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As Bolland arrives from Chicago, the Leafs draft Frederik Gauthier; will he be a Leaf in five years?

The one thing that kept coming back to my mind the last few days as the hockey world has been gearing up for the entry draft is that, for all the complaining we tend to do as Leaf fans, we can’t honestly say (and I’m talking about a long period of time, dating back to the ‘80s, say) the Leafs have a terrible draft record.

I mean, like all teams, we have had our share of players who were drafted high and never played much in the NHL.  And fans talk about the fact that we have given away draft picks (or prospects) over the years but I will rarely criticize the Leafs for trying to do what it takes to win a Cup. After all, the hockey world is full of “prospects”, but when you really have a shot at something special, as the Leafs did, for example, in the early 2000s, I’ll support the team’s efforts to win a Cup any day if they feel a need to deal away some kids. Most prospects never really get past that stage.

To be clear, I’m all for having nice prospects in the system, but you need more than that to be successful.  (Heck for all the discussion around all the great picks and prospects we supposedly gave up in those early 2000 years, who did we really lose?  The name that often gets brought up is Brad Boyes, who had some nice offensive seasons years ago, sure.  But he’s played for six NHL organizations, so the Leafs were not alone in not finding him indispensible.)

Generally speaking, I have no major problem with how the Leafs handled their draft and prospects in the early 2000s.  We can always go back and see how they could have done better, though that applies to every NHL team. But I do recognize that when it comes to the Maple Leafs and their drafting history, the biggest thing that we fans tend to focus on, though, fair or not, is not always who we pick but where they end up.  I mean, picking players is hardly an exact science.  And what constitutes a “successful” draft pick, unless you’re talking Sidney Crosby, is pretty hard to quantify sometimes. It depends on what your expectations were going in.

To me, as important as “drafting” is, it’s really how you develop the kids you pick that matters most.  A team like the Red Wings has an almost mythical reputation for doing a great job of picking future superstars in the late rounds.  And it’s true, they have had some success in that regard.  But their real strength, I would argue, is how they develop those players—with patience, proper coaching and genuine support.

To be fair, the Leafs have had their share of late-round success, too.  Heck, Tomas Kaberle is a good example of that, as are more recent names that have worn the blue and white with some degree of  success. (Komarov and Gunnarsson are two other examples, both Ferguson selections, as I recall, and there have been others, like Ian White at 191 overall in 2002 and Danny Markov at 223 in 1995…)

So yes, sometimes the Leaf organization has shown an ability to be patient and allow youngsters an opportunity to truly develop at a reasonable pace.  Leaf fans of the ‘80s era well remember the 1989 draft, when then owner Harold Ballard was still around and management selected three guys from the same team—leading to no end of quips about how cheap the Leafs were, that they wouldn’t allow their scouts to drive past Belleville, etc..  But as I recall, each of the three kids we selected played in the NHL, just not much with the Leafs.  Maybe those were good picks after all and, again, the organization just did a terrible job of developing those players after they were drafted.  (I seem to recall one of those 1989 Leaf picks played close to 1,000 NHL games…Am I wrong about that?)

Much more recent, and a lot more relevant, is the Luke Schenn example.  I’m well aware that many within the Leaf fans base were thrilled to see us move the young defender last summer, especially given the opportunity to acquire James van Riemsdyk, a young forward with size and significant talent and potential.  But I have long seen Schenn as another example of a player being very poorly developed after he was drafted by the Leafs. He was rushed into the NHL, and while he showed flashes in Toronto, I had this nagging feeling that his confidence was shot by the time he left town.  And that’s a shame when you're talking about any draft pick, but especially someone you invest in as a first-rounder—and a player I believe still has an opportunity to be a big-minute NHL “D” man, despite his limitations.

So while some will argue the Leafs have done a better job of retaining and developing picks in the last few years, I’m still not sure I’m ready to make that pronouncement just yet, though a number of Marlies have started to make their mark with the big club, I realize. (How big those contributions will be over time, beyond a first-rounder like Kadri, I’m still not sure…and I remain convinced that even Kadri was in play if other teams had been willing to pull the trigger on a deal with the Leafs prior to this past season.)

Bottom line, what I’m wondering today is: will Gauthier still be a Leaf five years down the road?

A few things bring this to mind.  Not just Leaf history, but also reports that the Bruins were actually considering trading Tyler Seguin.  That would be pretty bold stuff, eh?  If Seguin can be dealt, after the never-ending analysis of the Kessel trade, it’s a brave new cap world in hockey, eh?

From a Leaf perspective, I admit I sometimes rue the times we had some really solid young players and they ended up blossoming elsewhere. And in this regard, I’m not talking about future draft picks or “prospects”, I’m referring to young, emerging NHL players.

Examples that come to mind over the years would include:

-Al Iafrate (drafted in 1984)
-Vincent Damphousse (drafted in 1986)
-Luke Richardson (drafted 1987)
-Kenny Jonsson (drafted 1993)

Those were extremely talented young Leafs, who all had long and very solid NHL careers—largely elsewhere.  Iafrate was about as gifted a Maple Leaf as I’ve seen over the decades, but I guess it just wasn’t going to work here.  We got Bob Rouse from the Capitals for Iafrate, and he was a big part of the Pat Burns era.  We can debate the wisdom of the deals involving the other young players I cited, but there are usually pros and cons in all of those situations.  And yes, it’s always easier to second-guess after the fact.

Maybe the most painful recent example is Tuukka Rask (2005 first-round pick), traded to the Bruins for Andrew Raycroft, who the Leafs believed was an emerging goalie at the time.  In truth, Rask was not really in the same category as the players I just mentioned.  He was probably more of a ‘prospect’ in that he never actually played with the Leafs.  While I will defend most of the Leafs’ moves prior to that in the early 2000s (including, yes, the Owen Nolan deal) that trade simply did not work. 

Whether it’s fair to criticize the Leafs after the fact for the Rask deal, it’s not hard to argue that, developed properly in Toronto (which probably would not have happened, I admit, given our history of developing goalies here) Rask would be a bonafide star, an unquestioned number-one netminder.  We would not need to have an annual debate about who we bring in next to play goal. We’d already have our guy.

To a much lesser extent in recent times, players like Tlusty and Stalberg have found their form and some degree of success after being drafted and then dealt away by the Leafs, but again, it’s hard to whine too much about our GM’s trying to improve their roster.  It can’t always work out.

I well recognize that right now,  most Leaf fans don’t care about what happened thirty years ago, or even ten years ago  They’re interested in recent draft choices:  Kadri, Blacker, D’Amigo, Biggs, Percy, Leivo, along with Rielly, of course, and Finn.  Maybe Devane and Broll, too.

And now we can add big Gauthier to that list. Will he be a first-liner some day?  An excellent checking center?   What’s a good enough ‘ceiling’ in your mind for a player drafted 21st overall?

And how many of the recent Leaf picks I just listed will really “make” it?  How many will be impact players- in Toronto?

And which of those guys will be core players when the Leafs are contenders for the Cup?


When all was said and done, the Leafs made no first-round 'noise', nothing that would have excited the faithful and catapulted the Leafs into the upper echelons of the draft. My sense is most fans were fine with this patient approach from Nonis, believing that Toronto has plenty of prospects in the cupboard already and what we really will need before too long are some greybeard vets who can get us over the top...


That said, my early feeling about the Bolland trade is very positive.  He's no "greybeard", but we already have plenty of draft picks and prospects. What we need are some guys who can also play right now.  While Bolland may not quite have evolved exactly the way I envisioned three years ago (not as much offense as I might have thought), he certainly should fit as a second-line center here in Toronto.

Is he actually more of an elite (at least very solid) third-line center?  Maybe.  But he should fit here, in terms of his all-around game.  You can't easily find players who are his age (27) with his experience and who have been an integral part of two Stanley Cup teams.  We've often talked in this space about needing players in our lineup who know what is required to make it far in the playoffs.

In Bolland's case, he has been part of two championship squads, which is invaluable experience to add to the Leaf roster- and our dressing room.

A sobering thought is that we had similar hopes when Kris Versteeg arrived here from the Hawks after their previous Cup season (when Chicago also faced cap issues), and that did not work out.  Also, Bolland will be a free-agent in a year, unless Toronto can extend him.

My guess:  the Leafs try to do just that, and they will let Tyler Bozak walk.


I guess I was less shocked than Roberto Luongo that he is still with the Canucks.  (He was apparently so stunned he declined to speak with the media after the trade was announced...)  It just felt more and more likely that Mike Gillis had no options for Luongo that would have been acceptable to Canuck fans. (Buying him out, leaving them with nothing, or trading him in a cap deal that wasn’t really a “hockey” deal…) So, dealing Schneider instead just made sense, at least to me. I believe I referenced that likelihood in this space a few months ago.

Vancouver got the 9th overall choice in return, and by all accounts, they selected a player who has a bright future.  So as much as Gillis has been chastised for having boxed himself in (though I’ll say it again:  wasn’t Luongo the guy who first said, after the playoffs in 2012, that it might be best if he was traded elsewhere?), maybe he has now bailed himself out.  If Luongo plays like he can, he is still an elite goaltender.  And it doesn’t sound like the Canucks were going to get a top-ten pick for Luongo, given his contract status, so this particular soap opera is over—unless Luongo decides he still wants out of town…)


I noticed that the Islanders got a guy who would look good in a Leaf uniform- gritty forward Cal Clutterbuck.  He will make the Islanders harder to play against, changing the dynamic in the Eastern Conference just a bit..


  1. The descriptions that I have read on Frederik Gauthier put me in mind of Bob Pulford. Pulford was an excellent defensively responsible center who could also score. He was an invaluable part of the Leaf Stanley Cup teams of the 60's.

    Most of the phenom forwards who are high draft picks seem to be goals and glory types who have to be taught after they turn pro that the game is played in both ends of the rink. It is refreshing to see the Leafs draft a big centre who is already accomplished defensively.

    Gauthier was not a sexy pick, much to the chagrin of many Leaf bloggers who were lobbying for Hunter Shinkaruk, but I believe he was an excellent choice. He has the opportunity to grow into a very important role on the Leafs and could become a fixture for years to come.

    I believe that the Bolland trade will be just as important to the Leafs as the McClement acquisition was to last year's team. He is an effective two way centre (when healthy)and an excellent penalty killer.

    I think Gillis was convinced that the Leafs had to have Luongo and asked for a kings ransom for him. When the Leafs refused to bite he was left with zero options for making a blockbuster trade. It was incredible how he seemed to ignore the salary cap implications that prevented other GMs from even considering Luongo. Gillis is and should be on a short leash in Vancouver. Many are asking whether the GM should have been fired instead of the coach.

    1. Hi Pete Cam- the Pulford reference is intriguing. I couldn't agree more that he was a hard-driving player and a defensive conscience on that Leaf roster in the late '50s and into the glory years of the '60s. If this young man has some of those traits, it would be something.

      It will forever be a crap shoot, I guess, when it comes to selecting 18 year-olds. While most of the players at the very top of the class usually pan out to some degree, down the list it's less certain, obviously.
      (As for what particular player some in Leafland wanted, I can understand the reaction. Many bloggers these days invest their time and talent evaluation skills on this stuff, and there are certain players they like, and feel would help the Leafs. But only time will tell if any of yesterday's Leaf picks will play and have an impact with the big club- or whether the players others thought would be good Leafs will pan out elsewhere..)

      I, too, like the Bolland move. We need upgrades, and as you say, if healthy, he should provide that. Thanks Pete Cam.

  2. By the way, Happy Canada Day, Michael, to you and to all the contributors to VLM.

  3. Michael,

    Great post, I was nodding along with your points as I read them. The only thing I would add is the difference between winning teams and the Leafs in the last 45 years is that other teams sometimes draft superstars with a pick other than number one. The Leafs have never drafted a league best calibre player in this way. The best diamond in the rough example you cite was Kaberle. An ok player despite the wholly one dimensional play. Just once I would like Toronto to be able to draft a Chara(56), Lidstrom(53), Mike Richards(24), Claude Giroux(22), lots more Red Wings, but I guess you get the point. The Leafs record drafting guys to make the NHL is fine, drafting difference makers is not so good. And honestly, its awful in this regard.

    I am not so thrilled with the Dave Bolland acquisition. The guy scored seven goals this year, he added seven assists as well. Why are we giving up assets for a guy who scores less than Clarke MacArthur did this season? These are the kinds of moves that kill me as a fan. Yes, he's gritty and we like some of the things he does. But, c'mon we gave up assets to get a guy that scored seven times playing with better players than he will play with in Toronto. I think McLaren might score seven times if Carlyle ran him over the boards for fifteen minutes a game.

    Wow did MIke Gillis ever watch this one blow up in his face. The coup de grace would be for Luongo to decide that he doesn't want to play in Vancouver anymore and demands a trade to Florida. From two goalies, to zero in a year. I thought Schneider was the guy who was able to get a giant return if traded. Guess not.

    Did you watch much of the draft? I watched very little as the commentary was nothing but, great pick, this guys a monster, they really hit it out of the park with that one. Five years from now most of the guys drafted yesterday could be appearing in a local where are they now piece. No one on television ever seems to mention that to the viewers. Where are the stats about prospects failure to make the NHL by draft position and team? That would be interesting to me.

    Happy Canada Day Michael, and to all your loyal readers. We have a great country.

    1. Happy Canada Day to you as well, Jim!

      To your last point, I could not take the coverage I did see. As you say, every pick (virtually) had skill and character and intangibles and was a "great kid". I don't know where all these guys end up, but it's not always in the NHL.

      I guess TSN feels the need to make this a happy occasion, and I get that. For the youngsters drafted, it is indeed a once in a lifetime event. No one wants to be reminded that so many will never really make it.

      I'm hoping the Bolland move goes north rather than south. But like most deals we'll only know once we see him play here and whether he is indeed what we need. (You may recall I've written many posts here in the past about players who we Leaf fans think look so good elsewhere but are not quite what we thought they were once they hit town. That said, Bolland does have a championship pedigree, so we'll see.

      I am probably inclined to be less critical of Gillis on this one. I still lay a lot of this on Luongo and his demands (at least as I understood his initial request). So if the center the picked at number 9 becomes a legitimate second-line NHL player, that's not bad when you're backed up against the wall. We're still not sure if Schneider is a great goaltender.

      At the very least it all gave us something to bat around! Thanks Jim...

    2. Michael,

      My only real question about the Bolland acquisition is this. How does getting Bolland and letting one of Bozak or Grabovski leave town improve the team? At 27 is Bolland a top line centre in third liners sweater? The older I get, the less I understand professional sports.

    3. I'm totally guessing here Jim but I sense the Nonis puzzle is still emerging. Bolland as a high-end third line center could be very good, with McClement on the fourth line, Kadri as a second line center and.....well, we're still looking for a number-one guy, it would seem. (In short, I have no idea if either or both of Bozak and Grabbo will be back. Neither to me is a first-line guy, though both bring something...)

  4. Without doubt, draft picks are slippery creatures. They represent potential roster players, development opportunities and trading chips for roster players (as in the recent Dave Bolland trade). At the end of the day, draft picks are commodities, valuable playing chips to be used wisely or not. Used wisely, draft picks will have a positive impact on the club’s roster either as developing players or to exchange for roster players. The immediate return in the Bolland trade, a proven, valuable NHL player, is easy to see. It is difficult to have an issue with that trade, particularly if the player is extended and not lost within a year to free agency. I have an issue however, with the volume of draft picks that Nonis is trading away. Like all Leaf GMs before him, he feels pressure to produce immediate results. He acquired at least one pick for Lombardi I think, but with each unnecessary trading of a draft pick it means he has one less playing chip to use.

    From my perspective the Bernier trade, sold as an “upgrade” was a dubious, problematic use of resources which included, (probably unnecessarily) a high second round pick. Ryan O’Bryne, two cups of coffee and another pick. Now Dave Bolland and yet another bucket of draft picks. In short, Nonis’ dolling out of draft picks is adding up and risks having an adverse effect on the development pipeline (I think he called it a development “grid” some kind of corporatespeak I suppose) and his ability to make deals in the future. The common argument that these picks have no value makes little sense. If they had no value the managers he is trading with would neither be insisting on them nor accepting them in the deals that they make. When I see a manager stocking up on draft picks I see a manager stocking the cupboard for future use and trade. When I see a manager emptying the cupboard I wonder about his management of resources. I worry about his long term vision and his management of resources. Make no mistake, draft picks are valuable resources. More often than not, the quote attributed to Branch Rickey comes to mind: “There is quality in quantity”.

    From the getgo, the Tuukka Rask trade was flat out stupid. Raycroft’s numbers at the time were so abysmal he was headed for either the minors or the waiver wire. I cannot think of an equivalent batsh** crazy move from Nonis, just a mixture of head shaking moves, good ones and “non-moves” that will either turn out well or not. Personally, I like the work of the amateur scouting department and would be inclined to give them as many draft picks as possible to work with. Up until the Jay McClement signing I was not impressed with the pro scouting, but that signing was extraordinary, to say the least. I guess, even more than a few days ago, the jury is out on Dave Nonis. The Bolland signing could turn out to be a coup. Then again, I would like to see the cupboard well stocked with draft choices for Dave Morisson to use in coming years or to be traded for roster players when trading them is the fortuitous move to make.

    1. As I was reading your comment, Bobby C., and you were talking about managers and assets, I could not help but think about Bill Belichick in football. (I'm not a Belichick guy...he just presents as so dismissive of, well, just about everyone. But he is successful, clearly.) He is constantly trading picks, but to acquire even more picks. He will often trade a late number-one for a second and a third, etc.. He knows that the more assets you have, the more some of those guys are likely to develop and he always has assets/picks to trade.

      I know hockey isn't football, but some principles are the same. Maybe I'm one of those who is too quick to cast aside the value of hoarding picks at times, but I do believe that you have to constantly replenish the cupboard. And yes, Nonis has had a recent propensity to deal picks, it seems. Is it because he feels we are close to contending, and now is the time to start selling off earlier-acquired assets to help get the team to the promised land?

      This is why, as they say, he gets the big bucks...Thanks Bobby- have a wonderful Canada Day!

  5. Good post Michael.

    We are beginning to see what a Nonis run team might be all about. A few weeks ago he said , and I paraphrase, a team is built around strength down the middle. A different approach than Blustery Brian's "you build from the net out".

    Nonis seems to be living the philosophy. His initial first round pick is a big centre with lots of shut down upside. He trades his second round pick for a proven , winning veteran centre who is strong defensively. He picks a centre at number three. He looks at goaltending sees nobody who has played a full season, with a top guy about to become a UFA and moves adding youthful potential and depth.

    He has traded six assets for two so we need to see it all play out. I am pleased that he has clearly identified what he thinks is important. Strength and depth a centre and goaltending is a rather bullet proof strategy, who can argue? Critically he is going about acting on what he sees as important needs. To this point he has not self immolated. No significant assets jettisoned, no absurd yoke-like contracts, nothing chancy to grab headlines with his first round pick.

    Don't know how it will all develop and play out but one has to be satisfied to this point that he has a sensible , tangible set of priorities and is acting on them in a seemingly responsible manner.

    It will take a few years for us to learn how effective his talent assessing skills are. So judgement day is a bit down the road but so far I am OK with the road he is on.

    Loved the Pully take by Pete cam!

    1. I was rasied back in the 50s/'60s by a sports-loving father who always spoke of strength down the middle, and that has long been a maxim in sports like hockey and baseball. I agree, Bmaximus, that Nonis has identified a need to be strong in net and at the center position and is making somewhat bold moves to shape the roster to what he sees as necessary. We may not all agree with all the moves, but he does seem to have a vision for what he feels is needed to be strong in the Eastern Conference.

      Not that long ago I was wondering aloud here about Nonis not having put his personal stamp on the team just yet. We can't say that any longer...

      As you note, it will all take time to play out. He has dealt away as number of picks over the past few months, but may feel, as I mentioned earlier, that the team is closer to contending status and is now much less in a 're-build' mentatility.

      At the very least we have some interesting moves to discuss. Thanks for posting, Bmaximus.

  6. Great article, as always.

    Unfortunately, I don't share much enthusiasm regarding Bolland's acquisition, and to a similar (mostly) extent, Bernier's too. Nice enough players, and young enough, but only marginal upgrades for their intended roles. Bernier could prove an exception, but I'm remembering another smallish 'goalie-of-the-future' once acquired by JFJ. He, too, played sparingly, a million miles from the media spotlight, and wilted like a flower shortly after arrival. Hopefully, I'll be proven wrong.

    The bigger issue for me, however, is that goalie and checking center were not terribly high priorities for the Leafs. Assets better used to help acquire a true #1 center and/or a minute-munching defenseman were spent on lesser deals. Are the recent acquisitions interesting players? Certainly. Do they significantly improve the Leafs? Not really. These are the types of guys that good teams develop within.

    The other issue is that, suddenly, draft picks are flying out the door like candy on Halloween. Over the next couple years, we're down a pair of 2nds and a pair of 4ths. Teams find good prospects in these rounds and we've dealt them for nominal, incremental gains. My sneaking concern is that Leiweke (the self-proclaimed "hands on" and "impatient" one) is exerting his non-hockey influence over hockey related decisions. Are we suddenly in hurry-up mode, courtesy of TL?

    The Leafs clearly will not acquire top-line talent through free agency. These players must be developed or acquired via trade. But instead of focusing on those deals, we're trading futures for marginal upgrades at positions of nominal/debatable need. It doesn't inspire confidence.

    Two trades don't tell the whole story, obviously. And I'm hoping that my instincts are wrong. But I'm sensing a shift in priority that seems wholly premature. Do we now buyout Grabovski to sign Weiss? That's where I worry we're heading. Window dressing. Sideways movement. Change for changes sake, hoping that something sticks. And while that's certainly not Nonis' M.O., what about Leiweke?

    Cheers, always.

    1. Like you, Anon, I have precious little enthusiasm for these business guys (see Leiweke) who see themselves as sports executives. They hit gold once somewhere, usually it has little if anything to do with them, other then they exert pressure by their presence. (Every sports executive wants to "win"; this guy is no different. And I will credit the GM's in LA, not this guy, for success the hockey Club has had. Same with the soccer club in LA...)

      I think you raise fair points about the deals we are seeing. Hey, they could turn out great. In Bernier's case, we are banking a lot on the notion that he is the next big thing in goal, because he was drafted high and that has been his reputation for years. We'll see.

      Bolland may be a nice upgrade. But as you well note, in the areas where we are still shockingly deficient (first-line center, stud defenseman) we have not moved an inch.

      But again, there are more moves to come, I'm sure. Thanks Anon!

  7. The Leafs absorbed a lot of criticism for trading away high picks, but it's because they didn't win with the players they acquired in those trades. If they had won, nobody would be talking about Brad Boyes. They would be talking about the Pat Quinn statue outside city hall that needs to be re-bronzed this summer!

    The Leafs are not the only team to sell sell sell when they thought they were in a position to win Lord Stanley's goblet. The Red Wings have traded away more first rounders than they've kept during their "run" as perpetual contender.

    Since their appearance in the '95 finals which kickstarted 4 cups and another cup final appearance through 2008, Detroit traded their first round draft pick 11 times. They didn't have a first round pick for four straight years ('01-'04), which translated into a cup in 2002. Four straight first rounders sacrificed for one cup. The price is high to be good!

    The Leafs weren't doing anything out of the ordinary. It simply didn't work out as good as it did for Detroit.

    1. We seem to be on a similar wavelength when it comes to trading away picks- when you have a real shot at success, Jason. That's why I often invoke the early 2000s as an example. I personally had no problem trading for Owen Nolan, for example, though that deal is somehow held up as an example of all that is wrong with the Leafs. Injuries unfortunately became a factor in that case, but on a really good team, he was precisely the type of gritty playoff performer the Leafs needed then. The cost, in my mind, was minimal.

      Sometimes you make a deal for a player (Kurvers for what turned out to be Niedermayer) and that hurts, sure. But that was a bad deal precisely because those Leafs were not in fact close to being a Cup team, and they ended up trading away what should have been a valuable building block.

      You're right about the Red Wings. They often deal out of the first round, like the Patriots in football. Both acquire even more assets, and are perennial contenders.

      Thanks for chiming in today, Jason!

  8. Hi Michael,
    Great post as always. I also liked and agreed with BMaximus's reply. As you both observed, Nonis is sticking to his vision of depth at C and goal. That being said, I couldn't help feeling sentimental about Reimer's unfortunate (re)position. You know I too am a 'Reimer guy.' Beyond being a fierce competitor, he seems to be a wonderful person off the ice. His handling of the Bernier acquisition (being the first to welcome his new teammate) speaks volumes about his attitude and character.

    However, I respect that Nonis is not overly sentimental or emotional when it comes to the business of building a winning team. His stated position that one can never be too strong in goal is completely reasonable. And who knows how things will play out (either of the two young, promising goalies could be traded for important pieces later next season; perhaps they do 'push' each other to excel..)?

    As for Bolland, I'm onboard with that move 100%. His two-time championship pedigree and shutdown abilities seem ideal to lead a very strong third line ahead of the already effective McClement. Maybe Bozak will be leaving town, freeing up more first-line scoring opportunities for Grabovski and/or Kadri. I know we would all like a 'true first-line C,' but how many of them can we name that fit the bill and are actually available/willing to come to Toronto... Maybe Lecavalier? In the meantime, Bolland will help improve the overall C via better defensive abilities than Grabovski, while perhaps scoring about as many points as Grabbo did this past year (pro-rated over 82 games). Plus, I think we can expect more points from Grabbo shifting to a more 'goal-oriented' (get it?) role on a top line than we could from Bozie. Hopefully Kadri can follow up this past season with comparable success, and everyone can stay healthy. Regardless, I think the Leafs' complement at C is better now than it has been any year since Sundin left.

    As for Gauthier, he seems to have the right skill set for a solid 2nd line C in the NHL. His size and reported back-checking skill would be great assets, as long as he is guided effectively though his development years. We also have another big centreman in Colbourne, who is waiting for a chance to play regularly in the NHL.

    I think we can agree that Leafs player development, not drafting, has been less than exemplary (see the Red Wings for the model of success). I believe it has improved of late, but losing Dallas Eakins doesn't help. His work with the Marlies has been a huge factor in the recent development of young players.

    As you said, more moves are likely to come, hopefully including some improvement at D. I wonder if Paul Ranger will want/be ready to rejoin the NHL with the Leafs.

    Happy Canada Day!


    1. Good to hear from you Matt (Matty D.)- I agree that sentiment isn't (and can't be, really) at the top of Nonis' priority list, as much as we, as fans, can "like" certain players. That's not his job, of course.

      While it's true that a team can't ever be "too strong" in goal, they can have less-than-ideal deployment in that area. I'll have to be convinced that two, young, emerging goalies who believe they both are "number-ones" can really work, whatever the public commentary might be. Only one guy can play at a tie and the guy sitting won't be happy for long.

      The Grabbo thing is hard to figure. I've always liked him but have been less enamoured of his work the past two seasons, though I realize many defend him to the hilt and lay it all at Carlyle's doorstep. But his "issues" are not just from this past season. It's been a downward slide, in my view, for quite a while. If he really can recapture his offensive prowess, that would help.

      I don't know what to make of the Ranger situation. He has the ability to be a top-four defenseman, but I'm not sure if he wants to be in the NHL. I guess we'll find out more at training camp.

      Happy Canada Day to you as well, Matt.