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Hall-of-Fame surprises; pre-draft trades gather steam; when does the Leaf shoe drop?

For a few years I’ve been hoping, as I posted yesterday, that Dino Ciccarelli would earn election to the NHL Hall-of-Fame. So I was pleased to see the former Minnesota, Washington and Detroit winger get the nod.  He was a real piston on the ice and had a long and productive career.

I am not stunned that Joe Nieuwendyk did not get in. While certainly an outstanding player with Stanley Cup pedigree and an impact player, he still didn’t scream first-ballot. But his day will no doubt come, sooner than later.

I have to admit to being a bit shocked this time about Doug Gilmour. I wasn’t always the world’s biggest Gilmour fan but could only marvel at the way he played in Toronto. I wonder if the fact that he played in so many different places has mitigated support for him? Don’t know. But for me, he was, based on the ten best years of his career, a Hall-of-Fame player. Again, he was not a slam dunk, but is deserving—especially in light of some of the selections made over the years.

Steve Simmons provided a perspective in the Toronto Sun that I’ve not seen anywhere else—that Mark Howe should be, but is among those seldom thought of in terms of Hall-of-Fame consideration. It’s true, Gordie’s son was a solid, if unspectacular player with the Flyers, and later in his career with the Wings. The fact that he was never on a Stanley Cup champion should have nothing to do with whether he deserves to be in the Hall. Lots of people are in the Hall who don’t have a “ring” and rightfully so. He was good enough to play pro at 18 and excel, and was a fine all-around player in the WHA and the NHL. I’m just not sure he was among the very best of the best.

I was pulling for Bure and Verbeek, two very different types of players, but they were not elected this time around, either. They may stay on the bubble for a while.


I love the Nathan Horton trade for Boston. I think that’s exactly what they need, another power forward (who can score) who just may find his complete game in a traditional hockey market—and in an organization that may provide some stability for him. I always wonder what’s behind these deals. From Florida’s perspective, the odds of them getting a player of Horton’s caliber at 15 overall seems remote. Horton is certainly the best player in the trade. Tallon—who build the Hawks into champions—is generally considered a shrewd guy so I don’t know what’s up. On the surface, it’s a great deal for Boston, if Horton plays like he can.

I wonder if the Habs will rue the day they signed Tomas Plekanec to a long-term deal at 5 million a year? Will he thrive with a new contract, or become a player that Montreal desperately tries to move in two years because he is underperforming and has a contract no one wants?


With the draft only hours away, Leafs fans will be waiting anxiously to hear what Burke will get in return for Kaberle. As I’ve written previously, keeping the un-wanted Karberle in Toronto would create an untenable situation and lead to huge problems on and off the ice.

That said, Leaf enthusiasts will be terribly disappointed if the Leafs don’t walk away from the draft weekend with a young top-six forward in tow. That may not be realistic, though. Last year, Burke opened the door of hope by intimating publicly he would try to do something big, like acquire the Islanders’ choice so he could select John Tavares.  It didn't happen.

Now, expectations in Leafland are pretty high. Enough references have been made to getting back into the first round that we now expect it. It would be disappointing not to have a first-round pick to feel hopeful about.

In the same breath, it would be palatable to Toronto supporters as long as the Leafs walked away with a bona fide offensive forward via trade.

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