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Battle of Not-hockey-o; Leafs Chasing Mediocrity?

I'd like to take this opportunity to shoot down two stupid topics that have been beaten to death by the mainstream media since the lockout.

STORY NUMBER ONE: The Battle of Ontario Isn't Good Any More!

Well, thanks for that update. I've read about four articles in the last few days informing me that the Battle of Ontario is just not the way it was before. Really? I figured that since the Maple Leafs haven't made the playoffs in four years and haven't played a playoffs series against the Senators in longer, that notion would have faded into the background.

No, since the Senators have joined the Leafs in the basement of the Eastern Conference, apparently the story has new legs to it.

STORY NUMBER TWO: The Leafs are Mediocre and Won't Get a Good Draft Pick!

The Leafs have won three games, and they've taken teams to overtime for five straight. Thus, they apparently are going to go on an amazing winning streak from now until the end of the season. This story is clearly employed to upset the ever volatile Leafs fans, who get pulled up and down, left and right by the media whenever the Leaf's direction in the standings is uncertain.

For a while, the media was relatively quiet about things because the Leafs were consistently bad. But now that we're seeing some turbulence, it's time for the Toronto media to blow things out of proportion.


Found an article in the Vancouver Sun regarding the nonsense which is the trade deadline. If you're wondering why the GMs of the NHL are as silly as they are this time of year, Brian Burke has your answer.

Friday Leafs Tidbits: Kaberle Inquiries, Tavares Cup, Bob McK.


Alec Brownscombe is reporting that the Flames made a solid offer for Kaberle. Because Kaberle doesn't want to go to the West, there was no further discussion and Burke said no. It is not known whether the offer was enough to get the job done. Check the Leafs Hotstove Twitter page for more. I will have to get Twitter some time.


Bob McKenzie did an interview with Toronto Sports Media yesterday. Notably, he shot down the notion that Goligoski or Whitney to Toronto was even being discussed. There was a lot of interesting stuff talked about in the interview. I like listening to Bob McKenzie because I know he always speaks from the heart. He is impartial, connected, and level-headed. He also mentioned that he expects the trades to pick up before March 4th, with GMs franticly trying to get the job done before the sellers can hold them ransome on deadline day for large prices.


Leafs beat the Isles 5-4 in the shootout. Callup Stapleton gets the winner. Wonderful to see Stapleton get some success, because he's been incredibly prolific and consistent in the minors. He deserved this callup for sure, and I hope the Leafs find a spot for him on the roster. He got a hard look in training camp this year, and next year it will be the same. The guy came out of nowhere and is surprising people at every level of hockey he plays.

This put the Leafs a whopping 17 points ahead of the lowly masters of the basement, the Islanders. Their name suits them right now: they're on their own little island, in a league of their own (they would only be good in the AHL), and they're waiting to see who gets voted off the island on March 4th. I've become indifferent to the Leafs-Isles losing rivalry, because we just aren't as bad as them. Look at either teams roster and come back and tell me who you think has more talent. 17 points ahead, one point ahead, it's all the same. We won't ever be 30th in the league at this stage.


An intriguing article over at Maple Leafs Hotstove regarding the Whitney trade...allegedly the Leafs almost became part of a three way deal, and something could still go down. Check'er out.

And last but not least, vote on my new poll: How many first round picks will the Leafs have in this year's draft? While it's likely we'll have at least a second by the end of March 4th, Burke may be able to dangle our assets on draft day.

One Leafs Prospect for the Scrapheap

Reports out today are saying that Dmitry Vorobiev of the KHL, the Leafs fifth round selection in 2004, has been banned from the league due to having a history of heart problems.

This news comes on the heels of the tragic death of player Alexei Cherepanov who collapsed suddenly mid-game due to heart failure. Tighter regulations are being enforced by the league in an effort to rebuild its credibility and accountability, two things the KHL hasn't exactly oozed.

Brian Burke has stated that Vorobiev is not in the Leafs plans anyways. Hockey's Future had ranked Vorobiev the Leaf's #4 prospect, although I often question that website's neglected ranking system.

Quite a crop of youngsters we have ready to jump into the NHL, eh? Truly pathetic.

Cheers, We Lose

For the remaing portion of the season in front of us, most Leafs fans will be watching their team stumble through games and rotate in the standings between sixth, fifth and fourth last place in the league. It is, after all, a top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft that we're setting our sights on.

For the more hardcore Leafs fans among us, we're also hoping that the teams below in us in the standings win more games than us, so to prove our own draft position. That means, like a Proline ticket, we're cheering on teams we'd never dream of.

Fist pump in the air, the Thrashers dumped the Rangers. Hooray, the Islanders just took the Bruins to overtime.

While this is all good and fun, it's rather depressing for some of us. This league is about winning, not losing.

And it's also true that even if the Leafs rebuild, the window for winning a Stanley Cup will be smaller for us than it was in the past. Unless the Leafs scouts continue to bag excellent prospects in the draft, it'll be hard to hold onto our best players as they demand raises and long contracts.

In the current economic climate, most franchises are trying to come to terms with the reality that the salary cap may be shrinking in the years to come, and are being more selective on who they do and do not retain.

That means the teams with real chances at going for the big prize are going to foolishly hit the markets to sign the league's premium players to inflated, extended contracts. Meanwhile, the fans of teams that let them go delusionally laugh off the fact that their stars have left for money that their team was too smart to hand out.

The league is getting way too technical, and it's becoming too much a financial war. I don't like thinking about the cap, or who we won't be able to retain five years after we draft them.

I just want to enjoy some hockey.

Leafs Fire Renney

Looks like we got another coach fired. New York Rangers coach Tom Renney was given the axe today, the day after his team fell to the Maple Leafs in overtime by a score of 3-2. It turns out it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

It's still in our recent memory that Michel Therrien was fired after the Leafs totally embarrassed the Penguins 6-2 on February 14th, scoring five goals in the final frame.

Is it really that embarrassing to lose to us? I guess so. We're certainly not the reason these two coaches were fired. But admit it, if your team is supposed to make the playoffs and loses to the lowly Leafs, you've got reason to pout.

Kubina Will Not Be Traded Before March 4th: Report

According to Howard Berger, Pavel Kubina has not and will not provide Brian Burke with a list of ten teams he would waive his no-trade clause for before the March 4th trade deadline.

“Pavel wants to stay with us; he doesn’t want to waive his [no-trade] clause or give me a list of teams, and that’s fine with me,” said Burke on Sunday night as the Leafs took on the New York Rangers.

This is in line with my trade predictions from February and January. I did, however, anticipate that Kubina would provide a list of ten teams, so this news surprised me slightly.

Keep checking back for further speculation and reporting. The trade deadline is just nine days away.

In other news, further evidence that Prime Minister Harper is a Leafs fan.

Kaberle's List of 10 Teams

News reports came out yesterday stating that Tomas Kaberle would go to the Boston Bruins if the right offer was tabled.

This is actually not news at all, because Kaberle's list is apparently comprised of Eastern Conference teams. Whether there is any exception to that is uncertain.

Here is, likely, *drum roll please* what Kaberle's big bad top ten list looks like:

1. Boston Bruins
2. Washington Capitals
3. New Jersey Devils
4. Philadelphia Flyers
5. Montreal Canadiens
6. Florida Panthers
7. Buffalo Sabres
8. New York Rangers
9. Pittsburgh Penguins
10. Carolina Hurricanes

Look familiar? Now let's look at the possibility of each one of these teams trading with Kaberle.

Boston Bruins - Whether Boston could package a good enough deal to land Kaberle is unknown. What the Leafs would be glad to have: Brad Marchand and a pick.

Washington Capitals - Certainly would be a nice addition for Washington, but nobody said Washington needed powerplay help either. Leafs would be glad to have: 1st and Sami Lepisto or another pick.

New Jersey Devils - Rumours were that the Devils might try to bring back Niedermayer, so if and when that doesn't happen they could go for Kaberle. Leafs would be glad to have: 1st and Matthias Tedenby/Matt Corrente.

Philadelphia Flyers - It's not clear whether Timmonen is enough to get the Flyers deep into the playoffs, or through the neutral zone, for that matter. This is the same scenario as last year, in which the Flyers offered Carter and a first. What they could put together really depends. They're tight against the cap, so would Burke even talk if the Flyers wanted to send him a large salary? Leafs would be glad to have: Claude Giroux and a pick.

Montreal Canadiens - You can cross these guys off the list because Gainey couldn't wait and signed Matthieu Schneider.

Floriday Panthers - Can anyone say Kaberle-Bouwmeester blockbuster? Florida gets a guy who's already signed, and has already shown how well he mixes with Bryan McCabe. Florida may be forced to unload Bouwmeester, so who knows what could happen. Leafs would be glad to have: Jay Bouwmeester, but it would take more than just Kaberle. Kaberle and Antropov for Bouwmeester? Still might take more than that. Okay, Kaberle, Antropov and a 2nd round pick. Is that enough yet? If the answer is no, I hang up at this stage. If Bouwmeester couldn't happen, the Leafs could try to get Ellerby which has apparently fallen a bit out of favour with the Panthers brass.

Buffalo Sabres - They've got enough cap space, and Kaberle could fit nicely. Leafs would be glad to have: Nathan Gerbe and 1st.

New York Rangers - No cap space. They won't get it done. They're screwed in this situation. Wade Redden is to this season what Bryan McCabe was to last.

Pittsburgh Penguins - Kaberle would look great in a Pens uniform. The already potent offence wouldn't say no to Kaberle, but the priority will probably be to find a winger for Crosby. Leafs would be glad to have: Alex Goligoski and 1st. Goligoski rumours have been circulating already, as well as Whitney.

Carolina Hurricanes - They could use the boost as they're a borderline playoff team. Leafs would be glad to have: Zach Boychuk, which is a pipedream slightly. Otherwise I don't think Canes could put together a good enough offer.

Who's really in contention to land Kaberle here? My opinion, and this is pure speculation, is that the teams with the best chance at Kaberle are the Flyers, Panthers, Sabres and Devils. Barring that, perhaps a Western team will throw an offer at Burke.

Anything can happen.

Mats Downs the Leafs

Sundin Night in Canada ended in a dramatic fashion as none other than Mats Sundin was the third shooter in the shootout for the Vancouver Canucks with the game on his stick.

Being the clutch player he was, he came down the middle, faked the shot and went upstairs on his backhand. He did it with ease after a game where he clearly was not.

Given a standing ovation by the ACC crowd during a video-dedication, Sundin was visibly shook up. He took the faceoff after that brief moment teary eyed.

Despite the share of boos every time he touched the puck, there were also large numbers of fans who insisted on cheering in concert with the booing to drown them out.

Overall I'm satisfied by the fans response to the return of Sundin. And Sundin can relax now that it's all done.

Mats, thanks again for the 13 years of service.

UPDATE: To quote a Canucks fan from my Facebook account: "XXXX XXXX thinks that the Canucks win may have been scripted."

Trade Deadline Predictions

Today I'm going to give my predictions for the moves the Leafs make on or before March 4th. When the deadline passes, it will be interesting to see how I fared. Without further ado:

Jason Blake - GOES - Burke will find a decent offer, then reflect on the prospect of never having another opportunity to move him, and then acts.
Nik Antropov - GOES - He will attract interest, and won't be receiving a new contract.
Alexei Ponikarovsky - GOES - Having a good season, but really too timid to fit into Burke's formula.
Dominic Moore - STAYS - This one is dead simple. He knows his role, and he plays it well. He has an incredible hockey IQ and will surely be receiving a new contract offer.
Niklas Hagman - STAYS - Has proven his worth as a good overall player with some offensive flash.
Lee Stempniak - STAYS - Nobody wants him. He will certainly improve with better linemates. You know he's as frustrated with himself as fans are.
Matt Stajan - GOES - He's a young, good player, but Burke will find the right offer.
Mikhail Grabovski - STAYS - Showed some serious promise at the beginning of the season. Has excellent hands and speed, but must learn consistency.
Nikolai Kulemin - STAYS - Has earned his spot with the franchise for the forseeable future. A trophy of successful Leafs scouting.
John Mitchell - STAYS - Young, and considered one of the unofficial 'untouchables'.
Jamal Mayers - GOES - I think Burke gets a decent offer and parts ways with this veteran.
Jeremy Williams - STAYS - Young guy who just needs a bit more time crafting his overall game.
Brad May - STAYS - He came in to give a bit more grit. He'll retire at the end of the season.
Jiri Tlusty - STAYS - Not a chance Burke will get rid of this guy. Huge upside.
Ryan Hollweg - STAYS - Burke will fail to trade him.
Andre Deveaux - STAYS - Will return to the NHL once gaps need to be filled after March 4th.
Kris Newbury - STAYS - Deserving a look at the NHL level.
Boyd Devereaux - GOES - Doesn't serve much purpose for the young Leafs.

Tomas Kaberle - GOES - Despite Burke's reluctance, he will get the right offer.
Pavel Kubina - STAYS - Kubina keeps the backend respectable, and acts as the puckmover that Burke sees as essential.
Ian White - GOES - Is getting a ton of minutes to display his worth league-wide. Burke will get a decent offer.
Jeff Finger - STAYS - Doesn't earn his salary, and there will be limited interest. Burke will hold on, for now.
Mike Van Ryn - GOES - The only reason he ended up in Toronto is because of the necessity to move McCabe's contract. He's injury prone and Burke doesn't want that.
Luke Schenn - STAYS - Duh. A 22-minute a night teenager.
Jonas Frogren - STAYS - A nice snag from Europe. Plays the Burke style.
Jaime Sifers - STAYS - Youngster who will get his chance.

VESA TOSKALA - STAYS - Burke will field offers, but honestly, what choices does he have in net for the rest of this year?
CURTIS JOSEPH - STAYS - Will end his carreer in Blue and White.
JUSTIN POGGE - STAYS - Needs more time developing in minors and likely to recieve a new contract in the summer.

Read my January predictions to see how stupid or insightful they were.

The Tavares Cup!

With there being virtually no chance of the Leafs making the playoffs this year, I think it not to be rash to suggest that the last stretch of the season is a competition between who can be the worst team possible and get that #1 pick in this year's draft, barring a successful draft lottery.

Who will be the Biggest Loser? Like golf, the Tavares Cup is all about who can rack up the lowest score. Let's take a look at the competitors:

True Cup Contenders:
New York Islanders
Atlanta Thrashers
Toronto Maple Leafs
Colorado Avalanche

Runners Up:
Ottawa Senators
Tampa Bay Lightning

Thanks for Coming Out:
Los Angeles Kings
Phoenix Coyotes
Nashville Predators

Right now we sit five points ahead of the Atlanta Thrashers, who occupy 29th place, and 13 points ahead of New York. This is actually much, much closer than I expected. Once the Leafs got off to a .500 start in the first month or so, I thought we might have to settle for anywhere from the 8th-15th pick. Seems like we're at least going to try to make a run at the Cup.

But what's this? The Islanders and Thrashers seem to be making some big moves to worsen their rosters for a Cup run. The Thrashers recently traded Schneider to Montreal and the Islanders traded Comrie and Campoli to the Senators. This proactivity by these two teams means that they're serious about winning the TC this year, and the Senators are not. And I couldn't be happier that our divisional rival still thinks it can make the playoffs. Make it happen, Burkie.

Brian Burke celebrating the Leafs first Tavares Cup in franchise history.

Sundin Night in Canada

Well folks, the night has come. Mats Sundin returns to the Air Canada Center, except this time he wont be wearing a Leaf on his jersey. He will be wearing a big C with a whale stuck on it.

My one wish is that the Leafs fans show some class and cheer him. I'm divided over whether the fans at the Air Canada Center will boo or cheer. One part of me is saying that there's no way a Leafs legend such as Sundin could be booed. But another part tells me that the 'betrayal' of Sundin is still fresh in the minds of Leafs fans.

Instead of thinking the fans will cheer, or they will boo, I'll go for a mixture of the two.

I think at the end of the day Sundin will be loved by this city and respected as one of the greatest to don the uniform. Maybe not among the greatest players ever, but out of this franchise, he's been one of the best.

No matter how they treat Sundin on Saturday night, he'll know how the city really feels about him. He knows that if the team was still a competitor, he'd be sitting on the other bench, ready to slog his guts out for the Blue and White.

There's a reason he said this would be 'just another game'. It's because he's going to block all of the negative out, and finish his career with class. He'll get a chance to reflect when he hangs up the skates.

The Toronto Sun is asking Leafs fans to cheer for Sundin. I'd say he deserves it too. However, I just don't know how many ACC attendees they'll be able to reach out to in time.

Rick Nash to T.O.? Not So Fast Says the Spec

I'm well aware that the Hamilton Spectator chose to publish this article two weeks from the trade deadline because it would create the most stir among their minions, when really they have nothing to report, but I'll give them a link anyways.

It has all you'd ever want - rumour speculation about a big name player going to Toronto, and the usual making fun of Leaf fans for thinking they're the center of the universe.

Yes, damn those arrogant 15 year old fans for wanting to see a hometown boy come play for their team. Damn them.

Read what the Spec thinks of the prospect of Nash coming to Toronto when he hits free agency in 2010.

Attaboy, Tlusty! 5 Goal Game With the Marlies

Jiri Tlusty potted 5 goals tonight in the Toronto Marlies 8-5 win over the Syracuse Crunch.

That's a franchise record for goals by a Toronto Marlie. Impressive! The jury is still out on this guy's NHL potential, but this is good news.

We really need him to become an offensive force for this young, rebuilding team to have an impact in the coming years.

The Leafs took Tlusty 13th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Read more about the night over at the Marlies website.

Tank for Duchene?

Just thought I'd mention an article I found on ESPN about Matt Duchene. It talks about why he sticks out (or doesn't, for that matter).

So for all the folks who are starting to see that the Leafs really might have to settle for the third pick in the draft, it's not all doom and gloom. I would be extremely happy if the Leafs could get Duchene. I'm sure he's a guy that Burke would like too.

He isn't a player who would have an impact immediately, but he's the kind that could blossom into that go-to guy down the road (think: Jeff Carter, Mike Richards).

Of course, once you're in that bottom five, you're part of the lottery system in which all five have a chance at the first overall pick. We just need to stay in that pack and we're gold. Anything can happen!


Reports today are saying that Justin Pogge will be back in net for the Leafs when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday. This is another home game for Pogge, and he'll want to rebound from second straight loss to the Sabres, and third straight loss in total.

Pogge played well against the Sabres, except in the first part of the opening period. To be honest he just doesn't look ready for the NHL level, and he has a lot of holes in his game.

One notable problem is how early he goes down, which gives the shooter more time to aim upstairs. Hopefully with time he can play the style that he prefers, not necessarily what the NHL goalie coaches are telling him to do.

It's believed that the coaches are reluctant to start Joseph, so we may not see him play for a long time. The only reason Pogge isn't the backup is because Burke thinks he doesn't 'deserve' to be in the NHL, just yet. Probably good not to hand Pogge an NHL job until he can prove he is the real deal.

It's also widely believed that Burke will re-sign Pogge in the summer, when he becomes an RFA.

News: Pogge Called Up Again for Buffalo Rematch

Justin Pogge was called up to the Toronto Maple Leafs today, and may be starting in net against the Buffalo Sabres.

This is interesting because Pogge's last start was against the Sabres. It will also be the first time he plays in front of the home crowd at the ACC. This is not a coincidence, as the Leafs management continues to cross-examine his strengths and weaknesses in certain situations.

It will be good for him to play again versus the Sabres. Perhaps he can get into his groove against an opponent he's faced before. The pressure will be on, now that he's playing in front of disgruntled Leafs fans.

In his last outing he made 40 saves against the Buffalo Sabres despite getting very little defensive help.

This is his third NHL start, as he continues to be brought up to start single games and then returned to the AHL to play for the Marlies.

UPDATE: Pogge will be with the team for at least a week. There are three games in that span, and Pogge will be at least practicing with the Leafs. Leafs prospect James Reimer will be taking Pogge's place in goal for the Marlies.

Power Rankings Updated

Made another update to my Leafs Power Rankings. Check them out now.

Kubina, Kaberle Set the Table for Trades

Multiple sources are reporting today that both Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina will waive their no trade clauses, if asked.

So far this season, Burke has been very civil about the matter, stating that he will never ask them to waive their no trade clauses because they were earned.

Now it seems that Kaberle and Kubina would rather choose where they get traded to now, before Brian Burke is given full control in the summer. You see, the no-trade clause gives Kaberle and Kubina the leverage to approve where they go. However, a part of this clause states that if the Leafs fail to make the playoffs, they can be traded in the summer.

Kaberle's agent has already made it clear that they will cooperate with Burke's plans, were he to get a trade offer that benefitted the Leafs organization.

Kubina and his agent are a few steps behind, but it is believed that they will follow suit. Kubina and Kaberle have been friends for many years, and Kaberle was part of the reason Kubina came to Toronto. Kubina reiterated after the Leafs Skills Competition this weekend that he would be happy to stay, but willing to cooperate with Burke's plans, if that meant trading him.

As excited as I am for the Leaf's youth revolution to begin, I will feel a little deflated seeing Kaberle and Kubina go. They've been, for the most part, a treat to watch, and it will be sad to see such talent go elsewhere.

Kubina exercised his no trade clause in 2008, preventing a trade that would have sent him to the San Jose Sharks.

Kaberle also exercised his no-trade clause last year, preventing the Leafs from getting Jeff Carter, but he can be forgiven. He was simply following in the footsteps of the other players, who agreed to continue with the Leaf's 2008 playoff push. A quality guy like him will be hard to replace, but I will respect whatever Burke chooses to do.

Yea Moore, Nay Antropov; Schenn Picks Up

Yesterday, Brian Burke once again surprised nobody by opening his mouth when asked what's on his mind.

He told the media yesterday that the team is likely to negotiate a new contract with Dominic Moore, and seek to find a new home for Nik Antropov, who becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer.

As I wrote in January, these two actions are no surprise. Moore knows his role. So does Antropov, but he is, at best, the poor man's first liner.

Howard Berger wrote that it might not be the best policy to show his disregard for one of his players, in terms of trying to maximize Nik's trade value. This is partially true, seeing how teams now know that Burke is pressured to make a move now. But that doesn't change the fact - we're talking about Brian Burke.

Spector reports that it's hardly news to GMs that Antropov is on the block. I agree that a few loose cannon comments out of Burke's mouth won't affect the way teams percieve Antropov as a player.

And what is also true is that, in a Gaborik-less trade market, Antropov will be a forward sought by many teams.

First Goal Isn't The Only Thing Schenn Picks Up

The Toronto Star reports this morning that Luke Schenn alongside the other rookies were on hook for this year's rookie dinner tab.

"I just ate my steak and watched the guys order what they wanted...I can live with it. You're only a rookie once in the NHL."

It's good to hear about a little team bonding. They've got to get closer as a team if they want to work on their team cohesion going down the stretch. The tough thing is the fact that several of the players at that table might be gone by the end of the month. Such is life in the new NHL though. Just business as usual.

Congrats, Luke Schenn

There isn't anything better to me in pro sports than watching a wide-eyed rookie with a smile across his face the size of the Atlantic after his first taste at success in the bigs. As a hockey fan, when a young player scores his first NHL goal he's like a kid on Christmas morning. Try wiping that smile off his face!

It was Christmas for Leafs rookie Luke Schenn last night. He picked up the puck from the side boards near the end of the first period and fired off a wrist shot, Luke Schenn style, just looking to get the puck on net. And what do you know? It squeaked through, giving him his first career NHL goal.

The reaction was something to behold, both on the ice and on the bench, from Luke and from his teammates. It's obvious to even the most casual observer that the kid is well-loved, as with every bit of success he experiences, his teammates celebrate with him. As his smile spreads, so his teammates smile. And as he lifted his arms in jubilation at the first milestone of his young career, the spirit of his teammates rose as well. As he sat on the bench through the commercial time out, soaking it all in, he couldn't wipe the childlike grin off his face.

There's nothing like it. Soak it up, Luke; enjoy it for all it's worth and never forget the joy you felt in that moment. It is one of many milestones you'll get to in your career, but it will be one of the sweetest. So etch it permanently into your memory and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. You deserve it.

Merry Christmas, kid.

Down Goes Cowen

Just a small update here. Top prospect Jared Cowen blew out his knee yesterday and will be out for five months.

For a youngster trying to push himself up the NHL rankings, this is a devastating blow. Maple Leafs Hotstove recently made a good argument as to why the Leafs should draft a D-man this year. Check it out.

He is widely considered a top ten prospect for this year's draft, and hands down the number two defensive prospect, behind Swedish Elite League defensemen Victor Hedman.

Cowen was one of the last players cut from this year's U20 Canadian World Junior Team. He would have been a great addition, and will certaintly get his chance next December. That is, unless his team needs him that badly.

Brayden Schenn Love, Power Rankings, Pogge, Pickups

Poll: Will Kaberle Get Moved Before the Trade Deadline? Plus Last Week's Results

In this week's poll I'm asking you to reflect on the recent developments surrounding the Leaf's Tomas Kaberle. He is likely to still recieve lots of interest from playoff contenders despite his broken hand that will keep him out until late February/early March.

Burke, however, has made it clear that he's not eager to move Kaberle. A guy of his calibre is hard to replace. It only makes sense for Burke to trade Kaberle if the return is high and future oriented. For example, were the offer Karl Alzner or Thomas Hickey and a draft pick, it wouldn't be a bad move for Burke to make.

In last week's poll I asked you who the Leafs would pick, were they to draft third in 2009. In other words, I wanted to know who the number one guy is to Leafs fans after Tavares and Hedman, the consensus top two for this year's draft. Not surprisingly, a majority of you picked Brayden Schenn, the younger brother of current Leaf Luke Schenn. Brayden will definitely be scrutinized by Leafs scouts in the upcoming months, if not already. He is ranked 5th by NHL Central Scouting, right around where the Leafs might pick.

However, I must say that there probably is one guy who is far and away more talented than Schenn. His name is Matt Duchene. A prolific scorer for the OHL's Brampton Batallion, Duchene played for Canada's U18 squad and was one of the last cuts for this year's World U20 competition. I'm confident that if we had the third pick we would take Duchene, but if the Leafs hover around the 4-7 mark, we might be able to get Schenn. What a great thing it would be for Brayden to play with his older brother.

Rankings Reassessed

I've done another update to my power rankings list. In the last update I had Nik Antropov in the number one position. Who's the new number one? Go to the power rankings now.

Plyons Protecting Pogge

Justin Pogge was back in net against the Buffalo Sabres Wednesday as part of the Leaf's 'plan' to gauge what the blue-chip prospect is made of. You might think it's hard to gauge a goalie when the defence in front of him plays like a bunch of pylons. The fact is there, though - in spite of alowing five goals, Pogge was able to stop 40 other chances. That, in front of the defensive support he received that night, is simply remarkable.

He's a very athletic goaltender, and with time he will learn to use his body to cover the angles and conserve his energy. He won't say it himself, but he probably wishes he could get just a bit more help back there. If you're Justin Pogge, you hope the Leafs rebuilding plans begin from the back out.

Kronwall Claimed

Staffan Kronwall was claimed by the Washington Capitals today on re-entry waivers. Burke knew he was taking a risk by doing this, but it's probably for the best that Staffan gets a shot to play in the NHL, where he belongs. It's a shame he never got going with the Leafs, but we wish him all the best.

Burke's Kaberle Conundrum

As the countdown to the trade deadline kicks into motion, one thing which seems to have been taken for granted thus far, doesn't seem such a sure thing any more.

That is, the notion that Kaberle would be packing his bags for prospects and picks come the March 4th deadline. Broken hand and all, in likelihood Kaberle will be full in play at this year's trade deadline.

Yes, he almost got moved prior to the deadline last season, but that was on Cliff Fletcher's watch, a man given permission to blow the team up. Burke, it seems, might be planning on using a scalpel to repair this team, not a jackhammer.

Sure, it's a hell of a fun time to see what kind of return our top players might yield on the deadline, but then there's the reality that Burke might actually like some of those players staying put for the near future.

After all, Kaberle is a top-end offensive defenseman with a reasonable contract. He's a player that teams such as Ottawa and Tampa Bay wish they had. Both clubs actively sought to get a top end defenseman this summer, and they failed.

What do those two teams also have in common? They were picked to make the playoffs. Both will not see the postseason this year.

Burke himself stated that the problem with moving Kaberle is the truth that he would have to spend all offseason looking for a replacement. Maybe that's a challenge he just doesn't feel up to.

The fact is that Burke is only going to move Kaberle if the offer knocks him off his feet.

Last year the team was ready to trade him away for Jeff Carter and a first-rounder, but Kaberle exercized his no-trade clause and the motion was nixed. Now it seems the drag of losing has eroded Kaberle's reluctance to consider a trade.

If an offer similar to that of last season comes along, then Burke might just move on it. And come on, people, Kaberle isn't old.