at the time the Leafs pick. Predictably, I’ve faired extremely poorly relative to the actual Leafs scouts. Which is as it should be of course, their professionals, I’m a fan…. they have all the resources and time to see all the players. I have little of either.)

Regardless, while I recognize few think much of him he’s quality IMO. Some offensive ability, albeit not likely much at the NHL level. He was taking on the tough opposition down in the A and coming out ahead. He was on the ice for a ton more D-Zone draws then O-Zone draws, and the puck was moving the right direction when he came off. Routinely took the shift after a PP when the rested top talents on the other team typically stepped on. In short, he’s been getting results in some very unfavorable ice time for 2yrs now and was adequate in his NHL showings.  Yes, he’s an AHL vet but he can play IMO.

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | Leave a comment

Sundin ad nauseum

To the Media:  (Yes I know none are reading this)

Another day, another question from the media as to whether he will waive his No-Trade Clause. Another response from Sundin that says “No”. I’ve been keeping track this month because it seemed over the past few months that he was getting asked that practically daily. I was wrong, he’s only been asked that by twenty different people in the past 23 days (at least that have been oublished), though obviously many have asked multiple times.

This is getting annoying. Seriously an example of todays article:

“Sundin spoke to the media at Saturday’s morning skate and admitted that interim GM Cliff Fletcher had asked him to waive his clause, allowing the club to pursue a trade.

‘The Leafs gave me a chance to think about it and all that but as I said my position hasn’t changed since the start of the year.

”I have to do what feels right in my heart. I just don’t think I can go to another team if I don’t want to play for another team. That wouldn’t be right to myself. That’s how I feel”

So he’s firm in that he will not waive his NTC. What does the author then say?

“Sundin has only a few days to contemplate his future. The belief is the Leafs were hoping for a response from him on Friday. Instead, it may take the rest of the weekend for Sundin to make his decision.”
It may take the weekend for him to make his decision?  He just finished telling you he MADE his decision. A YEAR ago!  So instead you just keep asking him and pretend you haven’t heard the same answer every day for months?

Seriously, quit this. It’s aggravating incessant and ridiculous. We know he has trade value, we know the Leafs stink and we know dealing him for futures would help a rebuilding process. We also KNOW he will not under any conditions play elsewhere. End of discussion. He’s been adamantly firm on that thousand times over.
He probably has himself on tape recorder just to replay his words, their the same every time. He must have the patience of a god to put up with this, because it’s driving me insane just reading about it.
Every day, multiple times a day a new article pops up telling us the exact same thing. Ask Sundin, Sundin replies in the negative. We ignore that and say “Sundin hasn’t made a decision”. Ask next day, he made his decision long ago. It’s a no. Ignore it and say he hasn’t made his decision.

PLEASE STOP!
This is Toronto. I know you need to write a billion stories about even the tiniest incidents that may be even vaguely related to anyone that has even the slightest connection to the Leafs but for the love of god FIND SOMETHING NEW!

I can answer every single question Sundin will ever be asked over the next few months right now:
I will not waive my NTC, I will not play for any other team besides the Toronto Maple Leafs. I will retire a Leaf. I will resign here in the off season. I would rather play here then have the opportunity at a cup elswhere. I do not feel comfortable doing as Ray Bourque did.

How do I know that’s the answer? Easy, it’s copied verbatim from about 200 articles.

Whether Sundin is a wonderful guy whose loyalty is paramount and cares more for Toronto then the Cup itself, or he’s a heartless *beep* that’s staying here so he won’t have to work hard elsewhere on a cup run I really don’t care what the media thinks. Both have been said a billion times over.
Sundin is a god if he does waive his NTC, and the devil if he does it. He’s a god if he refuses to do so, and a devil if he refuses to do so. He’ll be crucified and worshipped by an equal number of people either way.
Pretty much all Leafs fans have their own opinion, as I do. None of us care what you think of his refusal to play elswhere.

Regardless, his heart is in Toronto and he’s clear that wherever Toronto goes he will be on the team. Be that to last in the NHL or first. He’s here. No where else, and that NTC ensures that he has final say.
What anyone else offers Toronto for him doesn’t matter, nor does Fletcher’s desires. Sundin holds all the cards. And he refuses to play elsewhere.

I’ll respect him regardless. If he goes at a deadline rent a player deal then I’ll love the prospects/picks coming back. If he refuses to then I’ll love his devotion to a dead team. But either way Sundin made his impact on Toronto long ago, and he’s hard pressed to significantly alter it positively or negatively now.

February 23, 2008 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | 1 Comment

Steen resigned

3.7M over 2 yrs, 1.85M per.

That seems like an awful lot to be paying Steen in the short term, he doesn’t appear likely to outperform the contract in the near term and there is no long term benefits with this deal.

Strange.

Without any strong counting stats to fall back on to boost his contract value, and no track record of being an outperformer against decent opposition he can’t be reasonably expected to justify it immediately. If he does ever justify it, he’ll be up for another contract by then.

Disappointing when Trent Hunter went for 2M per over 5yrs with the NYI today. Certainly a substantially better player right now, at only incrementally more. Also a pending UFA. Steen was a RFA whose still years away from UFA.

This really makes no sense to me. If Steen was pushing the Leafs that hard in contract negotiations that he demanded an overpayment then they would have been better off simply offering the 1yr qualifying offer with the minimum obligatory raise in order to retain his rights.
If their comitted to Steen long term, then a term of more then 2yrs would have been the path to take.

Hard to see any real benefit here to Toronto.
Stajan will presumably see a commensurate raise in his contract.

February 22, 2008 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | Leave a comment

Dating and ‘Sudden’ Sundin

You know hockey obsession in Toronto is a touch excessive when front page news is Mats Sundin has hugged a girl in Sweden.

Yes, I know the shock and awe. He’s now one of the hundreds of millions of men across the world that probably hugged their wives/girlfriends the same day. Outside of destroying my long held suspicion that Sundin was gay (Yes I seriously believed it possible, no it’s not an insult to Sundin).

Welcome to the media Josephine Johansson, you will never again escape it, ask Mats ex-Tina Fagerstrom. She’s still news several years after they were a couple for the sole reason that she was once with Sundin.

Not even Mats semi-legendary ability to keep his private life-private can save you now. At least she had a few months peace before the media caught ahold of the news.

Apparently when your named Mats Sundin, the biggest news in Sweden or Toronto on Aug17 is when you hug your girlfriend. Unsurprisingly the newspapers have pledged to keep us updated on the couples exploits. Much as I love Sundin I cannot even begin to fathom why I should care whom he’s dating however.

August 17, 2007 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | 1 Comment

Maurice on Blake and other thoughts

Quote of the Week: Paul Maurice (Leafs Head Coach) on the Jason Blake: “What I like about Jason is that I really didn’t like him.”

No Maurice, that’s Tucker. You hate Tucker, everyone hates Tucker.  That’s why Leafs fans love Tucker, and that’s why Tucker is so valuable. When your an agitator hatred is the epitome of success.
Blake is Tucker, just less physical not as good of an agitator. Slightly more offence, and much more defence. I like Blake, but you’ve got someone already that deserves that statement much moreso then Blake.

On another note- I wish people would stop calling Blake a 40G scorer. He’s broken 30 once in his career, at age 33. What are the odds Blake became a dramatically better player at age 33?   Pretty small.
What are the odds he had a career year? Awfully good.

Note #2: Blake takes Tucker’s place on the PP. Tucker’s goal totals drop. I’m betting low 20’s. 18-23, without Blake I’d have said 26-31. And even without Blake, no way in hell does Tucker score at a 35+ goal pace over a full season next season, last year was definitely a high water mark for him.

Note #3 : Blake’s never put up huge numbers ES. Don’t expect that to change.

Note #4: Everyone get’s overpaid in UFA, you never get a bargain. The question is how much you overpay, and for how long. If you go into UFA and say you won’t sign player X unless you get him at a fair price…. then you better realize you’ll sign one player every 5yrs or so.
Blake at 4M/yr is pretty nice under those conditions. Blake for 5yrs isn’t so nice. He’s hear for his age 34-38 seasons. A semi-young 34, since he made his NHL debut at 26, but he definitely isn’t going to be worth 4M long term.

Note 4: Ryan Smyth was the best player available in UFA.

Note 5: Either Colombus made the second good move in team history in signing Jan Hejda for 1M/yr for 2yrs, and made by far the best signing in UFA. Or I massively over rate him, he’s not a 4th D-Man and is in reality ECHL fodder. Odds are I overrate him. I loved, absolutey loved Gilbert Brule. He hasn’t exactly done anything at all yet. He was drafted by Colombus. I had Brassard ahead of Kessel in 06′ Colombus drafted Brassard, Brassard may have had an excellent season last year but he will fail to live up to my expectations. As will Hejda. They hired Ken Hitchcock, that exhausted their quota of logical and intelligent moves for the next 25yrs.

Note 6: Very glad we got a top 6 LW.

Note 7: Bell is a poor man’s Jeff O’Neill. We didn’t want O’Neill at 1.5M, we now have Bell at 2M/yr for 2yrs. San Jose is laughing that they actually got value in return for him. Toskala has always played the easy oppisition in San Jose, Nabokov the tough opposition.
Toskala’s Shot Quality Neutral SV%?  Never quite as inspiring as his unadjusted SV%.
Take the two together? Toskala in Toronto = .900 SV%.
To add to the stupidity JFJ signs his latest unproven starter to a 4M/yr deal. Why the urgency? He’s under contract for next season, you can wait a few months into the season to see if he deserves it… instead of signing him ASAP and hoping he justifies this deal.
For this JFJ took Bell’s dead weight, and gave up a 13th overall pick a 2nd rounder and a 4th rounder.
Florida gave up two 2nd rounders and a 1st rounder for a borderline elite (not quite there) starter in Vokoun.
Slightly more then JFJ gave for Toskala, and didn’t even have to take dead weight salary like JFJ did.
Vokoun is a far better goalie then Toskala is even in a best case scenario.
Thanks JFJ for overpaying for mediocrity again, it’s not like the Leafs as a team without a lot of youth and litte immediate hope of going anywhere in the player could USE those draft picks your so desperate to give up.

Sorta like Raycroft last year. Gave up an elite goaltending prospect in Rask for Andrew Raycroft…. our overpaid backup that no one wants to take off our hands. Hated it then, hate it now.
Wonder what mediocre to bad goalie JFJ will give good value for next season?
Could have had a legitimate starter in Legace for a cheaper price then Raycroft last season without paying anything. Could have had Vokoun this season for marginally more then he gave up for Toskala.

We desperately need to add an addendum to JFJ contract that prohibits him from touching a goalie, else he agrees to be shot by a firing squad.

Meanwhile Peddie continues to search for an advisor for JFJ. Since he doesn’t have faith that JFJ can be a good GM on his own he doesn’t bother firing him. No replacing crap with something better would be too logical.
Instead he hopes people like Poile and Burke will accept a demotion to come to Toronto and advise JFJ. To no one’s surprise they declined. Much like Scotty Bowman did.
Now he’s after Muckler. Why? Probably because it’s stupid.
Muckler’s great why? He stuck around the legendary 80’s oilers but was in no way respondisble for their success. As the neverending parade of “friends of Gretzky” in Phoenix have proven being around Gretzky when he was playing doesn’t make you absorb hockey genius by osmosis. His tenure in Buffalo was pretty decent albeit unremarkable.
His time in Ottawa? Well, he took on a very young and very cheap elite team and…. they got much more expensive, and older… and marginally better which was expected with development of their youth anyway. Now his replacement is trying to dump Muckler’s costly mistakes in qualifying Saprykin and overpaying Corvo and Gerber.
For this we apparently want Muckler to advise JFJ.

Ah, they eternal torture of being a Leafs fan. Fun isn’t it?
Welcome to Leafs Nation, leave your common sense at the door.

July 8, 2007 Posted by | NHL Trades, Toronto Maple Leafs | 1 Comment

Toronto forward lines 06-07

My thoughts:

I’m leaning towards Antropov and Ponikarovsky on Sundin’s wing. Poni and Antro work very well together, and Sundin seems to raise Antro’s game moreso then he does anyone else.
O’Neill is a secondary option if he plays well.

I’d like to see Kilger get an opportunity with decent offensive linemates. He DID lead Toronto last season at even strength goals, and despite his woeful inconsistency he’s well suited to the “NEW NHL” as we saw last season so I’d like to see if he can more given the opportunity, he did manage to post 17 goals despite only playing about 9Min a night even strength and no PP at all.

If Suglobov makes the roster perhaps he could be paired with Kilger. Kilger was pretty good defensively last year, so he can partially cover for Suglobov’s defensive inadequacies. Both of them are excellent skaters, so it could potentially make for a very swift line as well. Suglobov is more of a playmaker then a scorer despite his excellent shot so Kilger would give him someone to pass to.

Perhaps Pohl centering them? I’m not sure if it would work out defensively, but it’s worth a try and would give us a depth line without significant offensive potential if it worked.

Steen and Wellwood are capable offensively, and worked well together for a brief time last season. Tucker would add significant physical presence to the line, and a decent amount of scoring himself.
Whether the line would be quick enough/physical enough/adequate defensively I’m not sure however as all 3 play very very different styles of games…

Stajan and peca are two of our premier defensive guys. Peca doesn’t give Stajan much to work with offensively though, but I don’t see a lot of room above him unless we drop Tucker back, but Tucker’s a bigger goal scoring threat right now not nearly as good defensively. O’Neill’s rather out of place there admittedly, but perhaps he and Stajan can get something going together.

Antropov-Sundin-Ponikarovsky
Steen-Wellwood-Tucker
Stajan-Peca-O’Neill
Kilger-Pohl-Suglobov

I’m unsure about the 2nd and 3rd lines to be honest, and nothing will adequately make best use of everyone’s talents. No mater what we do, we’ll be making some sacrifices and potentially holding someone aback for the betterment of the team as a whole.

I do think the 1st line is worth going with however, no one else has their game raised as much by Sundin as Antropov and he and Poni work well together so with the absence of any truly excellent wingers for him I’d like to see them paired.

The 4th line is well worth a shot I think… it may not work, but there is enough talent there that it could provide excellent depth scoring whilst still be adequate defensively, and few 4th line trios could skate with them.

Belak as the usual enforcer/energy guy/versatile injury fill in.

These lines of course are only assuming everyone is fully healthy, which oftentimes will not be the case. During those times we’ll have to shake them up quite a bit, and can probably move O’Neill towards a line better suited to his sniping talents, and hopefully give Stajan someone more talented to work with then Peca.
Ideally we would also double-shift Sundin at times, and try to limit Peca’s 5on5 ice time as he’s a dead weight offensively for nullifies much of his defensive qualities so we should focus him on the PK, and shutting down individual stars on the opposite team as much as possible.

Williams, and Ondrus would be the first call-ups in case of injury. Williams for scoring, Ondrus if we need a checker or if the teams seems to be lacking enthusiasm… as that’s one thing he’s adept at providing.

I’ll cover my preferred defensive lines tomorrow, along with how we could manage our goaltending and special teams (PP/PK situation).

September 7, 2006 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | Leave a comment

Steen-Too much, too soon?

I really think the Leafs are putting too much pressure on Steen.
Now 3rd in ice time among our forwards, and quickly on his way to passing Lindros for 2nd. Playing on our first line, getting big PP minutes and PK minutes. Leading the Leafs in shots…

He’s basically on the ice doing everything offensively and defensively for us.
I love him… but he’s only 21, he’s not accustomed to playing 18min/game playing in all the pressure situations, and certainly not over a very long 82 game schedule.
I’m worried we’re going to burn him out late in the season, and we’re putting an awful lot of demands on him to be the focal point of them team in every zone.

We can see statistically he’d already slowing down a bit.

I know the popular consensus amongst fans is to thrust rookies into 1st line minutes immediately, and basically let them sink or swim… but we’re riding Steen awfully hard.
He doesn’t seem bothered by it in the least, and all past reports indicate he’s a great team player and his performance is stellar thus far, he’s probably out most consistent forward to date… so if anyone can handle the load it’d be him.
But I really think that even if it hurts us a bit in the short term, we’d be better off in future years and even by playoff time if we let up on Steen a bit right now.

Lindros has slumped a bit in recent games… maybe putting him up alongside Sundin in place of Steen might reawaken his offensively and in terms of his physical impact which was tremenous earlier this yr.
It’d allow us to drop Steen to the 2nd line, a bit less ice time but still in a solid role with capable linemates.

December 2, 2005 Posted by | Toronto Maple Leafs | Leave a comment

Leafs developing chefs

Leafs Rookie Camp

The two-week prospects camp, which begins Sunday, is once more being organized by Leafs player development coach Paul Dennis. On-ice activities will include power skating and skills' enhancement, while the players also will be attending seminars on character development, media awareness (with mock interviews) and cooking, as well as attending a Blue Jays game.

Anyone see anything wrong with the above quote?
Their attending a seminar on cooking… uh, okay. Exactly why are the Leafs concerned about the culinary abilities of their prospects?

July 7, 2005 Posted by | Amusement, Toronto Maple Leafs | Leave a comment