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  1. The Instigator |Episode 27 Who is the Right Captain? How important is a good captain to the growth of a hockey franchise? What type of player makes the best captain? All questions that are critical to a teams success. Do all NHL teams have the correct person as captain or has the pressures to select the young goal scorers outweighed the importance of leadership. Brad Burud from Inside Edge Hockey News gives his opinion on young captains. PODCAST
  2. INSIDE EDGE HOCKEY NEWS – RADIO SHOW | EPISODE 17 Tavares NOT Welcomed Home and the Push to the Playoffs Long-time New York Islanders John Tavares made his much anticipated return to Long Island and it was a very interesting return to say the least. Brad Burud discusses the video tribute, boos, chants and the displeasure. Then it is time to talk Stanley Cup Playoffs and what teams are making a push and what teams have stepped out of the race. What if the playoffs started today? Who are the first round winners? Its all on this episode of the Inside Edge Hockey News Radio Show. PODCAST
  3. THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast | Episode 43 Nylander Saga Finally Ends and Wilson Antics The William Nylander saga is now over in Toronto. What does this mean for the Leafs. What does it mean for their salary cap future, and what does it mean for pending RFA players. Brad Burud and Blake Friars are breaking it all down, and they are full of opinions. Then Tom Wilson is back to his dirty antics. Has he learned anything from his recent suspension? It was a busy week in the NHL. The Islanders are back home, the intensity level boils over in numerous games this week. An almost goalie fight and a goalie outburst. It is all up for debate on this episode. PODCAST
  4. THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast | Episode 40 Nylander Sign or Trade and the Inconsistent Oilers Are you sick and tired of thinking and speculating what will happen with William Nylander. Brad Burud and Blake Friars are too. For the last time they break down possible trade scenarios for Nylander, and discuss the possibility that he still may sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Would the real Edmonton Oilers please stand up….are you good or are you terrible again? Joel Quenneville is out in Chicago. This is crazy. Questionable hits, player suspensions, and the Hall of Fame welcomes six new members. It was a crazy week in the NHL and did we mention the UBER fiasco in Ottawa. PODCAST
  5. THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast | Episode 36 Matthews$, Offer Sheets, Pettersson Slam and Teams in Trouble Brad Burud and Blake Friars are fired up to talk Austin Matthews money. Is his future in Toronto? How much will he get paid? Can the Leafs afford him? What is the chance of an offer sheet on him or William Nylander? Then they dive (or slam) into the Elias Pettersson injury and what should happen. Suspension or not? Well its not a secret that they disagree on this one… Actually they totally disagree. Then to wrap things up they discuss what teams have played themselves into trouble this early in the season. PODCAST
  6. THE DEBATE – Hockey Podcast | Episode 33 Suckerpunch, Unsigned RFA’s, and Preseason Standouts Brad Burud and Blake Friars prep for the start of the NHL season by discussing preseason standouts. Lots of great young talented showcased in the preseason, and some will be taking roster spots. Domi suckerpunched Ekblad – the reaction and the results of this stupid hockey play. With 10 days until the start of the season Toronto Maple Leafs forward and RFA is still unsigned. Will he be signed? We will give you our opinions. PODCAST
  7. Vancouver Young Talent Shines The preseason could not be going any better if you are a Canucks fan. Preseason is a showcase for young prospects, and in Vancouver the young prospects look amazing………Olli Juolevi is staking claim that he will be a solid NHL player, but then there is the man…Elias Pettersson! Wow is this guy impressive. He is doing everything… He is flashy, he is exciting, and more importantly he is making players around him look like superstars – right Sven Baertschi. Leafs Tire Pumping The Maple Leafs will be good, but back the wagons up Leafs fans. The season has not started. I know..I know… Tavares has two goal in his first game… I think there is a lot more ahead for this team. They will be good, but relax Leafs fans… You’re not cup contenders… and honestly, I hope you prove me wrong. Domi Disgrace The first preseason game that new Montreal Canadiens center was in turned out to be a disaster. Domi tried baiting Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad into a fight. Ekblad would not give Domi the satisfaction of the fight – in return Domi sucker punched him in the face. Not the showing the Habs fans expected or wanted. Well maybe it was not too bad. Below is a press release from the NHL: NHL PRESS RELEASE Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason for roughing Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad during NHL Preseason Game No. 29 in Montreal on Wednesday, Sept. 19, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today. The incident occurred at 0:56 of the third period. Domi was assessed a match penalty as well as a minor penalty for roughing. For a full explanation of the decision, complete with video, please click on the following link: https://www.nhl.com/video/t-277440360/c-61189703. The suspension shocked me and frustrates me. I ask the NHL, is it really a penalty to punish a guy with preseason games. No regular season games, none. So Domi gets to practice and relax and prepare for the regular season without having to worry about in significant pre-season games. Look out NHL, you quickly set the suspension bar for the season, and it is low.
  8. Please check out the full article at Below the Goal Line. Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out BTGL's complete preview of the NCAA Men's Hockey Tournament exclusively here. NHL Game Updates: Pittsburgh Penguins @ New York Islanders, Matt Murray returned for the Penguins, but Pittsburgh struggles to score as te Islanders win 4-1. Columbus Blue Jackets @ New York Rangers, That's nine straight wins for the Jackets, who climbed into the third spot in the Metropolatin Division from out a playoff spot a few weeks ago. They win 5-3 thanks to an Artemi Panarin hat trick. Dallas Stars @ Washington Capitals, Dallas has fallen hard after sitting in a Central Division playoff spot a few weeks ago. The Stars are now on the outside looking in thanks to a 4-3 loss to the Capitals. Edmonton Oilers @ Carolina Hurricanes, The Oilers light up the 'Canes for seven goals, win 7-3. Florida Panthers @ Ottawa Senators, The Panthers also score seven, and creep even closer to a Wild Card spot with a 7-2 win. Seven different Panthers score in this one. Philadelphia Flyers @ Detroit Red Wings, The Flyers pick up a big point in the shooutout against the Red Wings. The could have used two, but they fall 5-4 n Detroit. Los Angeles Kings @ Winnipeg Jets, Kyle Connor scores twice, including the game winner in overtime. The Jets win 2-1 in a rugged, hard-hitting battle between two playoff teams. Colorado Avalanche @ Chicago Blackhawks, The Blackhawks are officially eliminated from the postseason, the first time since 2007-08, and just the second time in the careers of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. Avalanche win 5-1. Vancouver Canucks @ Vegas Golden Knights, Good news: Vegas wins again, this time 4-1, pushing their points total to 99 in their first season. Bad news: Marc-Andre Fleury was hurt again. New Jersey Devils @ San Jose Sharks, The story here is the depth scoring. The Sharks get goals from Eric Fehr (3rd of the season), Jannik Hansen (1st), and Barclay Goodrow (7th) to win 6-2. Toronto Maple Leafs v Tampa Bay Lightning: The Tampa Bay Lightning host the Toronto Maple Leafs in a potential first-round playoff preview. Tampa Bay is the only Eastern Conference team to qualify for the playoffs so far this season, and Toronto is firmly locked into the third place in the Atlantic Division. The Maples Leafs race out to 3-0 lead in this one. James van Reimsdyk gets the only goal in the first period. JVR wrists a puck past goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy after receiving a pass from Mitch Marner in the slot. van Reimsdyk picks up another tally in the second when he flips a rebound in past the Lightning goalie. The Toronto forward is all alone in front of Vasilevskiy, and picks up his 33rd of the season on the backhand shot. Toronto would make it 3-0 at 15:41 of the second period when Zach Hyman finds a loose puck and wrists a puck to the top, left corner of the net for his 14th of the year. The Lightning would answer in the second period when Victor Hedman gets the Bolts on the board. Hedman cuts into the left faceoff circle and fires one past Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who is screened in the Toronto goal. It was all Tampa Bay in the third period. Goals by Ryan McDonagh, his second as a member of the Lightning, Nikita Kucherov, and Alex Killorn give the Lightning their first lead of the game at 4-3. Toronto would not answer, and Tampa Bay would finish the game victorious with a 4-3 win. Both of these teams impressed me at stretches in this game, both showing off their speed in this one. This felt like a playoff matchup, with some hard-hitting and good defensive play on both sides. The Lightning seemed a little sloppy early, which is indicative of their play lately. They seemed to have lost their drive to play consistently well after getting out to such a good start to the season. The Lightning also were undisciplined, taking four penalties, which lead to a Maple Leaf powerplay that went 1/3. Come back tomorrow when we recap the Boston Bruins taking on the St. Louis Blues in an important tilt in the playoff races in both conferences. Thanks for joining us. Please subscribe for email updates of future posts on the right side of the page (or after the entire article on your mobile devices). Don't forget to check us out on Twitter and Facebook!
  9. Leafs Have Trade Options Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello has let teams know that he will be a seller leading up to the trade deadline. P.A. Parenteau and Roman Polak will possibly land them something close to a 2nd round pick which is what the Maple Leafs are striving for right now. Shawn Matthias, Michael Grabner and Nick Spaling won’t merit much of a return individually, but packaged in the right deal they may warrant a higher draft pick or a decent prospect. I think it is pretty clear the mentality of the Maple Leafs is just to build for the draft, and trust your scouts. With an already solid prospect pool, and a few more key draft selections the team may one day finally become a powerhouse again. There was some speculation that Leo Komarov may be on the move, but it seems Babcock has taken a liking to him and really loves how he plays. James Reimer is a wild card right now, he currently holds the second best save% in the league, and is battling for the number 1 spot. If he was moved, you may be able to negotiate for a good return. NHL: Trade Talk – News and Notes Tampa Bay is trying very hard to move Drouin. They are very actively shopping him around however the price tag at this point, with all the drama is very unclear. It is thought that he may have a few offers on the table though, Steve Yzerman is holding off, hoping for a better deal after the dust settles from Drouin removing himself from the line-up. Yzerman holds that cards and will not deal Drouin without proper compensation. Everyday he is away Drouin is hurting himself. The Edmonton Oilers are being very active on the trade market right now for a right handed defenseman. The rumor is that the Oilers may have talked to Anaheim about Sami Vatanen who may fit nicely. I feel they need to be more physical. I believe they should go after Travis Hamonic or Dustin Byfuglien. The Oilers are said to be willing to give up Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Teddy Purcell and Justin Schultz. Either of those players in a package could bring a very nice return. Another potential trade target for teams needing a goalie could be Fredrick Anderson of the Anaheim Ducks. He’s having a less productive season than last, but if the right offer came about they may consider moving him. INSIDE EDGE HOCKEY NEWS * Photo Credit - USAToday Sports Images
  10. Leafs Bernier or Reimer- Who will be Traded? The Toronto Maple Leafs are shopping goaltender Jonathan Bernier, according to The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle. Bernier has defiantly had his struggles this season, but many thought his goaltending counterpart just maybe the one on his way out of Toronto. 27-year-old James Reimer is a pending UFA and there has been talk of him on the way out of town. His play has been very good this year. He has a very impressive .932 save percentage and a 2.10 goals against average in 24 games. He has been plagued with injuries this season, but has really played well when healthy. The question is will Reimer want to resign in Toronto? It is not a secret that he has been disrespected and treated like garbage by management during his stay in Toronto. It looks as though Toronto will be in a difficult spot they want to sign Reimer and trade Bernier, but it is really hard to pull the trigger on Bernier if you are going to loose Reimer to free agency in the summer. Leaving you with no goalie. Looks like any trades just may be on hold until they resign or know they will not resign Reimer. The likely destination for either of these goaltenders is Calgary. The Flames have had horrific goaltending this season, and neither are likely to be resigned this off-season. The Leafs and Flames have some history, the most obvious is the connection with Brain Burke. NHL Trade Talk: News and Notes By Staff Writer – Logan Heath George Richards reports that the Florida Panthers have zero interest in Andrew Ladd. Could they be going after a bigger target, time will tell? This completely disputes yesterdays report that Ladd may just be a target of the Florida Panthers. Jimmy Murphy reports that numerous teams are on the Bruins scouting list for the game against Anaheim Ducks game last night: Islanders, Sabres, Flames, Hurricanes, Blackhawks, Kings, Wild, Canadiens (2), Predators, Devils, Rangers, Capitals and Jets. Jimmy Murphy also reports that the scouts have told him to expect Loui Eriksson to be traded. The Bruins may be scouting Sami Vatanen. Could Sami Vatanen be a fit in Boston? Personally I feel over the past few seasons the Bruins have really gotten away from what made the team a Stanley Cup contender. They have lost that grit that they use to play with. This really defined what Bruins hockey was. Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet has reported that teams have called for Alex Galchenyuk, but the Canadians have no interest in moving him. INSIDE EDGE HOCKEY NEWS * Photo Credit - USAToday Sports Images
  11. The annual NHL All-Star Game is a favorite event for many fans. The festivities span an entire weekend and include the Skills Competition, and in years past, a young stars game. The format has changed over the years – it began as a matchup between the reigning Stanley Cup champions and all-stars from the other teams, turned into a matchup between conferences, went through a stage when it was North America against the world, and now has the flavor of a pickup game where team captains choose their players – but it has remained immensely popular over the decades. The All-Star game became an officially sanctioned annual NHL event in 1947, but that was not the first time NHL players took part in an All-Star game. To find the first such event, we must jump into our time machines and travel back to 1934. Before we do that, however, let us see why the game was played. The date is December 12, 1933. The Toronto Maple Leafs are riding high in the world of ice hockey. They are on their way to posting the best regular season record in the league. Last season, they advanced to the Stanley Cup finals, and the season before that, they won the Stanley Cup. The man that scored the Cup clinching goal for the Leafs was Irvine “Ace” Bailey. At the beginning of the game between the Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins, no one could have known what fate held for Ace Bailey. During the game that night, Boston’s Eddie Shore was violently checked by Toronto’s King Clancy as he skated into the Toronto zone, pushing Shore into a rage. Intent on getting revenge, Shore spun around to see what he believed to be Clancy, charged at him from behind and tripped him. Shore had not found his intended target, however. Rather, it was Ace Bailey whose head slammed into the ice, fracturing his skull. Bailey was knocked unconscious and began bleeding from his head. In retaliation, Bailey’s teammate Red Horner knocked Shore out with a punch to the head. When he regained consciousness and learned of Bailey’s condition, Shore went to the locker room where Bailey was to apologize. By now, Ace had also come to, and despite believing that he was going to die, upon receiving Shore’s apology gave a remarkable display of grace and forgiveness in his response: “It’s all part of the game.” Bailey then lost consciousness once again. By the next morning, that Bailey would die seemed all but certain because of cerebral hemorrhaging. Shore, meanwhile, was interviewed by homicide detectives who announced that should Bailey die, Shore would be charged with manslaughter. Shore was indefinitely suspended by league president Frank Calder (he ended up missing 16 games). Shore was devastated by the guilt – enough so that he took a three week convalescence to Bermuda – and was not allowed to visit Bailey in the hospital. Boston manager Art Ross was able to do so, however, and when he did, Bailey once again said that Shore had not intentionally injured him. Miraculously, Bailey survived, and eventually recovered to live a normal life, but his hockey career was over. On January 24, 1934, the NHL Board of Directors decided to schedule a game between Bailey’s Maple Leafs and a team of All-Stars from the other teams in the league to raise money to benefit Ace and his family. The game was scheduled for Valentine’s Day, and would be played in Toronto’s Maple Leafs Gardens. Two players were selected from each of the other teams in the league, and Lester Patrick, the coach of the defending Stanley Cup champion Rangers was selected as the coach. During the festivities, the Maple Leafs retired Bailey’s number six jersey, making it the first jersey to be retired by an NHL team. Bailey presented a trophy to Calder which he hoped would be awarded at an annual All-Star game held to benefit the families of injured players. But, the most dramatic moment of the night took place while Bailey, Patrick, and Calder presented jerseys to the All-Stars. Black Hawks goalie Charlie Gardiner (who died, sadly, only four months later) was first, and after him came Eddie Shore. The crowd of over 14,000 fans became totally silent as Shore skated toward Bailey. The mood of the building changed entirely when Bailey extended his hand to Shore. As the two men shook hands, the crowd roared its approval. During the game, Shore, who was extremely nervous about how he would be received was cheered by the crowd. At the end of the game, the scoreboard showed a 7-3 win for the Maple Leafs. The event raised $20,909, and the Bruins organization added another $6,000. Bailey’s desire for an annual benefit game did not come to fruition, but similar events were held in 1937 and 1939 to benefit the families of Howie Morenz and Babe Siebert. Even if the tradition was not immediately established, that night with the stars set a precedent, and achieved a lot of good for the Bailey family. The first NHL All-Star Game is an excellent demonstration of the sportsmanship that those of us who call ourselves hockey fans so greatly value in the athletes that we cheer for.
  12. SOURCE: http://www.BostonPucks.com The life of an NHL player is something every kid growing up playing hockey dreams about experiencing. Whether it's a just a couple games or a Hall of Fame career the thought of suiting up for an NHL franchise is pretty intoxicating. Which got me thinking, if you could pick one city to have a career in as an NHL player what would be the best and worst city? It's not necessarily your favorite team or least favorite team, it's just the city itself, its culture, and lifestyle, etc. My choices were pretty easy to make. My choice of the best city to be an NHLer is Tampa Bay. The weather is fantastic during hockey season, sold out games are the norm for a fan base that is far more into hockey than they get credit for, and the Tampa area is really nice. You can be an NHL player on a team with a winning culture (2004 Stanley Cup Champions and 2015 Finals appearance) in a great climate and still go to the grocery store most likely unnoticed or approached. Maybe it's my experience of having gone to college at the University of Arizona where driving up to games in Phoenix was the best. Sitting outside the arena in flip-flops and shorts with cocktails and all the "scenery" yet still having the excitement of NHL hockey indoors. Tampa is the best of both worlds; success with comfort. My runner-up would be Anaheim for the same reasons. The worst city for me is Toronto. Now, it is a beautiful city that I loved visiting. It's one of the best big North American cities I've been to. But as an NHL player the media scrutiny is brutal even for the most minor of issues, long cold winters exist, and the fans are often Banana Land crazy to a fault at times. I know they are desperate for a Stanley Cup in Toronto, you'd have to go all the way back to 1967 to find their last one, so winning one there would make you a God but it's just been a dysfunctional organization for quite some time. This summer they brought in Mike Babcock and Lou Lamiorello to help and they will change that. But if I had to pick today Toronto is not a place I'd want to deal with as an NHLer. My runner-up for worst city to play in would be Newark, New Jersey for the Devils. What are your picks? We'd love to hear you in the comment section!
  13. Tomas Plekanec scored his second goal of the game with just 40 seconds left in regulation to lift the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 over the Toronto Maple Leafs in the season opener Wednesday. Plekanec was the recipient of a lucky bounce that saw his winning goal deflect off the skate of Leafs rookie defenceman Stuart Percy and past Jonathan Bernier. The goal was a heartbreaker to Leafs fans affter Morgan Reilly tied the game with 2:19 left in the third on a fluky goal that got through Carey Price. Plekanec led the way for the Canadiens with his first two goals of the season while Alex Emelin and P.A. Parenteau finished the night with two helpers a piece. The Maple Leafs found themselves in a hole early on in the game when Max Pacioretty cut through the Leafs blueliners and snuck a wrist shot under the catching arm of Bernier. The goal came on the Habs first shot of the game. The buds would battle back to tie it after Nazem Kadri deflected the Brandon Kozun wrist shot over the catching-glove of Carey Price. The assist was the first career NHL point for Kozun, who cracked the opening day lineup after having a stellar training camp. The goal came with a little controversy as Kozun appeared to be offside on the play. With 40 seconds left to go in the period the Maple Leafs capitalized on the power play on an impressive effort by Stuart Percy. Percy dumped the puck into the corner and was able to beat the Canadiens defenders to the puck before centering it to a wide-open Tyler Bozak who slipped the puck between the legs of Price to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead heading into the second. The assist was also Percy’s first NHL point. However, the Leafs would see their lead disappear in the second after Plekanec was able to split the Leafs ‘d’ for a breakaway and slide a backhand under the pads of Bernier. The game would remain tied until midway through the third. After the Leafs were caught running around in their own end, the puck came out to former Norris Trophy winner P.K. Subban, who fired a wrist-shot blocker-side on Bernier. Price made 24 saves on 27 shots for the win while Bernier turned away 28 of the 32 shots he faced in a losing effort. Despite some impressive debuts from their rookies the Maple Leafs seemed to fall into old habits for much of the game Wednesday. The Leafs struggled to get the puck out of their own end on many occasions and at times it seemed like a daunting task just to get the puck to centre ice. Both Randy Carlyle and newly acquired defenceman Stephan Robidas believe the buds got away from their game plan midway through the second period and it showed. Despite leading the team in ice time Wednesday playing 23:31, it seemed like the Leafs plan to relieve Dion Phaneuf of some of his defensive responsibilities was in effect. The Leafs brought in Robidas and Roman Polak in an attempt to stabilize the back end while also giving more responsibilities to youngsters Reilly and Jake Gardiner. Phaneuf finished the night with one assist and a -1 rating. The Leafs will be back in action Saturday night when they welcome Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Air Canada Centre. While the Canadiens now head to Washington to face Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals tonight. Photo Credit: Canadian Press/ Frank Gunn Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  14. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Cody Franson avoided what would have been another arbitration meeting between the two Monday. The meeting was avoided when just hours before it was scheduled to occur, both sides agreed to a one year $3.3 million dollar deal. Just days before the deal was made, a report surfaced that both sides were as much as $2.2 million dollars apart. Franson was reportedly looking for a deal in the area of $4.2 million dollars while the Maple Leafs were offering around $2 million. In the end both sides agreed to a number almost straight down the middle. Now although the deal is done, rumours still suggest that the Maple Leafs may be looking to trade the 26 year-old defenceman. Back on July 1st news broke that the Leafs were hoping to strike a deal with the Montreal Canadiens with the hopes of acquiring defenceman Josh Gorges. In the end the deal fell through after Gorges refused to accept a trade to Toronto. Going the other way for Gorges in the deal would have been Franson. So, obviously it is no secret that the Leafs have been looking to trade the defenceman, but if he stays is that so bad either? Last season Franson lead the Leafs blueline with 33 points and was second in the NHL in hits with 282. So, Franson does have the ability to play both sides of the puck. He also lead the Maple Leafs in points with 29 in the lockout shortened season in 2013. However, Franson also had the second worst plus minus on the Maple Leafs this season with a -20 this season. In the last two seasons combined, Franson ranks 19th amongst defencemen in points meaning he is definitely got that going for him. In fact had the Leafs been able to hold on to beat the Bruins in game seven back in 2013, Franson might be looked as somewhat of a Toronto hero. After coughing up the first goal in game seven, it was Franson who scored the next two goals for Toronto to give them a 2-1 lead, what could have been. The biggest problem that seems to surround Franson is his speed and his defensive game. The dman stands at 6’5 so of course speed is not his strong suit. When it comes to playing defensively, well the entire Toronto team suffered from a poor defensive system, so if a new system is implemented in Toronto this season these numbers could be corrected. In fact if you look back to the previous season, for a large part of it Franson was among the league leaders in plus minus and his defence partner at the time, Mark Fraser, finished sixth overall in that category. It seems as though once again the Maple Leafs will give Franson the chance to prove that he does deserve a raise or give him the chance to spark some interest among other teams so the Leafs can deal him. Either way, despite agreeing to his third one-year deal with the buds, it looks as though things will have to proceed as normal with Franson. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  15. NHL’s free agent frenzy kicked off Tuesday with a big bang. Though they didn’t make a number of monumental moves when the signing period began, the Toronto Maple Leafs did dabble in the action and also said farewell to other bodies. So with this the Toronto Maple Leafs are already looking to be a different group of players when they take to the ice next season. The Leafs transactions first began last Saturday when they sent defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to the St. Louis Blues for fellow tough-guy, defenseman Roman Polak. Gunnarsson had been with the Leafs for the last five seasons and had spent the majority of his time playing on the top pairing alongside Dion Phaneuf. After leading the team with a +12 this season, the Leafs shipped him out as they looked to bring in someone with more physicality in his game, something a lot of the Leafs’ defense core lacked. The Leafs then made another move via free agency Tuesday to try and bolster their defense core. The buds signed veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas to a three-year three million dollar deal. The 37 year-old is coming off a season where he broke his leg twice. Despite these injuries Robidas played great for Anaheim when he was healthy, putting up 10 points in just 38 games. Robidas claims right now to be at 95% and says that come the season’s start he will be 100% ready to go and injuries will not be an issue. In an interview with TSN’s James Duthie, after signing with the Maple Leafs Tuesday, Robidas mentioned that early talks with management suggest possibly playing alongside either Jake Gardiner or Morgan Reilly, but until the season finally starts we can only speculate. The other two additions to the Leafs roster that were made saw Dave Nonis bring back fellow Maple Leafs Matt Frattin and Finish pest Leo Komarov. The two acquisitions are interesting because both players played on the Maple Leaf team that made the playoffs two season ago, before losing in dramatic fashion to the Boston Bruins. Frattin had a fairly unimpressive campaign this last season recording just seven points in 44 games split between the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets. While Komarov put up a respectable 34 points in 52 games for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, while also representing Finland in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Leafs are hoping the two can help bring a bit more grit and speed, something the organization feels they had two years ago. Now besides the names that the Leafs brought in over the past week, what might be just as interesting or worth noting is the names that they saw go elsewhere. The biggest of these names is obviously that of the Mimico native, Dave Bolland. Though Bolland claimed to wanting to stay in Toronto, eventually he decided to take his services to Florida, signing a five year contract paying him $5.5 million per season. Though he played just 23 games for the Leafs last season, Bolland was a force for them especially before he suffered his Achilles injury that kept him out of the lineup for 56 games. Wednesday the Maple Leafs also saw defensive forwards Jay McClemment sign a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes while Nikolai Kulemin signed an extensive four-year $16.75 million contract with the New York Islanders. This will leave some holes on the Leafs penalty kill, though Komarov will likely see playing time there. Now some other interesting loses to the organization come at the hands of the Marlies and players that could very well have pushed for a roster spot with the Maple Leafs next season. Those names are AHL defenseman of the year T.J. Brennan and arguably the top goaltender in the AHL playoffs this past year, Drew McIntyre, who may now get chances elsewhere. Brennan has always proved himself to be a very offensive defenseman in the AHL and 2013-14 was no exception. The 25 year-old amassed 25 goals and 72 points in 76 games this season, most among all defenseman in the league. Brennan has only played 40 NHL games spread over three NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. In their search for a more stellar defense core its interesting the Maple Leafs would allow the best defenseman in the AHL to go for nothing. Brennan signed a one year deal with the Islanders on Tuesday. McIntyre lead the Marlies to the Western Conference finals this year, giving up just 29 goals in 14 games, putting up a 0.944 save percentage and a 2.08 goals against average. The 31 year-old McIntyre could have been a reliable backup to Jonathan Bernier and likely for a good price. Both good things for the Leafs as rumours have swirled that James Reimer has asked for a trade and with the news that the current restricted free agent has filed for salary arbitration. McIntyre was picked up by the Hurricanes on a one-year, two-way deal. In other news this weekend former Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman, now with the Sabres, Josh Gorges, was going to be shipped to Toronto, but Gorges refused to waive his no-trade clause to come to Toronto. The deal is believed to have been for Cody Franson, this likely means the Maple Leafs are looking to trade the large dman. Franson is currently an RFA and will have to either be signed or moved by the team. The Maple Leafs are most certainly not done this off season and more moves can be expected to be made, whether it’s to either further improve their back end or to try and look for a top-six centre. Either way, so far it looks like there will be some different faces dawning the blue and white next season and a few old ones. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  16. The Maple Leafs have won six of their last seven games and look to be firing on all cylinders. While the Maple Leafs have jumped back up into a respective fifth place in the Eastern conference their AHL counterparts find themselves atop their division. This is due in large part to the great play of TJ Brennan. One of the biggest reasons for the Marlies success has been the great play of defenceman T.J. Brennan. Brennan finds himself fifth in the league in scoring and number one amongst defencemen with 40 points in 39 games. So with 40 points in 39 games one must think a call up to the Leafs could be in order. Brennan was drafted by the Buffalo Sabres 31st overall in the second round in 2007. However, he spent most of his time with the Rochester Americans and played just 21 games with the Sabres between 2011-2013 recording just two goals. Halfway through last season he was moved to Florida where he played 19 games and put up two goals and nine points. Yet back in the American Hockey League Brennan racked up 35 points in 36 games with the Americans. Brennan may not have hit his stride at the NHL level yet, but he has proven that at the AHL level he has tremendous offensive upside. Brennan has only seen 40 games in the NHL and has recorded 11 points which if you consider him as a rookie, since he hasn’t seen a full season is not too bad. The problem that might stop Brennan from seeing time with the Leafs in the near future is the fact that they seem to have a plethora of young offensive defencemen. With the likes of Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner as well as Dion Phaneuf and Cody Franson he is likely not going to see time unless the Leafs suffer a few injuries down the line. Randy Carlyle and the Leafs have been looking to add physicality to their back end and for a team who doesn’t have too many players that fit that criteria, bringing in a defenceman whose biggest strength is offence, means the odds might be against Brennan. Just this month the Maple Leafs sent veteran defenceman John-Michael Liles to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for fellow defenceman Tim Gleason. This trade was made to help bring a more defensive presence to the Leafs’ back end. However, what might give Brennan a glimmer of hope is the fact that come next year Toronto will be faced with 10 free agents and with just $20 million dollars to sign them. Among these 10 free agents will be unrestricted free agents Paul Ranger and Mark Fraser and restricted free agents Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner. Gardiner is in the last year of his contract and currently makes $875,000 and will likely be looking for a pay increase, while Franson is making $2,000,000 and after a lengthy contract dispute last year will likely also be looking for a raise. Brennan on the other hand will also be a restricted free agent, but after only making $600,000 this season he may be a player that the Leafs could sign for a bargain and if he could bring his same offensive skill to the Leafs could be a great fit. Brennan will likely be named to the AHL All-Star Game to be held on the February 11th-12th weekend and so far looks to be a shoe in as the AHL’s top defenceman. He may not see time with the big club this season, but depending on the health of the Leafs’ blue line and how this off-season goes for Dave Nonis, Brennan may still have a bright future in the NHL. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  17. The Toronto Maple Leafs finished off their west coast road trip last Saturday with arguably their worst effort of the season, losing 4-0 to the Vancouver Canucks . However, despite this loss the Leafs looked great picking up solid wins against the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. These two wins can largely be credited to the outstanding play of both James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier and that is why there may be some cause for concern. In their three games each tender was forced to make over 40 saves. Against Edmonton Reimer recorded a 43 save shutout, in Calgary Bernier made 41 saves on 43 shots, and on Saturday Reimer made 43 saves on 47 shots. In these same three games the Leafs registered shot totals of 26, 22, and 21. Meaning during this road trip the Leafs were outshot 127-69. This is a problem that the Leafs have been plagued by all season. Through their first 15 games the Maple Leafs been outshot in 13 of those games. In fact the Leafs currently have allowed the second most shots against in the league, giving up an average of over 36 shots a game. Besides just being a lot of pressure on the goaltenders what this drastic shot differential means is so much more. What this plethora of shots against implies is that more of the game has been played in the Maple Leafs’ end of the rink instead of the opposition. This means that the Leafs are not providing themselves with opportunity to produce offense. This also means that there is extra pressure put on the defensemen, this suggests that the Leafs are being caught running around in their own end. This usually is what leads to penalties taken, leading to once again, more shots and more scoring opportunities for the opposition. Simply put, the Maple Leafs need to start controlling the play and relying less on their goaltenders. The Leafs have been very fortunate that they are able to make the most of their opportunities and that their goaltenders have risen to the occasion. However, Saturday was a perfect example that no matter how well your goaltenders play, they can’t produce offense. The Maple Leafs should take the 4-0 loss to Vancouver as a lesson learned and look to take some of the burden off of their goaltenders. On Saturday the Leafs were dealt another big blow as they lost centreman David Bolland to an injury after in a hit into the boards he suffered a cut tendon in his right foot. This injury comes after Tyler Bozak had missed the last three games and was placed on the long term injured reserve, likely not back until late November. Bolland had successful surgery to repair the cut, but will be out indefinitely and though his timetable for a return is not known for sure, it is expected to be a couple months. So, with this the Maple Leafs may now be in the market for a new centreman to fill the gap. TSN’s hockey insider Darren Dreger, believes the Leafs are looking around for a new centreman, but that availability may be slim. He also added that the Maple Leafs may use this injury to look for another top 6 forward believing that they have a lot of assets to offer in defensemen such as John-Michael Liles and young prospects. In the meantime the Leafs have temporarily put winger James van Riemsdyk back at centre between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul. Although van Reimsdyk has never played centre as a pro he played the position back in college and both him and head coach Randy Carlyle believe that the transition won’t be that hard. In fact fans may have noticed the trio paired together a few times on the powerplay Saturday in Vancouver. The Maple Leafs don’t play again until Friday when they take on the New Jersey Devils which should give the Maple Leafs a lot of time to either gel van Reimsdyk or find someone else to help fill in the gap. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman
  18. Saturday night Leaf fans saw the boys in blue and white pull off a very impressive comeback win in the battle of Ontario in their tilt against the Ottawa Senators. What the fans may also have seen is a glimpse as to how the team may look for a very large portion of the season. This may have been the game that saw Jonathan Bernier steal the net from James Reimer. On Saturday night Reimer got the start in net against the Senators having had quite a track record against their Ontario rivals where he had put up an impressive 8-1-1 record in his previous contests against the Sens. Unfortunately for Reimer, after giving up 4 goals on 21 shots (including the final two coming within a span of just 15 seconds of one another) Jonathan Bernier saw his first action at the Air Canada Centre. To say that this change in goal was the turning point in the game would be a complete understatement. The Maple Leafs were able to tie the game at 4 at the 2:52 mark of the third period and from there Bernier kicked out every puck that came his way. The Leafs would take the game in a shootout with goals by Leafs’ Raymond and Bozak, while Bernier turned away shots by Milan Michalek and Jason Spezza. The first two games of the season saw Reimer and Bernier split the decisions and after both tenders were named first star in their respected games it seemed as though the controversy about who might be the Leafs starting goalie this season was just getting started. However, after the events that took place on Saturday it seems as though Leafs nation might be singing a different tune. After Bernier made a miraculous glove save the crowd could be heard chanting “Bernier! Bernier! Bernier!” making it quite clear who their faith was now in. Many more of these type of saves followed during the game including a sprawling pad save on Sens Captain Jason Spezza with just over a minute left to play in the game. This save in particular was one that stopped what looked to be a sure goal and helped to send the game to overtime. To start the season it was made clear by management that starts would be shared amongst both goalies until one faulted or one seemed to rise above the other. Going by the schedule laid out it was already expected that Bernier would be starting Tuesday night when the Colorado Avalanche come to town. After the performance that Bernier put up on Saturday stopping all 15 shots he faced, it seems even more clear that Bernier will get the start and one must think that if he puts up another great performance that it will be hard for Carlyle to pull the hot net-minder from the net. Through Bernier’s first game and the action he saw Saturday he has amassed an astounding 0.974% save percentage and 0.64 goals against average, allowing just one goal against on 47 shots. Bernier has also proved his value in shootouts going perfect Saturday while also stopping Flyer’s forward Wayne Simmonds on a penalty shot last Wednesday. Historically this has been a part of the game that Reimer has never been very strong at. Despite just giving up 4 goals in the contest it seemed, especially after one puck went by him, that Reimer got flustered and lost his composure. Reimer has had a tendency to scramble for pucks often leaving him out of position and in desperation to make a save (as was seen on Jared Cowen’s second period goal). Bernier on the other hand has looked to be much more calm and composed in the net and because of this always seems to be in the right position and ready to face his shooters. Something that maybe Reimer needs to look at in his game if he wants to steal the net back. It is obviously too early to assume that Bernier has stolen the starting role completely from Reimer especially after just one game in which Reimer slipped up. However, it is hard to look past the great play of Bernier. Reimer will likely see another opportunity for him to claim the position that prior to this season had his name on it. In saying that if Reimer doesn’t step up his play it looks as though Bernier may achieve exactly what he came to do in Toronto. Leaf fans there might be a new sheriff in town. Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman

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