Posted by: dildeepsingh | September 16, 2008

Toronto Maple Leafs Season Preview: DOOM!!!

The Maple Leafs have been scarred by the Mats Sundin situation. With Sundin set to leave the Leafs, either through retirement or free-agency, the Maple Leafs will have to do like the Green Bay Packers and look to new options. Like Favre, Sundin has been the face of the franchise for years. The last two weeks, we’ve seen what Green Bay is capable of without Favre but many would argue that this team doesn’t have an Aaron Rodgers they can rely on. Cliff Fletcher is one suggesting this himself. “There are rocky days ahead,” said Fletcher. But of course, the Leafs are a business and they are worried about the money. “We have a lot of marketing challenges”, this coming from MLSE VP and CEO Tom Anselmi. I believe there is still more in this team than suggested by most analysts but not that much more. I’m not as crazy as other fans who believed those fools would make the playoffs last year or those who think that this team could make the playoffs. I don’t feel that this team will finish last place in the league like suggested by most.

Who’s Gone??

There are a lot of people on this team that will not be joining us from last seasons team. The list is headed by big name players (not big performance players) like Darcy Tucker, Andrew Raycroft, Kyle Wellwood and the 28.75 million dollar man himself, Bryan McCabe (and probably soon Mats Sundin). Darcy Tucker is someone I’d like to thank for his contributions in earlier season until he became a one trick pony last season. Kyle Wellwood was someone who was seen as a bright talent. He does have the hockey smarts to become a great NHL player but he doesn’t have the physical capabilities. In this league, if you want to be a great player at a size like his, you must strengthen your body. You have be quick and strong. Kyle was neither. He was possibly one of the slowest players on the team. Skating has been a major problem for the Leafs, as we’ve always drafted players without the ability to skate at an elite level. Andrew Raycroft set the Leafs record for 37 wins by a goalkeeper two seasons ago but he was one of the worst goalies this franchise has seen at the same time. He was unable to compete against Toskala for the number on spot and he was unable to hold his own as a back-up. Mats Sundin is someone I would also like to thank for his contributions but it’s time that we part ways. I would like to mention that I still am very very upset that he didn’t leave at the trade deadline and I will never forgive him for that.

So we got rid of a lot of big name players we didn’t bring as many big names in but we did surprise many.

Lets look at the additions from the net out. You might think that the Leafs are going retro too often. We brought back Cliff Fletcher and now we went and got Curtis Joseph. Joseph was probably the best netminder we had since we last won the cup. I’m not saying that because I saw each and everyone of them but based on numbers and how far he got us. Next on D we made a few additions. So we essentially went out and got 3 new defencemen but only two are against our cap because we are filing for grievance for Frogren. We got Mike Van Ryn through trade and Jeff Finger through free agency. Both were surprises because we essentially downgraded in Mike Van Ryn from Bryan McCabe. Van Ryn has a blast from the point but did have two wrist surgeries so it remains to be seen how he will hold up after those. I think if he holds his own in his end and contributes offensively because he will get PP time, he may be a great addition to a contender and would get us good value because he wouldn’t be a rental. Jeff Finger along with Frogren will add a lot of size in front of our net. Forwards will think twice when bringing the puck in behind the goal line and at Toskala. Up front we looked to free-agency and trading draft picks to improve depth (or lack of). Hollweg was acquired from New York Rangers for a 5th round draft pick. Mikhail Grabovski was acquired from Montreal for Greg Pateryn and a 2nd round pick in the 2010 draft. Jamal Mayers was acquired from St. Louis Blues for a 3rd round draft pick in the 2008 draft. What blows my mind is why a team in the rebuilding process is trading away draft picks that would help them rebuild. This fits in well with Fletcher’s ideal, “draft schmaft”. Hollweg and Mayers were acquired to make this team a lot tougher and keep grinders off of our star players (or once again lack of). I don’t understand how we traded away a 3rd round pick for a 33 year old. Hollweg and Grabovski are still sort of young so I don’t mind much, but 33!!!!!! Through free-agency, we brought in 27 goal scorer Niklas Hagman. No one is expecting Hagman to score 27 again. He’s a speedy player that works hard every single shift. He’s a third liner on any team except the Toronto Maple Third and Fourth Liners. Only Antropov is a top six on this team and any contending team, he’s not even that (ie. Detroit).

So here’s what I think our line up will be for the first game of the season:

LW            C               RW

Blake–Antropov–Hagman

Kulemin–Steen–Poni

Stajan–Grabovski–Tlusty

Bell–Hollweg–Mayers

LD                RD

Van Ryn–Kaberle

Kubina–Finger

Stralman–Frogren

G: Vesa Toskala

Backup: Curtis Joseph

Leading Points: Nik Antropov – 59 Points

Leading Goal Scorer: Nikolai Kulemin – 28 Goals

Final Position Overall: 29th in head of only the New York Islanders

Draft Pick: 2nd Overall – VIKTOR HEDMAN

It’s not going to be a great season for us, but no one said it would, literally, no one. The Leafs will simply live and die based on how they play in their own zone because it’s simply puzzling how the Leafs will score.

People have already said to me that it’s ridiculous that I think Kulemin will get 28 goals. I’m well aware that it is ridiculous. If I’m wrong people are gonna say here’s another one of the idiots that thought he wouldn’t do anything but if I’m right, I can tell people I saw it. In the RSL, he was barely able to score at that rate because he has a frame built for the NHL. If he gains a little more strength with his speed and power in this league I think it is achievable. Kulemin will start with low minutes but the management has already said that spots are open based on performance. Kulemin can work his way up.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. So you think the Leafs will open the season without Grabovski, Ponikarovski or Colaiacovo in the lineup ?

    I find that unlikely.

  2. Shoot, my bad completely forgot about Poni and Grabovski. I do however believe we will play without Colaiacovo. I don’t think Finger and Frogren would have been picked up if Coloaiacovo was expected to play a major role. We haven’t seen the guy ever play more than 3 games in a row and i don’t expect him to start anytime soon.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: