Archive for December 17th, 2008

Toronto’s KICK “EM or KEEP “EM Roster Report . . .

December 17th, 2008

Toronto Maple Leafs Roster this season has been at times a hard working although soft line-up that has as of last nights shoot-out win against New Jersey is playing 500 hockey at 12-12- 6 for 30 PTS 3 points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

So there may be some that would say hey if they are only 3 points out of a playoff spot and playing 500 hockey then with some key additions to their line-up they can get into the playoffs and make a bit of a run when there?

The answer is  NO NO NO!!!, Leafs have to get bigger, much much tougher and one whole hell of a lot harder to play against night in and night out. Say what you want about the old Leafs team when Pat Quinn was running things but I had players that I represented that played against those teams,  it wasn’t fun playing against not only some veteran skilled forwards led by soon to be Ranger or Canuck Mats Sundin but Gary Roberts, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi, Wade Belak to name a few. Toronto was known as a veteran hockey club that could beat you anyway you liked. These teams were Toronto’s first real shot at their first Stanley Cup since 1967.

Now for the Leafs to get better they must overhaul the softness from this current roster and to do that you must make some hard decisions going forward.

Brian Burke must first go on HIGH ALERT for soon to be free agents like defenseman Mike Komisarek of the Habs and then focus all his money and cap room on Blue Jackets soon to be free agent Rick Nash. Komisarek is tough, gritty and is very difficult to play against. Nash is a big man that can play and has a great shot and moves at the net. Nash I’ve scene play since he was younger and he has developed nicely into a prime time player. What a difference this would make along with the others that I will go over below. These trades are hard to make now a days and the basic instinct is to make them towards the trade deadline when teams are desperate for help.

Goalie: Vesa Toskala : The jury is still out on Vesa, he can be very good to very bad. If he gets more consistent in the very good category then he is a KEEPER.

Curtis Joseph: KICK “EM , Curtis better days are long behind him, future goalie coach?

Defence: Thomas Kaberle: KICK “EM, Through trade at this years deadline make a team overpay you like the Flyer’s tried to at last years deadline for Carter who now has 22 Goals. If Kaberle didn’t say no to this deal , Carter would be in Toronto and your number one center rather than Stajan.

Jeff Finger: KEEP “EM: The only reason I say this is because with his contract Finger got from Fletcher you will never ever be able to move him/ He is prone for large give aways that  have resulted in Goals against but if used as a 5-6th D he may well come around to be useful.

Pavel Kubina : KEEP “EM: He is a big guy with a hard shot and although over paid worth the risk with his combination of skill and size good 5th.

Luke Schenn: KEEP “EM: The rookie has shown his worth in terms of defensive poise/play and has the balls to fight for his teammates even know not all that tough at the age of 19. Build around this kid and he will be a top 4 D in the years to come if not already under Wilson’s coaching.

Mike Van Ryan: KEEP “EM: This guy was highly rated when he first came into league and has had some injury issues over the years . But is a solid two way D that can provide some 2nd unit PP time with some added grit in his own zone.

Jonas Frogan: KEEP “EM: Frogan is going to develop into a worth while D that can play a little bit  at both ends for you and is a nice 6th D.

Ian White: KEEP “EM: I wouldn’t have said this until Wilson used him on forward this year and it worked. He can become a 7th D, when you have injuries put him on D and a spare Fwd when you don’t.

So with the free agent must signing of Komisarek there are your 7 D’s for next season.

Nik Antropov: KICK ‘EM: Antropov under Sundin was starting to become a star. But that since Sundin’s departure has stalled. Look I hate to give up on a talent as good as Antropov but he is lazy and skilled and doesn’t have the drive to be a true champion winner. If  Burke can fool a team at the deadline that is desperate for skill and land another solid forward back with grit and skill then make the deal!

Niklas Hagman: KEEP “EM: Like Burke has said you can have a small skill forward in today’s game without a problem, but he has to have some passion and heart to go along with the skill set that Hagman obviously has. Very useful top 6 forward.

Matt Stajan: KICK “EM: Fast as you can possibly suck some team into taking this soft kid do it! The Leafs tried at last years deadline to deal Stajan with no takers. Stajan doesn’t have the jam to be a front line player , don’t get fooled by his production at times he will never be a championship top 6 forward its as simple as that. Never win with soft, scared shy away from traffic players like Stajan. Some Toronto media were laughably talking about Stajan as captain this past summer.

Lee Stempiak: KICK “EM: Lee has been a major disappointment for Toronto ever since he was acquired. Leafs may have to eat his salary and bring him back and hope that he starts to score again. If he ever woke up may be able to keep him on your 3rd-4th lines, but if there are any takers and that’s a big if , deal him !

M.Grabovski: KEEP ‘EM: This was a great pick-up. He is a skilled Russian that has some jam to his game. Very high skill set and seems to blossom playing with Hagman. Can score and you can’t teach that.

N.Kulemin: KICK “EM: Too many Russians won’t work! He’s been ok at times this season but not good enough to be or stay in the top 6. Has upside and abilities are clear but not in Toronto.

Ryan Hollweg: KICK ‘EM; Hollweg although you got to love his willingness,he is just plain bad. Can’t really fight, can’t really play, was weak attempt at adding grit by Cliff in the summer.

Jamal Mayers: KEEP “EM: Jamal is a fast skater who can kill penalties and will fight for his teammates. Played with Danton is St Louis is  a well liked teammate. Worth it to have him in your bottom 6 forwards.

A.Ponikarovsky: KICK”EM: Same as his buddy Antropov has under achieved without Sundin and is not worth the upside that he may provide. If like Antorpov you can trade him do it and bring something back that may not be as good but can play with more heart and dedication to puck battles.

John Mitchell: KEEP “EM: This guy has shocked me! He can really play and uses his size well. Needs to be a little more meaner on the ice, but with Moore and Mayers can be useful 3rd to 4th liner.

Jason Blake: KICK”EM: On the same train you send Stajan out make sure Blake is on that train with him. Useless underachieving ex-Islander is small and weak and wants nothing to do with the team goals. Blake was the biggest mistake JFJ made as GM. Buy him out this summer without a thought.

D.Moore: KEEP “EM: Has really surprised me with his grit. I knew this kid when he was younger and always a very polite kid with skill. Has an element of grit and useful 4th liner C on a good team.

TORONTO IN A NUT SHELL

Toronto absolutely needs to get a legit tough guy in their line-up as soon as possible. Rumours are Burke is working on that over the holidays and this will be his 1st move. Let’s hope so, it’s long over due ever since the departure of Wade Belak.

So you add Rick Nash along with some more grit and skilled top 6 players through trades with the two Russians Antropov and Pony and then there is a start for the Leafs.

The Leafs have the starting points of a team that would resemble a playoff team with the right moves this ship can turn around. With free agency and the cap space Toronto has these moves can be made. Burke taking advantage of the right teams at the NHL deadline can make this team better rather quick.

Burke with  his dream team management have their work cut out for them!

For Hockey God I’m Dave Frost.

Wednesday’s NHL Games & Picks

December 17th, 2008

Wednesday’s Games and Picks:

NJD @ BUF: Take NJD, After shoot-out loss to the Leafs look for the Dev’s top to bounce back in Buff.

SJS @ CLB: Take SJS, The NHL’s best against a very inconsistant team without the fire power.

CGY @ MIN: Take CGY, This may one of the best games of the night both teams near the top .

EDM @ VAN: Take VAN, The Canucks will be in tough after Edm got blasted by Chicago at home.

NYR @ LAK: Take Rangers, NYR are in CA for the sunshine trip and should take the lower Kings