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Post July 1: Maple Leafs moving forward, backward or sideways? What’s the “plan”?

Almost by necessity, Leaf fans survive just about anything:  decades without a Stanley Cup, painful playoff near misses (1993; 2002), a history of ill-advised UFA signings; frequent management and coaching changes and rosters that too often seem to meet yesterday’s—not today’s—NHL requirements for success.

The organization’s activity around the draft and in the early moments of free-agency provide some window into their thinking, I suppose, but I’m not sure we know a lot more than we did a few weeks ago in terms of a “plan”.

The acquisition of Polak and Robidas, useful but limited players, may change our defense pairings but we thought the same thing a year ago when Paul Ranger and later Tim Gleason took up their post on the Leaf blueline.  Are we really better on the blueline, or will it depend on the much-maligned Carlyle “system” as we venture forward into the 2014-’15 NHL season?

I am certain James Reimer will be gone by September, if not before (though Calgary signing Hiller seems to eliminate the Flames as a possible destination).  The Leafs clearly know Reimer wants and needs a change of scenery and they would be wise not to keep an unhappy camper on the roster, especially at such a crucial position.  I think the moment they feel secure with the back-up situation behind Bernier, Reimer will be moved, almost regardless of the price. There is value—though not necessarily in terms of assets—in having a cohesive locker room.

Bolland leaving for Florida is no shock.  Some Leaf fans will miss the leadership and the Stanley Cup-winning playoff experience he brought over from Chicago. That said, if he signed for 5 and ½ million a year for five years, I sense most Leaf fans would have been very annoyed if the Leafs gave an injured, possibly past his prime  third-line center that kind of term and money.

What will be interesting for me is whether we can fill the center position with quality, because we are, in my view, lacking there right now.  (The signing of Leo Komarov does inspire hope, however, as he provides some of the edgy, agitating game the Leafs seemed to lack most of last season.) I will also be looking to see if the new “mix” on the blueline, with Robidas and Polak providing veteran experience to go along with Phaneuf back there, will help Gardiner and Rielly take the next step in their development.

I have neither a sense of optimism or pessimism as we work our way through the NHL off-season.  While the Leafs have a nice corps of talented players and promising youngsters in the pipeline, the reality is virtually every NHL team has the same.  A lot of teams have very good goaltending and a sturdier defense than Toronto and many have more effective third and fourth lines.  So while the Leafs have some players with solid experience, some with elite talent and also improving youngsters either on the roster or on the way, the hill ahead of this team is still pretty steep. This organization seems to want to keep their youngsters (which is a good thing), so developing those assets will be key.

This team will still need a much-discussed identity (most great teams have one), and must also find a way to play the game that players believe in and makes it difficult for the opposition to play against.

More changes are ahead, I’m sure.  But whether the Leafs will be significantly improved come September, it’s too early to know. In light of recent history, some Leaf fans will need more than a good start to the season to make them believers.


35 comments:

  1. so far michael, the buffalo sabres have certainly got the ball rolling in free-agency far more effectively than the leafs... lots of big deals and signings! it's pretty exciting. of course, there's something to be said about sitting back and watch other people make mistakes (ie. signing costly free-agents who then go on to sputter/fizzle-out). komarov's return to the leafs is nice, although it seems a tad pricey for an 'on-ice pest.'

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    1. Yes, I've noticed the Sabres have been very active, Alex- I'd like to see them bounce back. Great franchise, tremendous history and they make for a great rivalry with the Leafs- all the better when both teams are at the top of the Conference.

      Komarov should help. They need a good agitator.

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  2. Hi Michael,

    first of all I am very happy the Leafs did not one of the crazy deals we saw so many of today.

    We think the same about Reimer.

    Price and term for Bolland is rediculous, thank god the Leafs did not sign him.

    One pice is missing on our back end but our D will be segnificantly better.
    The system, or the way they play is utterly important! And a better D corps will never makeup for "system" problems.
    I've wrote a lot about it in my comment on the draft article. They have to be more organized and play smarter all over the ice. Not only their defensiv "system" also their offensiv "system" needs renewal.

    Franson will be dealt and there will be significant return that will include the center we need.
    But it is true ,the center position is our weak spot now. And there will be addition via free agency at center too.
    And we still miss a D-man that can lock heavy minutes beside Dion. Therefore they aproached Georges but that deal never happened. And the Boyle rumors also went into thin air.

    For some time Burke/Nonis only collected young, high picked talent other teams could do without.
    But without attention if it fits together or not, he only wanted to speed up the way to collect talent.
    They now have identified the players they want to go with and they now try to build around them for that everybody can play to his strength. So there is an identifyable plan.
    Shanahan know's that you need structure and types of players that fit together.

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    1. Hi Marcus- Nonis knows they know they need help and I'm guessing more trades are planned. I think most fans are OK if they don't overspend on UFAs this summer.

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  3. Michael,

    To steal a line from Hendrix, the Leafs seem to be existing, nothing but existing. I don't get a whole lot of warm fuzzy feelings from what Nonis did today, but at least he didn't cripple the franchise by giving Bolland what he got in Florida. That contract for a guy who is coming off a career threatening injury approaching 30, made me laugh out loud today. To be fair, I probably shouldn't have laughed, Nonis was willing to go to 5x5, also clearly insane for a guy who has never topped 50 pts, and hasn't been above 40 since 08'/09'

    I know that I have gone down this road before, but didn't Robidas just break his leg twice last season? Three years for him, maybe three years ago that makes sense. Today, not so much in my opinion. More of the Leafs paying guys for what they used to do, instead of what they can do going forward.

    There is a need at centre ice in Toronto, has been the refrain forever it seems, still is. They did nothing to improve themselves at that position. Those guys in Dallas though, they sure do seem able to add talented centres, must be nice.

    Is anyone sure why bad teams continue to pay huge amounts of money for grit, character, leadership? How is it determined that Komorov is worth almost $3 million, while Tanner Glass is a $1.5 guy, and Engelland gets almost $3 mil as well? It all seems so made up to me, like no one actually knows how much these kinds of players are really worth to their teams success. So GM's just go, ok, that seems about right, other teams are offering you stuff too, so at least I'm not alone here offering you a boat load of money to not score goals.

    Two of the very best teams in the League did almost nothing today, Chicago and LA. I'm sure that has nothing to do with them being good/great, the fact that they don't panic and overpay grinders on Free Agent Frenzy day. I'm really surprised that one of these GM's doesn't sign an alpaca in all the confusion, all the while trying to explain that they got the last one. Sorry for the TV reference, lady friend loves Modern Family, it grew on me.

    I don't hate what Komorov brings to the team, I actually quite like his level of animosity towards the opposition. I'm not convinced that he is a better hockey player than someone like Kulemin however. I am baffled that teams can't foster/develop/make their young players, ones who aren't talented enough to get top line minutes, play this way. I think Sutter in LA does, not sure why others are unable to get guys to do the little things.

    I still have no idea what the plan is that Shanahan has put forward from upon high. The fact that I can't make heads or tails of the direction, isn't really new for me here. It's been a long time since I felt that the Leafs were being run in a way that didn't make me think of inmates, and asylums.

    The lack of depth at centre ice is troubling. Not sure why the Leafs haven't paid more attention to drafting guys at centre ice, the need in Toronto is longstanding. I wonder if they think about who they could have drafted with all the picks they fritter away? There are still a few useful players available if the Leafs feel that they need to go down that road, I think they should. Last year a couple of injuries were catastrophic, although we learned Kulemin was a capable centre. Steve Ott on a cheap deal makes sense, pretty sure he's gritty enough.

    As it sits today, this team seems equally capable of making a run for the playoffs, or tanking in a horrific enough fashion to get a number one draft pick. I honestly have no idea where this ship is headed, strictly along for the ride, beware of icebergs would be the only caveat. Sitting back and enjoying the ride the team embarks upon this summer will have to do. I won't complain if they are awful, that McDavid kid is supposed to be real and spectacular.

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    1. Well Jim, July 1 never seems to disappoint when it comes to NHL GMs spending money, eh? Most Leaf fans are likely happy Nonis did not sign any long-term deals, at least!

      At some point they will have to upgrade at centre, agreed.

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  4. I didn't hate it. The Leafs added speed, grit and veteran Dmen.

    I have always liked Frattin and thought him one of the few players that improved under Carlyle. Frattin is a beautiful skater and he showed some offensive creativity when given the chance, though inconsistently.. I think it benefits Kadri to have his Marlie friend back and may quiet the Kadri trade rumours. I thought this group challenged and motivated each other very well two years ago. They were fun to watch.I don't like losing D'Amigo but I think Frattin may have a little something more.

    We all expected Kulemin to go this first day. I wouldn't mind having him back, myself.

    Franson did not sign his qualifying offer. I'm not sure if that means anything. CN

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    1. Kulmin is a wild card, it seems, Colleen. Not sure what his plans are.

      I liked Frattin a lot as well, though he seemed to struggle this past season. I'm guessing Franson is elsewhere next season.

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    2. Hi Colleen,

      making him a qualifying offer means only that the Leafs want to retain his rights and they did by doing so.Franson not signing it means he wants more money.Michael is right he will be elsewhere next season. They will trade him and get a good return for him.
      I like Frattin but this trade is a bit mind boggling.

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    3. Thanks Marcus. That's what I thought.
      After saying I 'd like Kulemin back, I thought about it again. Signing more 3rd and 4th liners will not make the Leafs better. There's money left, possible package deals to offer. Hope we find someone special in the coming weeks. Colleen

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    4. Thanks Colleen. I don't think there will be some significant change. It is about making the bottom six better. Some Marlies will get a chance and some free agents will be added. We need more depth at center. And we need someone to play with Dion. Perhaps there is the spot for something more special. Franson will be dealt and there will be a good return. Shanahan really needs to see what he has. Not only on Video.
      A lot depends on changing the way they play.

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  5. When I came online and saw the tweet that Komarov had been signed to a 4 year deal, I was pleasantly surprised that it had happened and felt 'vindicated' in my assessment that he was more of a catalyst in the team's short season success than management had previously seen... then I saw the numbers...

    I was shocked that they had agreed to a million more than I thought they would (and about 3/4 M more than I originally thought it would take for a maximum deal). There must have been some competition for his services! But, with Bolland getting insane numbers in FLA, I guess there was more intangible/leadership money in the pot than originally anticipated.

    In time, I think the rising cap (along with Leo's play) will obliterate the sense of 'overpayment' in due course, so long as he does his thing and rises to the greater role that his contract should require of him. I believe he is up to the task, and glad that he is back.

    I was shocked to see D'amigo sent out of town, yet believe Frattin has higher potential if he can recapture where he was headed previously (seems the trip to LA/Columbus didn't really help him, however, it may have given him time to fully recover from the knee injury before the trade... he really didn't seem like the same player when he returned from that injury. Hope he's fully recovered now, though. Kinda' think Nonis is of the same mind on this one).

    Still, there's work to be done and I wonder what will happen with Franson, Reimer (even Lupul according to some rumours) and Phaneuf (now that some signing bonuses have been paid, making the latter two potentially more attractive). Is there a Center in the mix? Or will we see some kids with huge opportunity?

    I think it likely that there will be at least one more trade (with a few 'parts') and a late free agent signing (to create more competition in camp at center - seems like the M.O. here - and if a Marlie beats out said signing for a position, then we have another trade chip in this dog eat dog world)

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    1. Komarov does look like an overpayment, InTimeFor62, for someone who won't likely provide much offense. But if he "does his thing", as you say, he will help.

      Frattin is someone a lot of us liked- can he be the player some of us thought he could be?

      More moves ahead, for sure.

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  6. "Are we really better on the blueline.."

    Probably, Polack is a clear upgade from Gleason and Robidas should be a slight upgrade from Gunarrson.

    "or will it depend on the much-maligned Carlyle “system” as we venture forward into the 2014-’15 NHL season?"

    Carlyle will be gone by Christmas, if it doesn't work.

    I think we have mostly moved sideways, perhaps Clarkson bounces back, but the draft of Nylander gives me hope. Nylander is a non-CHL player so he can play on the Marlies and can move up and down. Nylander was also the most skilled player in the draft, so it was good to see that we didn't draft another Biggs. The success of Morgan Reilly gives me more confidence in the scouting staff and Nylander, who might develop ahead of schedule.

    The most important thing is that we resisted the temptation to do something risky or stupid. No Clarkson this year. Orpick and Bolland got too much money, but from another team.

    That being said, I could see the Leafs improving this year and making the playoffs. I think the East has gotten easier. Chara is a year older and slower. Boston has lost Iginla and made no improvements. Montreal has dismantled part of itself. Ottawa lost Spezza and Hemsky. Buffalo won't be ready.

    Clarkson could bounce back. Frattin and Komorov could jell. Granberg, Leivo or Carrick have played well in the AHL and could surprise. Perhaps the ultra-skilled Nylander shows us something by Christmas?




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    1. I do think the East has a lot of teams that could go either way, DP. Boston may begin to slide and Ottawa and Montreal, as you note, will have their own question marks, as will other teams.

      I do think Clarkson could offer a lot more this season. Still a lot of "ifs", though, as I said the other day.

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  7. Your second paragraph is the problem. I would be happier with a "plan" I disagree with than a total absence of any type of blueprint.

    I was pleased to learn of Komarov's return but, as was noted several times on a different Leafs blog that I do not hold in particularly high esteem, the team could have re-signed Raymond on basically the same terms.

    That said, as much as you don't win the Cup on July 1, you don't lose it either. I'll wait and see. But so far the moves made have done nothing but contribute to my opinion that Nonis is in over his head. I really miss Burke, which brings me back to my second sentence. I liked what he was trying to do with the team and I wish he had been given an opportunity to finish it. But even if I had disagreed I would have still liked him because he was the first Leafs GM I can remember who seemed to have some sort of vision for the future.

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  8. All things considered I was probably a little disappointed today that the Leafs were not able to make a deal that would have had me pumped up all summer looking forward to next season. At the same time I was glad Bolland was not resigned because he was never a fast skater to begin and he could be slower next year so that is too big of a gamble for that type of money. The Frattin deal might surprise a few people though now that I think about it. Frattin showed a lot of intensity, speed and skill at times with the Leafs but things didn't work out for him in lala land and maybe he can get his game back to where it was when he was with the Leafs. I still remember seeing Frattin score a few nice goals including a game winner where he skated the length of the ice and showed some real speed and beat a few defenders along the way. If we get that Frattin then the Leafs won that trade by a lot.

    I'm not sure what to think about Robidas but maybe he will add some stability on the back end if he can stay healthy. But I keep wondering when are they going to give all these up and coming kids a chance to play and develop their game? If they have so many promising young defensemen like Granberg and Percy they need to play and get experience.

    I like Komorov and I think he might be the sparkplug that can get the who team going. Kind of like a Tie Domi that doesn't do stupid things and fight but really gets the opposition off their game. I also noticed Komorov in the Olympics for Finland and couldn't hep thinking he was a lot better than his Leaf replacement Clarkson. Now if Clarkson gets his game back the Leafs could have a not so friendly relaxing team to play against so now I am starting to get a little pumped the more I think about this coming up next season.

    Just wanted to make a comment about your post on Rielly from a few days ago. I remember Burke saying afterwards that Rielly was the best player in the draft and the Leafs never had any intentions of moving up in the draft to take anybody else because Rielly was the best player and they wanted him and they also knew because of his knee injury he was almost guaranteed to be available at the 5th pick. He said they were ready to trade up in the draft to get him but decided they wouldn't have to. He also said the Leafs scouts made the decision and he had nothing to do with it but he trusted his scouts. So two years ago it sounded to me like the usual GM talk after a pick but after watching Rielly this year I think Burke was giving his honest opinion. I'd also say the Leafs scouting staff got it right and were also pretty confident Rielly would still be there at the 5th pick so they also they also guessed correctly what other teams would do.

    On this last draft Nonis was not quite so high on Nylander as Burke was on Rielly but he did say Nylander was the player they wanted and I am assuming that was based on picking 8th. He said if Nylander was not there they would have traded the pick and moved down in the draft so my take is the Leafs had no intention at any time to pick Nick Ritchie. So yesterday I was listening to Hockey Central and Don Cherry just totally trashed the Leafs for picking another small European kid when they could have had big 6'2" Niick Ritchie who he guaranteed would be better than Leaf pick Nylander. Now I actually don't know anything about either of them but after listening to Cherry I found a youtube video of Nylander highlights and I have to say this kid has some real skill and it really is hard not to see the Patrick Kane comparisons. My guess is he will take a few years like Kadri but I would go with the Leafs scouts over Don Cherry on this one.


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzU3AvIAidY



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    1. Frattin is an intriguing player, Alton. He's not a kid anymore, but some guys develop later and that's OK. He did some good things earlier with the Leafs.

      My guess is the Leafs figure Percy and Granberg need a bit more time in the minors but yes, before too long they will need a chance to play with the big club.

      Rielly just has that extra something that the very best players have. Like you, I don't know much about Nylander. I do think for the pick to really work like we hope he will have to be more than just another skilled guy. We do need skill, but we also need really elite talent. If he is that, then no one will miss the players the Leafs might have picked instead.

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  9. Watching the draft and now free agent signings, I was left with the song running through my head "Is that all there is?".
    First I was confused that the Leafs did not see one player from the OHL who they felt was worth drafting. Now I'm wondering why two of the moves they made brought back players they let go a couple of years ago.
    I can't tell if they are already thinking of tanking or think their letdown the two last springs was an aberration, but bringing back Carlyle says to me it is the latter.
    In the worst case scenario they play just well enough to be the final team qualifying for the playoffs. In my best case scenario, they are as bad as I think they may be and get lucky in the draft lottery.

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    1. I think the brass believes the team is better than they finished last season, Steve. They are more tweaking than many any fundamental changes it seems at this point.

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  10. I agree that July 1 is just one part of building your team, Oliver. If we did an analysis, I wonder if as many teams as not, including the Leafs, have misplayed their hand on July 1 over the years.

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  11. More teams SCREW UP their team on July 1 than any other day. Fewer teams MAKE their team on July 1 than any other day. How many UFA signings over the years, that were called by the self professed experts the best of the available, ever really worked out to the level of expectations? Especially considering most all of them were over paid due to the nature of July 1?? For me the smartest moves on July 1 are filling out the role players which tend to come with a more reasonable price tag and term. I think the Leafs had a good day because there was no stupid signings.

    You can argue they overpaid some for Komorov but I honestly believe he has a bit more upside offensively than he showed in his first and ONLY NHL season to date and it was the lock out shortened season to boot. He was also on the PK that season when it was successful and we know from last season that needs a ton of help. I think we will look back in a couple of seasons at the Komorov signing and either say that was ok or that was a great signing. I really don't think we will look back and say that was a bad signing.

    I am ok with seeing Frattin back if he is over this injury problems. If not I don't like giving up D'Amigo for him.

    I am good with the Robidas signing. Yeah he probably got 1 extra year than i would like to see for a player that age but he had one of his best years last year prior to another fluke injury in Anaheim. He is the type player that skating was never his strength so losing a step with age will not kill his game. He is a good passer that reads the play extremely well and is a complete warrior for his team. And it sounds like everyone talks about his leadership skills. We can use pretty much all of those traits.

    Bolland? chasing the cash?? good bye. enough said.

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    1. Hi Pep- I do think Komarov will help. And Robidas may indeed provide (as a defenseman, I realize) a bit of the leadership and sandpaper a Gary Roberts brought a decade or more ago. If fans keep their expectations in line, he may be a pleasant surprise. Same with Polak.

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    2. Right, I missed Polak.

      I actually didn't mind the Polak trade that much. I liked Gunnar. He has been a good guy for this team for a while now. But he has had some major hip issues that really impacted his game this past year and it seems players rarely ever totally over that injury.

      And sometimes it is addition by subtraction. Polak will be a shut down guy in the 4/5/6 range. He was lower in St. Louis but they have a pretty good corp to push him that low.
      So by moving Gunnar ,for essentially an upgrade on Ranger, Nonis is making room on the top pair for one of Gardiner or Reilly. If Gunnar is still around you know Carlyle is going to keep playing him with Phaneuf because...well, he is Carlyle and he never changes. Now the young guys who totally deserve a chance to move up will get one.

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  12. My concern is that the Leafs are still fiddling around with third line options as they did last off-season and not bringing in offensive skill for the first two lines. If they can't bring in a top center, then I would like to see a better winger for the 2nd line--someone who can actually create offense rather than just going along for the ride.

    Kessel can create offense out of thin air. He's the player who, after so many years of just watching games, has me moving to the edge of my seat when he's on the ice. Some question his fitness but I think Phil is like a quarter horse. ( can't be beat over a short distance) or a car with a nitro switch. He can come out of no where with an incredible burst of speed, beat everyone in front of him and have the puck in the net in seconds. It's done before the opposing team can react. At this point he's expended his energy, he has nothing left for back-checking. ( Michael, you mentioned this in an earlier post so I made a point of watching him.) Kessel, I think, is a very unique player and could use better support. Overworking him, as he was many times this year, takes away his energy and ability to do what he does best.

    I'd hate to see another season where most of the Leafs offense depends on the 1st line , which means Kessel. We've never seen how bad the Leafs would be without him but we've seen what happened when he was over-worked and playing on an injured foot. I think we ask far too much of this player and have for years. It was kind of sad to see him take the blame on himself for the team's failure.

    I'm glad the Leafs have recognized that Phaneuf has been doing too much and they've addressed that but Kessel could also use a little help. I hope young Nylander proves to be the answer.CN

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    1. Leaf fans will remember that when Sundin was in his Leaf prime, he rarely seemed to have the kind of support he needed. Kessel works well with his current linemates, but you're right, Colleen, we won't want to look back and feel we should have done more to help him.

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    2. I think there will be no addition for the second line that will blow you away. If something plays out, perhaps. And there are some free agents that could be a bargain later in the summer or one of the young guys blows us away at trainig cap. But there won't be a trade for a skilled second line player. The focus is really on improving the bottom six. Scoring depth is the key and it will be better next year. And that takes something of Phil's shoulders.
      And I really think the second line has something to proof. Lupul will be on the left side the whole season so there is no excuse and Kadri has really to show what kind of guy he is. This is the year that counts for him. Last year the second line was hiding in the bushes for lon g stretches. It is their turn this year! They hung the first line out to dry. They have to provide a second layer of scoring and we will know a lot more after this season.
      Take care Colleen.

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  13. I can't get upset about the lack of movement yesterday. No bad long term signings is already an improvement over previous years. Also, there are 98 days until the season openers; plenty of time to fill obvious holes.

    July first is generally a crazy wasteful day as many general managers seem to lose perspective in their desire to make the big splash. Yesterday was even crazier, fueled by a $51m floor which caused teams like Florida (Boland) and Buffalo (Gianta) to overspend. Leafs never had a chance to sign Boland at a reasonable make-sense price once Florida set their sights on him.

    I don't lament the loss of Raymond as I definitely feel that they need grittier wingers. I loved the Komorov signings. I like Frattin and would like him more if he would revert to his college demeanor. I would like to retain Kuliman but it looks like he wants to join Malkin in Pittsburgh. I would also like to see the Leafs sign Ott but I fear he may go back to Buffalo.

    As presently constituted, the Leafs would struggle to make the playoffs but it is far too early to make a judgment. I believe that we will see a far different team come October.

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    1. Hi Pete Cam- I'm with you on Ott. I've long liked (or hated, if you know what I mean) how he plays. He would make us harder to play against right away, especially with Komarov returning.

      And yes, sometimes July 1 is a good day if you don't over spend!

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  14. Here's something amusing--Claude Giroux has been arrested in Ottawa for REPEATEDLY grabbing a police officer's backside. I guess the words " stop that! " wasn't enough.

    Also Frattin signed for 800,000 per year/ 2 years. CN

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    1. Was it a male or female officer? :)))

      Good contract both ways for Matt. If they have to send him down anything under 950 or 975K will not count against the cap. For Matt he gets 2 years of term and not just 1.

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    2. Male. .......New Canada Day tradition?

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  15. To me the Leafs biggest deficiency was in their defensive play, period. Not just the defencemen, but everyone. I think they addressed that with the addition of Robidas and Polak, and the subtraction of Gunnarson, Ranger, Gleason and possibly Franson. I think the person who steps up to take Gunnarson's minutes will be Gardiner.

    Unless there is a deal they have 5 of their top 6 set with Kessel, Bozak, JVR, Kadri and Lupul. I expect Clarkson to have a bounce back season to claim the #6 spot.

    They have bottom 6 parts in place with Holland, Komarov and Frattin. They need a depth centreman and I expect, barring any more deals, that players from the Marlies will get the chance to fill in the other spots.

    I hope Carlyle starts to realize you need 4 lines at times during the season. I seem to recall reading the leafs play rested teams while they are playing the 2nd night of a back to back 14 times this season. I know if you ask the players getting the ice time they would say going with 3 lines is great but I think too many teams have proven you need 4 lines today.

    My biggest concern this season is the same as last year. Depth!. I said at the start of the season they had a pretty good team for the east barring injuries to key players, and I think I was correct in that assumption. They do not have the depth to overcome injuries to key players.

    Last thing I want to mention is goaltending. My gut instinct is their new back up goalie at the beginning of season will be......................James Reimer. There are 1.6 million reasons.

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  16. Stan- yes, the bottom six should be better with Komarov and Frattin. Holland and Ashton should be able to contribute as well.

    Depth will be a challenge again, for sure.

    I'd rather Reimer get a shot elsewhere but you may be right.

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