Friday, February 29, 2008

Amateur Scouting Report: Tobias Stephan

When the Dallas Stars took Tobias Stephan 34th overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, they knew what they were getting. At 6'2" 190, Stephan is a tall and skinny young goaltender who plays mainly a stay-at-home butterfly style, with some floppiness to his game. He is currently playing for the AHL's Iowa Stars after spending 4 years with Kloten of the Swiss League.

Tonight, he was on his game. The "Baby"-Stars picked up a 6-0 win over the Hamilton Bulldogs on "Carey Price Bobblehead Night", with Stephan getting the shutout. Stephan wasn't too busy, facing only 23 shots, but stopping them all. The lackluster Bulldogs' offense only managed shots from the outside, a goalie's dream. Stephan was very square, but did not challenge very much. He stayed deep in his net, but kept the rebounds to a minimum.

He uses his long legs to his advantage, spreading them out low on point shots, virtually eliminating all goals from that area. His glove hand is not exceptionally great, but it's passable. His strength could also use some work, being only 190 pounds, he could really benefit from adding some muscle.

Stephan wears a Tim Thomas-like "Mage" helmet, that really bugs me. I prefer the classic goalie helmet a lot more. He was also called up for a brief stint this season with Dallas, losing 2-1 in overtime to Chicago on October 13th, 2007, so you may have heard his name. His future also looks very bright, as Mike Smith was traded to Tampa Bay at the deadline, leaving the back-up spot open if the Stars decide to dump Johan Holmqvist.

As for the Bulldogs side of things, it wasn't pretty. Yann Danis did not come out for the 3rd period, after letting in 5 goals. Fatigue was definitely an issue, and penalties really killed the Bulldogs. Cedrick Desjardins, who I interviewed earlier this season, got the nod for the 3rd period, and allowed 1 goal. He stopped 3 breakaways and made on left toe save on what many thought was a sure goal. Now the Desjardins has the full-time backup spot in Hamilton (Due to the Huet-to-Washington deal) he was looking to make an impression, and he played well. I would definitely give him the next start, especially since one of the goals on Danis was a dump in which he bobbled, and was banged in by an Iowa forward.

To conclude, Tobias Stephan is another young, promising goaltender playing in the "A." His future is in his hands, like most young netminders. His situation in the Stars' organization bodes well for him, and he should compete for the NHL back-up job in Dallas next season.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Chin Up: Better Days Ahead

After a long and suspenseful NHL Trade Deadline, Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher felt the ripple effects from former GM, JFJ. With Bryan McCabe, Mats Sundin, Tomas Kaberle, Darcy Tucker and Pavel Kubina all refusing to waive their respective no-trade clause agreement, “Silver Fox’’ had to chip away the outer core.

Hal Gill, Chad Kilger and Wade Belak are no longer Toronto Maple Leafs’. In exchange, the Leafs ended up acquiring a 2nd, 3rd, and two 5th round picks at the end of the day. Hardly enough to bolster up a future for an abysmal Leafs club, but it’s a start. Cliff has sent a message this afternoon, and its music to my ears. “One thing I can assure you is that the face of the Maple Leaf hockey team come opening game in October will be different than it is right now. We have to change this team to move forward” said a frustrated Fletcher. As disappointing as this day was for him, this quote should bring chills to your spine, especially the last sentence.

Where Fletcher separates from the familiar Leafs attitude is realism. He doesn’t care that they are 6 points out and he has now made it clear he wants a good draft choice. All hope is gone for this club and Fletcher knows what needs to be done. Mark my words, he will lay a much better foundation for the next GM of this hockey team and Leafs fans everywhere will be able to wave the Leafs logo with some pride.

While you may think the subtractions to the team will not end the Leafs playoffs hopes…think again. What Cliff has done is eliminate the Leafs best defensive defenseman and most reliable defensive forward. It’s an area where this club has faltered even with those two. Expect to see a frustrated Vesa Toskala is all I have to say.

With that said, expect to see another defenseman on his way out in the summer. Kubina will no longer hold a NTC agreement in his contract if the Leafs miss the playoffs this season, an outcome which will surely happen. With Bryan McCabe and Tomas Kaberle all tied up, moving a pricy Kubina is going to be a move Fletcher can really benefit from. Not only will he clear up 5-million dollars in cap space, but he will clear a spot on the back-end for a young d-man, whether it is Staffan Kronwall or Phil Oreskovic.

What you also have to keep in mind is that the Leafs will more than likely host a team with no Mats Sundin next season. Add in a young and inexperienced defense core and this team will struggle tremendously to make the playoffs, or better yet, get out of the Eastern Conference basement.

Players like Tucker, McCabe and Kaberle may refuse to leave the club, but with some well strategized tweaking it is very likely the Leafs can turn this thing around. In 3 or 5 years, preferably 5, things may be glowing with optimism and playoff-like atmosphere.

Chin up.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Don't Hate On Jaromir

As the trade deadline approaches, Rangers fans begin to wonder about what Glen Sather will do. Will he pick up a big player? Will he dump Malik or Mara? The biggest question mark is Jaromir Jagr. He doesn't seem to have much in the tank or much durability in the rear fender. He has scored only 16 goals and 38 assists in 63 games and does not seem prone to break out of his slump any time soon. Every player gets worn down with time and this seems to be Jagr's time. It would make sense to dump him now for something as opposed to losing him for nothing to free agency.

On the other hand, the Rangers are playing very well having jumped into a tie for 6th place in the Eastern Conference and sitting only 7 point behind the division leading Devils. They have gone 9-3-2 since January 22 and have seemed to put offense, defense and goaltending together. More importantly, they have played a solid, full game on every night with the only exception being the Montreal Massacre. Jagr's line, if not he himself, has been producing well. Dubinsky has thrived on a line with Avery and Jagr. A shakeup at this stage of the game, especially on the top line, may be more destructive than beneficial.

That, along with other internal and external deadline trades, is what Glen Sather must decide on Tuesday and that will decide whether Jaromir Jagr will be wearing the blue sweater in Carolina on Thursday.

You may want a trade and you may not, but either way, don not forget what Jaromir Jagr means to this New York Rangers organization. 54 goals, 69 assists and 123 points. It is hard to remeber the days when Jagr's production was so high but it was only two years ago that Jagr was voted MVP by the players. His monstrous year carried a young and relatively untalented team to their first postseason since 1997. His stats were worthy of may awards and he seemed a shoo in for the Hart, Rocket Richard and Art Ross trophies until all three awards were heisted by the dynamic duo of Joe Thornton and Jonathan Cheechoo on the last day of the season. He broke Adam Graves' single season goal record and John Rattelle's point record. Most importantly, he carried this team to the playoffs on his back and ended a painful drought. Everybody was calling for him to be made captain. And he was.

Jagr didn't stop there. He posted 30 goals and 66 assists in the next season and with the help of new Ranger Brendan Shanahan led a fearsome offense to Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He led this team as the captain past Atlanta and 7.7 seconds away from a 3-2 lead on the #1 Sabres. The first playoff berth, win and series win since 1997 had been captured thanks to Jaromir. He was our captain just one year ago. Now he has become our cancer as the stubborn Rangers fans (myself included) love to toss away useless old ones.

Lets face it. Without Jaromir Jagr, the Rangers do not make the playoffs in 2006. They almost certainly do not make it in 2007 either. Without Jagr, Adam Graves would still hold the single season goals record and Rattelle would hold the single season points record. Glen Sather would trade away youth to improve the team now and we might not have Staal, Tyutin, Girardi, Dubinsky, Callahan, Prucha and Dawes to name a few. The Rangers would not be talented now and prepared for the future. Jaromir Jagr may need to be traded, but don't forget how much Jagr did for this team, regardless of his bad habits and attitude. Jaromir Jagr saved the Rangers. Be grateful for that and cheer for him in this tough stretch. He may not be able to lead us to a Stanley Cup but he build the foundations for this team to do so. Wherever he ends up, I wish him luck.

Jaromir Jagr is not my scapegoat. He is my hero.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

The List: Buyers and Sellers

As the Trade Deadline approaches, GM’s around the NHL are gearing up for one of the most exciting days of the NHL schedule. It is the day where teams must decide their fate and either give the fans hope or preserve it for the years ahead.

While teams decide their fate, so will GM’s. It’s an emotional, nerve racking affair for them; a last chance at redeeming their mistakes in the off-season. The pressure that resides in this event is what often pushes GM’s to make a pitch for a rent-a-player, which can all-too-often damage the future. Just ask the Atlanta Thrashers who dealt considerable youth for Keith Tchakuk, or the Nashville Predators who dealt a core of youngsters to the Flyers for often injured Peter Forsberg. Where are they now? Well, nowhere near the team they got traded to.

Still, teams are willing to take that chance, and give a volt of energy to fan bases that crave it come April. Perhaps it is what makes the day so special, the consequences and rewards can be dire or fulfilling. Suspense is a word best suited for February 26th.

With many questions swirling around numerous players, I’ve put together a list of teams that I think will be buyers and sellers.


Detroit Red Wings – 46.6M cap total: The cherry of the NHL, a team that instantly defines the word “powerhouse”. While they are solid in all positions of the game, there’s no such thing as enough firepower or defense. You can bet that the Wings will be in search of some assistance for the playoffs. With a recent 6-game slide (and counting), GM Ken Holland will surely flex his options a little more.

Anaheim Ducks – 51.4M cap total: While the Ducks have recently re-signed Teemu Selanne and Scott Neidermeyer, they are rumored to be looking for more goal scoring up front. The defending Cup champions are slowly forming to a similar core of last season, and are once again amongst one of the Cup favorites.

Dallas Stars – 48.5M cap total: With a strong defense under medical attention, the Stars could find themselves looking for some help on the blue line or even some more firepower upfront. As it stands, they have the best shot at catching the Wings for 1st in the Western Conference.

San Jose Sharks – 40.6M cap total: The Sharks are among the elite teams in the NHL, while their defense and goaltending is solid, some extra offense would lend a big impact. With lots of cap space at their disposal, the Sharks may end up making a blockbuster deal to make them serious Cup contenders.

N.Y. Rangers – 51.0M cap total: When the dust settled, the Rangers were expected to be among the best teams in the Eastern Conference after key UFA signings in the off-season. They now sit at 8th place in the East. Some improvements will be in full force come Feb.26th, and I expect them to be one of the liveliest teams personally.

Pittsburgh Penguins – 43.4M cap total: With the injury of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin has erupted into the team leader, making the Pens a team to fear. Adding some offense and defense would help the clubs chances of taking the next step to the Stanley Cup. Of course, a returning Crosby will help their case as well.

New Jersey Devils – 47.1 M cap total: While the Devils host a competitive club, they still lack serious firepower (156 GF – 3rd worst in the conference). Lou Lamoriello will have to work his magic if he wants his team to go deep into the playoffs.

Ottawa Senators – 47.2M cap total: With the recent acquisitions of Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore, the Sens have gotten their secondary scoring they lacked and have bulked up defensively in the process. However, they still lack solid and consistent goaltending. If Ottawa can snag a veteran goaltender for the playoffs, they will be a major force to be reckoned with.

Montreal Canadiens – 48M cap total: An underdog team that was written off the top16 before the season even started. They stand tied for 1st in the Eastern Conference for points (tied with the Sens) and have seen some serious offense upfront, but only from one line consistently. Bob Gainey will be looking for more balanced scoring; a big, powerful forward would be ideal if you ask me. But with Gainey, you never know, the Habs may very well stay put.


Toronto Maple Leafs – 49.3M cap total: Hard to not put them first on the list, they are amongst the basement dwellers of the NHL. Much of their fire sale depends on the Big Swede and if he is willing to waive his no-trade clause. If he does, expect a much younger and promising core ending the 07/08 NHL season.

N.Y. Islanders – 43.4M cap total: While the beginning of the season started well, they have been descending a downward spiral into the abyss since then. It would be in the Isles best interest to unload some veteran talent and start over next season.

Florida Panthers – 46.1M cap total: The Panthers are rumored to be dealing Olli Jokinen – a trade that would undoubtedly debut a rebuilding phase for Florida.

Los Angeles Kings – 46.6M cap total: The Kings have been in the NHL basement all season long, with a defense core full of pending free agents; they will sell for picks and prospects and aim for youngster Steven Stamkos in the draft.

Edmonton Oilers – 49.6M cap total: After losing Shawn Horcoff to an injury, the Oilers have little to no hope of attaining the playoffs; it would be in their best interest to unload their veterans and attain some young talent on a season lost.

Tampa Bay Lightning – 43.8M cap total: The Lightning host one of the best trio’s in the NHL in Brad Richards, Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St.Louis. However, their lack of defense and inconsistency between the pipes has landed them in the basement. Unloading one, or even two, of the big three would be a great start at rebuilding for the future. GM Jay Feaster will have some NTC’s to work around though.

NBA Slam Dunk Competition vs NHL shootout skills

After watching the NHL shootout competition at the NHL all-star game and the NBA slam dunk competition that the NHL are HUGE WANNABES. Ill show you the difference although creativity was big in the NHL watch the NBA game!

"The Wannabes"


The NHL was ok there were some lots of missed opportunities and I feel they have to revamp it.

The NBA had lots of fun and excitement for the fans with props being the cherry on top.

MY CLEAR CUT WINNER:The NBA and Dwight Howard

Ovie's Best Friend

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New Chatroom

I decided after this morning's chat to go find another chat page. Introducing the new and improved EVERYTHING HOCKEY CHAT PAGE!!! Heres the link:


Hey hockey lovers and site viewers today marked our first ever Chat room talk. I was disappointed by the amount of people who showed with like 10 people thats it. I will be trying to do this every Saturday morning and maybe the afternoons sometimes. I will post here for when there will be a Chat room talk. I would also like the fans to vote on what we should call the Chat. Anyway our first day was okay with some good people coming in to chat.I would like to thank Pengal and FlyersX for there positive remarks. I may have one tonight after all the games or during the games being played. I'll let you know as soon as I know what I'm gonna be doing.

Until then its,
Ovie's Best Friend signing out.

Cutting Your Losses : Marian Hossa and Brian Campbell

So Marian Hossa has decided to openly announce that his chances of re-signing with the Atlanta Thrashers are "slim". I'm here to tell you that I've had enough. If I'm a general manager and my player openly says something like this, c'est au revoir mon ami!

GM's and fans alike don't need this kind of attention around their team. The Thrashers are in the heat of battle for 8th place in the Eastern Conference. And now their best player tells them he is likely to move on. What kind of reaction does this attract from the locker room? He's abandoning his team and what's worse; he's comfortable in announcing it to the media. So what does Don Waddell do?

Well, you start by trading Hossa immediately. The Thrashers have to look for help elsewhere, and trading Hossa as soon as possible will only strengthen their playoff hopes. Get rid of the attention, get their motive back on track, and most importantly, get rid of the player. If Waddell waits until the Trade Deadline, other teams will know that he is even keener on moving him and the Thrashers will more than likely get fleeced.

In the Thrashers case, I am not suggesting unloading him for picks and prospects, because quite frankly, theyĆ¢€™re not the Leafs. I am suggesting swapping him with others players that will help the club attain the playoffs. Considering HossaĆ¢€™s contract, why not aim big for players like Martin St-Louis, Brad Richards, Mats Sundin and Olli Jokinen, just to name a few.

On the other hand, the Thrashers can attain a multitude of players by swapping Hossa for a package deal. This kind of thing can smooth out more holes on an inconsistent Thrashers club and place more responsibility on the young and super talented Ilya Kovalchuk.

With that said, the Thrashers -- if they believe it is best for their club -- can call the season quits, trade Hossa and attain a hefty package of draft picks and prospects. This would all but obliterate their playoff hopes but assure them an even brighter future.

However, I don't believe that would be fair to the fans that held their Thrashers allegiance with pride even after the club missed the playoffs for 10-straight years. They deserve better. The city hosts a club that can be competitive and with a little tweaking and quick decision making, they could turn this ship around.

Waddell, the ball is in your court.

A similar situation resides in Buffalo Sabres defenseman, Brian Campbell. The young and offensively gifted Campbell is uncertain of his future with the Sabres, his contract negotiations have erupted from one extreme to the next. And now reports are suggesting he is done negotiating until the end of the season.

Darcy Regier has a huge decision on his hands. If you wait until this season passes by -- which could very well foresee the Sabres out of playoff contention -- Campbell could end up walking for nothing. Like Daniel Briere and Chris Drury before him, he would be another star departed from the passionate city of Buffalo.

If I am Regier, I give Campbell one more contract offer, if he declines, then I trade him at the deadline for some much needed assets. Campbell is a vital piece to the Sabres defense, but the asking price would be quite surprising. But if the Sabres do not want to risk missing the playoffs, then swap him. Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Dan Boyle comes to mind. Aim high, because you never know.

Sure, it's risky business considering all that has happened to the Sabres this past year. But it is a painful decision which needs to be done. It is now time to put their foot down and establish a foundation for players to come.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Dreaded NHL ''No-Trade Clause''

In the "Salary Cap" world of today's NHL, all teams must configure their rosters to fit within the Cap currently set at $52M USD. And this system encourages a bargaining chip - the no trade clause.

While general managers employ this for different reasons, it ends up having the same effect. Some will use it to pursue players in the free agent frenzy to assure them of stability with their club, and with the same reasoning it is also used for RFA's.

But I ask you this: Is this something important for the NHL?
Personally I wouldn't mind seeing it removed from the league entirely, but some restructuring would also be appreciated.

Look at JFJ, for example. It can be argued that he lost his job because he abused the NTC's to assure the players stability. Ferguson put himself into a corner by giving a no-trade clause to Bryan McCabe, Tomas Kaberle, Darcy Tucker and Mats Sundin. And I ask you this: If JFJ had not given those players a no-trade clause, would he have his job today? It is something to ponder.

With the freedom to trade these players at will, JFJ could have easily moved some of them right when things went awry. In fact, JFJ told TSN last night that he had growing interest for McCabe, Kaberle, Sundin and Tucker from GM's around the league, funny how that works out.

Another example is the Tampa Bay Lightning. GM Jay Feaster has included no-trade clauses in the contracts of Brad Richards and Martin St-Louis. The Lightning are near the bottom of the NHL this season with three of the best forwards in the league, yet Feaster can do little to nothing to cure his club'€™s woes because St-Louis and Richards need to give permission to be dealt.

But here's another question: Should NHL players have this kind of power? Sure, some will argue every player should have the right to stability, but I disagree with this. When you're playing professional sports, you have to be prepared with the possibility of changing cities. The whole basis off their career is to play hard and impress to stay with their team.

With the NTC, player movement is also on the decline. Don't get me wrong, as always there will be a load of trades at the deadline, but this all goes back to the Ferguson scenario. If teams like Toronto were able to unload their players at the deadline without wondering about the possibility of those players waiving their NTC's, we'd see a considerable difference of liveliness come Feb.26th.

So here are some suggestions to mitigate the effects of this flaw (IMO):

- - Teams should be limited in the number of players to which they can grant no-trade clauses. This would force teams into only giving NTC's to their star players, thus making it much more interesting come Feb.26th.

- - Assign a cap value to a NTC - charging the no-trade clause against the cap would ultimately cost the teams more money, making them think twice before unloading them on half the team. (Thanks Scoop)

If you don't like that, there's always my suggestion - eliminate it. Doing this ensures a no-safety zone for all players and, come Feb.26th, a frenzy of trades would occur. Do the players really need that stability? This is something they surely considered when they chose this career path, so the lack of it won't come as a huge surprise to them.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Richard Zednik Cut by Skate

It was a pretty scary incident last night in Buffalo. The city was once again subject to an on-ice near-death situation due to a skate blade cutting a player's neck. First it was Clint Malarchuk in 1989, and yesterday it was Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik. For the squeamish, don't watch this video because there is plenty of blood.

According to reports, Zednik lost 5 of his 8 units of blood on the ice. There was so much blood on the ice, that Buffalo was forced to bring out the Zamboni to clean it up. There was question about whether the game would go on, but after about a 15-20 minute delay, the game continued.

Interestingly enough, the same doctor in Buffalo who helped Zednik to the hospital was the same doctor who attended to Kevin Everett, the Buffalo Bills Lineman who was thought to be paralyzed for life after being hit in a game last year.

The doctors who treated him also said that Zednik's carotid artery was cut 3/4 of the way, literally hanging on by a thread. It was as if someone took a knife to his throat. Luckily Zed is just fine, and should be able to resume his life in about 6-8 weeks. Hopefully we'll see him back in action on the ice sooner rather than later.

Here is a picture going around the internet that really shows the seriousness of the cut. Again, if you are squeamish, do not look.

Monday, February 4, 2008

This Old House with Bob Goalie

It's been far too long since I last posted something however, as the old saying goes, quality, not quantity. In case you couldn't tell by the title, this is another one of those "The Leafs must sell everybody and rebuild" blogs so reader beware and suggestions are welcome.

Most people save the best for last, but not me. Just like an old house being torn down, it starts with the foundation. The first and foremost issue at hand here is Sundin. He just has to go. It sounds very backward and it reads very strange, but Sundin is the most valuable player available this year at the deadline and we should take full advantage of it. In my mind, there is no other player that is as talented as Sundin and is available at the deadline. Even in years past, who can put up a solid case to be better than Sundin at the deadline? Forsberg last year? He was not 100%. Guerin? Tkachuk? No. The only guy that is comparable is Ray Bourque and we all know how that story ended. The fact of the matter is, the events of last year are different from this year. Last year, there were several pretenders who thought they were contenders such as the Islanders and the Thrashers and other teams that just flat out got the wrong players like San Jose. This season, we're talking about Sundin who's on a different level than these guys were last year and we're talking about contending teams like Anaheim and Detroit. Big difference.

Rumors circulating have reported that Anaheim, despite signing Selanne, are still in the hunt for Mats Sundin. Other teams included in these rumors are Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose and sometimes Detroit. Obviously, trading with some teams will be much better than trading with others, like for example, trading with Vancouver would not be as favorable to this team as it would be to trade with Anaheim. Vancouver has defensive prospects, which we have plenty of already, and Anaheim has some offensive weapons we could add that we need. Now, the price of Sundin has been thrown around a lot and honestly, I think it should be more than Forsberg cost last year. Forsberg was a potentially great player but he wasn't 100% and Nashville paid accordingly. This year, we have Sundin who is 100%, as motivated as ever, and as talented as ever. Teams will have to pay to play, and significantly might I add.

I'll start with the best trading partner, Anaheim. I expect Bobby Ryan and EDM 1st round pick. The Ducks have all the defense and goaltending in the world, but they do not have the same Selanne/McDonald connection they had last year. Selanne will take awhile to warm up to the player they NEED him to be and McDonald is just gone. Getzlaf on the top like works, but on the 2nd line, nothing would be more dangerous than having Sundin. If the Ducks have any problem with cap space, I will gladly take any contract we have to. Waivers is not a hard thing for us to use. Burke is a smart GM but so is Fletcher and I think this is in the realm of possibility. Right now, the Ducks are poised for the Cup and will be for a few years so the draft and prospects aren't the most important thing to them considering they have a legitimate chance to win back to back Cups.

The next best trading partner, and also most unlikely, is the Detroit Red Wings. From the Red Wings, I expect to see one of two packages coming our way. The first being, Filppula, Andersson, Emmerton or Grigorenko and a 3rd round pick. Joakim Andersson, Cory Emmerton and Igor Grigorenko are all 2nd/3rd line prospects. Filppula is a great young player that the Red Wings might have to consider giving up instead of a 1st rounder or other more notable prospects like Kindl or Ryno. The other deal consists of, Grigorenko, Andersson, Emmerton, 1st, 2nd in 08 and 3rd in 09.

For the Sharks, I think a fair price would be, Pavelski, Setoguchi, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09. The tricky thing about the Sharks however, is they are also interested in Antropov, Kubina, and even Raycroft. There is also the outside chance of Blake being in their plans, although, long term, I doubt the Sharks would be interested in him. In a deal consisting of Sundin and Antropov, I would add Bernier to the previous deal. If Kubina is added, I expect Ehrhoff in return. Raycroft, if they need him, can go for a 5th or 6th round pick.

Following the Sharks, are the Flames. The Flames have got a huge problem at center. They have two or three guys who are great 2nd liners, but nobody who can really play with Iginla. His latest goal slump is proof of that. Sundin in Calgary would be a natural fit, and personally, value aside, my favorite (probably because Calgary was my prediction for Cup winner this year). In return, I would expect Boyd, Backlund, Giordano (playing in Russia but still owned by the Flames), 1st and 2nd in 09. There are also rumors that the Flames are interested in Antropov or Tucker so for either of them you add Taratukhin to the deal. I think Taratukhin is an Antropov-like player that the Flames could afford to let go for a run in the playoffs and instantly replace him with a more developed Antropov. Tucker has a NTC, but going home, to a competitive situation would do him and his game wonders. Many think Tucker is playing hurt, while I think that is true, I think there is something else killing Tucker and that's the lack of true competitiveness. I think he feeds off of it, and in Calgary, he will get it, plenty of it.

Then finally, comes the Canucks. Of all the teams rumored to be interested in Sundin, the Canucks are the team I am the least interested in. They have nothing the Leafs could possibly need other than improved versions of what the Leafs already have, however, if the Canucks are interested, it is worth going over what we could get in return. I would expect Bourdon, Hansen, Raymond, 1st in 08, and a 3rd in 09 or, alternatively, Kesler, Raymond, Hansen, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09.

Once Sundin is dealt, I would love to re-sign him, however I see some destructive decisions if he does return. For one thing, if Sundin returns, you can rule out any remote possibility of the Leafs even thinking about getting Tavares because the idea when Sundin is on the team, is making the playoffs. I believe the Leafs need two if not three years away from the playoffs to rebuild and restock this team properly. Point to the Flyers of this year, but what people forget is the Leafs don't have a Richards, or Carter, or Gagne to build off of. The Leafs need a few really high 1st round picks before they even think about the playoffs again. The only scenario where I re-sign Sundin, is if he returns and does it Steve Yzerman style where he accepts to play a lesser role on the team and the team itself admits to playing prospects and not signing or trading for established players and/or veterans to make a playoff push.

As you can see, the biggest step is trading Sundin, but, similar to a house, that's just the same as knocking the biggest pieces of the old house down because the big stuff is gone, but there is still some walls left standings, some walls, we need to tear down and replace.

I've already mentioned Antropov a couple of times, and a few others once in the San Jose deal, but one player I have yet to mention is Vesa Toskala. Toskala is a 30 year old goaltender, who is smaller than the average goaltender in the NHL, however, he is beginning to show that he belongs in the top 15 if not 10 in this league in goaltending. On a team that plays a sound game but needs goaltending, Toskala is perfect. In Toronto, a rebuilding phase would see the development of Pogge and the rise of Toskala clash. I would be in favor of holding on to Toskala for one more year, however, if it is possible to get good value for him now, we can't say no and I think I have found a pretty good compromise. That compromise would see the Leafs deal Toskala and Antropov to Nashville, if Antropov isn't already dealt with Sundin, for Mason, FLA 1st, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09. Mason makes 3 million a year, only 1 less than Toskala, so for Nashville, who is trying to make the playoffs and need to make them for fan support and revenue, it makes perfect sense. They also get a two-way winger or center who can score too. The Predators have no problem scoring but they do need a more defensive aware player and Antropov is that guy, at a bargain of 2 million for this and next year.

I would personally deal Sundin, Antropov, Kubina, Tucker, Toskala, and just about any player 30 and over that another team wants, except Kaberle. In return, if we deal with Anaheim, Calgary, San Jose and Nashville with Sundin going to Anaheim, Tucker going to Calgary, Kubina and Raycroft going to San Jose and Toskala and Antropov going to Nashville, a good situation would see us acquire, Bobby Ryan, EDM 1st, Ehrhoff, SJS 5th, Mason, FLA 1st, NSH 2nd, and NSH 3rd in 09 in return. Not a bad way to start rebuilding in my opinion and not that out of this world either, all it takes is an effort to sell the veteran players we have, and move forward with a younger core. Next year, I would hope to see a lineup that included, Kulemin, Tlusty, Vorobiev, Earl, Pogge, and any other player on our list of prospects that can play in the NHL next year to develop their NHL game and to add to the future positively.

In conclusion, I'd like to apologize for the length of this blog, but it was just something I felt I wanted to put all together, in one blog. I know some of my ideas are things that will not happen simply due to the fact the Leafs want to win quickly and doing things slowly and steady in this organization just do not happen, but I ask for critical responses, and just to take everything with a grain of salt as I've tried to keep things as level as possible for all parties involved. Hopefully, this old house is torn down, and we can start to build something more modern as we move forward and continue our quest for the Cup.

Friday, February 1, 2008

North Dakota Magic in Minneapolis

The North Dakota Fighting Sioux, ranked #3 in the Division I Men's Poll, tops the hated #18 ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in overtime 2-1 with this beautiful goal by freshman Evan Trupp. Words cannot describe this goal.