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The Leafs furious start hits a speed bump. The silver lining.

Over the course of a gruelling 82 game season every team does it, they hit the wall, so to speak, as their schedule gets tougher. The Leafs seemingly were off to a record start with Mathews and Tavares ready to score 200 goals between them and Morgan Reilly about to demolish everything Bobby Orr has ever done, they had defeated the Stanley cup champs in their own barn but then Sidney Crosby arrived. The Leafs were quickly reminded that unless Andersen was in top form and ready to carry the team's defense they weren't going to just outscore everyone 7 to 6 as Gretzky and the Oilers used to in the 1980's. The NHL had changed and now teams had defense, good goalies and their own offense. Next came St Louis, a team off to bad a start and hungry to win and  win they did, beating the Maple Leafs  soundly 4 to 1. The Leafs were off to a very respectable 6 and 3 start but a certain reality had set in. The Leafs were waiting for Andersen to win every game again. They weren't hustling and were waiting for their power play or  power fully loaded offense to allow them to cheat other teams in the NHL.

Alas, the Maple Leafs were in the Eastern conference a complete beast that would only get worse as the season progressed. They had the Stanley cup champions Washington Capitals, there was Crosby,Malkin,Murray and former Leaf Phil Kessel, Yzerman's Stanley cup winning Tampa Bay Lightning not to mention arch nemesis Boston Bruins with that damn Chara on defense, not to mention former Leaf Tukka Rask in net. And let's not mention the Leaf's record against improving Buffalo and their loss to a surprising Ottawa Senator ,team. Perhaps the golden bubble had burst after all it was now some 10 games into the season and the other NHL teams would now start finding their game. By game 20 teams have usually worked on their weaknesses and started to gel, playing to their potential, as it were. The Leafs had found their potential early blowing teams straight out of the barn with a high powered offense, a much vaunted power play and some timely saves from goalies Andersen and new backup Garret Sparks.

Kyle Dubas had just flown over to Switzerland to talk to hold out William Nylander with one GM claiming Nylander wanted more than he was worth, rumoured to be $8 Million/yr long term. So Dubas had one chip he might be able to parlay into 2 things the Leafs would need to win a cup. Grit, hustle and defense but at $8 Million per year would there be any GM's willing to gamble on William Nylander and his potential ? It now seemed dubious. You see Dubas now not only had to find a GM willing and able to eat that kind of lunch but that GM must also have a top 2 defenseman he was willing to part with and that would take time. As the season progresses teams become hungry for offense ( see Philly signs JVR) as a lack of it can mean no playoffs, something many owners dread. At that point the pressure goes on the GM to " Do something !" from both ownership, the media and of course, the fans. Advantage Dubas, his team was going to the playoffs and he had until December first to make any hard and fast decision on the future of Leaf forward William Nylander who may have put himself into an odd position. Did any team want Nylander at $8 Million per year ? Could anyone fit that under their cap ? Possibly not and with Kappanen filling in admirably would the Leafs even consider it?

In all of this there was a definite silver lining. Many of the Leaf's support players were not playing upto par yet. Players such as Kadri, Brown, Johnsson, Gardiner all had more to give while Freddie Andersen has a penchant for starting to carry the team on his back around the game 20 mark, yet to come. The Leafs had lacked hustle and the lack of grit and determination found in players such Gilmour, Clark, Tucker, Domi etc. wasn't there. Their defense wasn't as good as some elite teams yet and everyone had forgotten how Andersen single handedly won many games last year while facing more rubber than a Goodyear factory. The Leafs were nowhere near firing on all cylinders and once the scoring machine Mathews and Tavares cooled they were now losing games and their weaknesses were being exposed early in the season. This was a blessing for Coach Babcock and a wake up call for the team. There was more to hockey than a hot power play. It was, in a way, back to the drawing board for Babcock who could now say " You see ! I told you this is the NHL!" and for new GM Kyle Dubas who now had much to ponder  with regards to the Nylander situation and the Leaf's needs for the rest of the season and the Playoffs in the Beastly East. After all the Leafs could be facing Pittsburgh, Washington, Tampa Bay or even Boston in the first round. Heaven help the Leafs if they think a questionable defense or a lack of grit and determination would get them past that group. Thankfully the management now knows this and so do many of the Leaf's rabid fans. Stay tuned, this soap we call Leaf Nation should get very interesting soon,as it always does in Toronto the center of the hockey media universe.

Is it time for the Leafs to consider trading Nylander?

With the signing of star Center John Tavares this summer, the Leafs hieracrchy changed and so did their cap situation, future speak.. they said. "We will manage it" they said. Then suddenly, the Toronto Maple Leaf's cap situation managed them. Did Dubas etc. foresee this ? Most likely. By signing Tavares Dubas gave himself leverage over a younger player who couldn't just walk away. Tavares apparently, only agreed to sign after talking to star Center Auston Mathews about " He better be in it for the long haul !"

So what did this all mean ? Radical culture change. This was now a family with a cause. To bring the cup back home for the first time since 1967, a  massive feat, given the history of this franchise that has only been matched by the Chicago Cubs. Alas, William Nylander advised by those not so interested in accomplishing that goal and more in longterm dollars derailed his chance. For better or worse the perception of many Leaf fans was that Nylander and his dad were greedy or Nylander was a spoilt millenial kid who said " I have to look after myself." And he was right perhaps, if one doesn't care about winning silverware. What he doesn't appreciate is that he hasn't really accomplished that much so far in his career. His play in last year's playoffs was underwheming to say the least, especially when you are playing alongside the likes of Auston Mathews, a player who many consider of the highest order. He hasn't shown anyone he is better than say Ehlers of Winnipeg who makes $6.5 Million per year, nor is he any better than The Maple Leaf's Morgan Reilly or Nazem Kadri, who make far less with more impact and a more substantial track record. Nylander is still all potential. His agent looks at Mathews and Mitch Marner and speculates what they might sign for or be worth and doesn't want his client to miss out on his big payday. The problem is Marner grew up dreaming a Maple Leafs cup at night and will never leave without one. Auston Mathews has already given his word to John Tavares who signed below market value to come here. Reilly and Kadri took fair market to be here.This left Nylander, the black sheep outside looking in.

The major point of weakness that will stop the Toronto Maple Leafs from winning the cup is and always will be defense. It is weak and pourous. The only 2 defenseman I wouldn't trade are Morgan Reilly and a young kid in Travis Dermott who is still learning the game. Veteran Ron Hainsey is now 37, Jake Gardiner will be a unrestricted free agent soon. Zaitsev was fresh coming off a brutal injury plagued year that left him as a question mark as was the rest of the whole defense. Everyone keeps saying it is "team defense." it isn't, it is a bad defense, a gambling, offense driven defense. The Leafs have the likes of Timothy Liljegren and newly drafted Sandin in their prospect pool and can't afford to get nothing for Gardiner. Their forward ranks are stacked and Tavares is an upgrade on Nylander supplying both proven experience, loyalty to the cause and leadership for Mathews.

Like it or not, this is a business yet no one should be above the team/ family and Nylander has broken rank. The Maple leafs have no choice now but to try and trade William Nylander and his dad/agent for the badly missing piece on defense. They have the assets to trade with and can throw in the likes of Gardiner, Zaitsev or even a first rounder/ prospects, if need be. I don't see that Dubas has much choice anymore. The season has started and once again the Maple Leafs defense has looked bad to many fans. They are simply outscoring the opposition as Tavares slowly adjusts to his new team, it often takes at least 10 games to gel. As the games get tougher, the need for a defenseman and more grit will get more pronounced. The last thing this team needs is to give up assets such as Gardiner( see JVR) and lose in the first round again. Maple Leaf fans need to brace for it, William Nylander could soon very well be gone and if he is, it is for the good of the team. If he must "take care of himself first." then so must this team. When you consider a trade you must look at many variables and one is, does this player want to be here and win ? The answer is "no !" For better or worse he has put himself above the team at a time they have a glaring need only his value can draw in a trade. No team will give you a star defenseman under contract or of major value for nothing anymore. They are simply too valuable and there is no way Toronto can fit one under cap and sign William Nylander to major dollars longterm. Something must give way and I highly doubt it is Dubas or Shanahan who will do so. Brace for it Leaf fans but unless Nylander and his agent give in, his days as a Leaf are now numbered.

I will leave it to the pundits to speculate on William Nylander's value to another team but you have to admit a package of say Nylander, soon to be UFA Jake Gardiner and a conditional first rounder will get some GM"s attention and I will bet those discussions will now start in earnest.

Update Oct. 22 2018: Dubas feels no pressure to trade Nylander. Both rumours and Nylander can sit. The minute Dubas signed Tavares he had till Dec 1st. Let's put one ice on it. Odds of Nylander being traded right now . Low.

Update Oct 27 2018 : Kappanen is more than filling in for Willy and I doubt he seeks $8M / yr. Kappanen was rated higher than Nylander before the draft, maybe they were right because he scores the big goals consistently.

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Life is great for Leaf fans as media "crys the blues."

It was the worst of times for the media types in Toronto, times had truly changed. For the media types it was the worst of all news. You see for decades they had made their living pouring their derision on the lowly but loyal Leaf fans who suffered through some of the most inept management and trades ever seen in professional sports. But one day, everything changed. Rogers Cable bought the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Ontario teacher's pension plan who were content just to cash in on the regular season gate receipts and didn't seem to care for playoff glory or it's riches in Toronto. Rogers hired Brennan Shanahan and then suddenly after decades of being the laughing stock of the NHL the fans were turning the tables on their evil oppressors and mocking them for hating the Leafs and her fans. The Leafs, other than unloading Phil Kessel were no longer making bad moves. They had Mike Babcock at the helm and finally got their star Center, Auston Mathews, number one overall in the NHL draft. Another turning point was when the Leaf's GM Lou Lamorello landed Fredrick Andersen for a very good price and out of nowhere Connor Brown and Andreas Johnsson appeared from the long forgotten Burke era. If that wasn't enough, Timothy Liljegren got mono  and free fell through the draft allowing Toronto to take him 17th overall in a weak draft class. Was that enough? Hardly. Mitch Marner(4th overall) and William Nylander(8th overall) started to rear their heads as well giving Toronto the best collection of forwards since the Oilers. At the same time the stubborn coach Mike Babcock got through to Morgan Reilly who finally emerged as a bonafide top 2 defenseman while Travis Dermott made huge strides in 2018 as well, all the way from the 2nd round in 2015. How could it get any better? Well, New York Islanders star Center John Tavares(former 1st overall pick) woke up one day and said " I'm going home to get a cup!" Thus the nightmare for the Toronto media who had for years made their living laughing at the Leafs and their fans had begun with a thunderous roar. To make matters even more delicious The Leaf's farm team the Toronto Marlies won the AHL's Calder cup giving The Maple Leafs a stream of soon to be ready NHL prospects for years to come. There was precious little for the Toronto media to pick apart anymore, how would they survive these lean times ? They couldn't just join the rabid Leaf fans who could smell a cup coming from miles away, so they told them to calm down and not get excited.

Consider this, Toronto's Center is 4th ranked Auston Mathews, 10th ranked John Tavarres and their 3rd line Centerman  is none other than  Nazem Kadri, the guy who shut down and crushed  Connor McDavid and scored 2 goals in the process. Their wingers included the likes of Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Connor Brown along with sniper Andreas Johnsson and speedster Kappanen not to mention veteran scorer Patrick Marleau.It is doubtful Toronto has ever had such a skilled group of forwards and still they added Tyler Ennis to the group while hard working Hyman brought up the rear. The Leafs also have some promising winger prospects such as Carl Grundstrom,Jeremy Bracco,Yegor Korshkov and Pierre Engvall marinating in the minors. In a word, Toronto is "Stacked!" The Leaf fans need apologize for nothing. This is an incredibly exciting team entering the 2018 NHL season and with the addition of a defenseman to play with Morgan Reilly becomes the cup favorite. So rave on Leaf fans, you have every right and you have earned it! Dubas has the assets and needless to say when the right offer comes he will add the needed pieces. I smell a cup within 2 seasons in Toronto and if you don't think this is one of the best teams in NHL hockey then you must be half blind.

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Latest trade rumours. Toronto Maple Leafs 2018/2019 season.

Well it is that time again, to decipher between grass concocted fantasies at the bar/work or reality driven murmurs from those in the supposed know. This is the net, so please take it with some salt.

 August 12th: weak rumour of Tyler Myers being traded to the Leafs.

Fake Twitter rumour : August 3rd-   The Maple Leafs sign William Nylander to a 6 year contract at an average of  $6.575 Million per year.

Rumour: August 1st 2018 - The are rumours Toronto has some interest in St Louis' Defenseman Colton Parayko. Hard to believe because St Louis is in win now mode and the price would be very high. I would imagine the bid starts with William Nylander who is apparently asking for $8M/yr to sign.We will follow this one as it would greatly help the Leafs defense but try not to lose any sleep as I would rate this one as not very likely to happen.

Nothing tangible to report on Nylander deal. We may be starting the season without him at this point. Thankfully we signed Tavares.

October 6 2018 : Rumour is William Nylander seeks $8.5 M and isn't budging on his demands. To me it looks like he will not be signed. The reality is Ehlers on Winnipeg makes $6.5M and there is nothing in Nylander's game set that implies he is better or even as good as Ehlers. If Winnipeg called and offered me Ehlers for Nylander straight up right now, I would take it. Odds are now good he will have to be traded, we simply can't make those numbers work with the group we have. Kadri, Andersen and Reilly all make about $5M each. I would now rate it above 50 percent he is traded and most likely for a defenseman. If that happens Gardiner(UFA soon) comes into play.

Dumping McIheney may very well come back and bite us, cost cutting measure or not. Sparks needs to win some games and not get blown out or we may be looking for another backup G.

October 13 /18 : There is a rumour Colorado may offer sheet Nylander 6 yrs for $48M which would cost them four first rounders. Stay tuned.

October 20th :Rumours are that the Leafs won't be signing Nylander longterm for the money he wants rumoured to be $8M/yr. They will now negotiate on short term. No sign of a trade as of now.

October 27th  2018 :Another one bites the dust? It was about to be announced within days,William  Nylander was no longer practicing in Austria, new bridge deal... Not! Dubas has been taking in games and the most likely trading partner is... Carolina. They are on fire with a good young team and have the defense to barter with. I could also see a team like NYR being willing to pay Nylander his asking price. But do they have the pieces?

* retarded talk of the month; Leafs will trade Kadri to make room for Nylander. Odds now zero, Mathews is injured again, Kadri goes nowhere.

November 3rd. Toronto just thumped Pittsburgh 5 to 0 with Morgan Reilly now off his leash and starting to look every bit the impact defenseman we always thought he would be. Odds are now very high Nylander gets traded. Dubas has been seen scouting other teams and December 1st gets closer. This was always going to happen. At $ 8M/yr. Nylander played his hand, fans must accept this but Toronto had no plan for this and made their move when they signed Tavares. Toronto needs pieces for the playoffs and Nylander is the collateral teams want and need, offense. The Leafs are plentiful offensively and something had to give and it did, Nylander opted out of Toronto in  his own way, " I need to take care of myself." I don't blame him but we cannot afford him and to win a cup a price must be paid. 87 percent chance now Dubas is getting ready to pull the trigger, his hand has been forced but in a way he must have known that when he signed Tavares. Nylander wants to be front and center and paid that way, he can never do that in Leafland. With Mathews, Tavares, Marner and Reilly in front of him he needs to go to a team where the competition to be spotlight is far more sparse and of course the GM thinks his 41 pts. playing with Mathews is worth $8 M/ yr. Like it or not but Kappanen now replaces Nylander and life goes on just as did for the Oilers after Greztky went to L.A.. that's hockey.

Dubas enters a Brave New World. " No guts, no glory! "

During the Lou Lamoriello reign Toronto played a very conservative trade game not taking any real chances in order to preserve our prospect pool and to avoid some of the past mistakes of trading away high picks and then living to regret it. Tukka Rask, Russ Courtnall, Alex Steen, Scott Niedermayer  and even Roberto Luongo all went on to have great careers after being traded and so Lou played it very cautiously only giving up 2nd rounders to get Tomas Plekenac, Dan Boyle and giving up a late first rounder to get Frederick Andersen.In the end his cautiousness cost him his job and wasn't enough to get Toronto past the first round. During that time Toronto went from worst to 8th best in the league and still it cost him his job. A first round elimination simply won't do next year and could even cost more jobs should it happen, perhaps even Mike Babcock or who knows Shanny himself may feel some major heat. Toronto is an odd town and rightly so. They haven't seen a cup in over half a century and even the Cubs have ended their long drought.

Enter Dubas' Brave New World because  as was once said ," No guts, no glory!" Dubas inherited a team in good cap shape with a team full of young players and a few decent prospects still left in the cupboard after it had been pillaged over two years. The team has way too many wingers and when players like Grundstrom, Engvall and perhaps Jeremy Bracco arrive there simply won't be any room. Last year players with size played a major role with Washington re-signing Smith Pelly and perhaps signalling a new era back to impact players with some grit and size. Let's look at some of the other teams Toronto may face in next year's Stanley Cup Playoffs. Thanks to OVO16 of Hockeysfuture:

Capitals: Tom Wilson, Smith Pelly, Oshie, Orlov, Bowey
Blue Jackets: Josh Anderson, Foligno, Jenner, Dubinsky, Savard
Bruins: David Backes, Mcquaid, Chara, Miller
Lightning: JT Miller, Killorn, Paquette, Callahan, Andreoff, Coburn, Hedman
Penguins: Aston-Reese, Hornqvist, Rust, Letang, Oleksiak

What can Toronto respond with now that Matt Martin is gone? Kadri ? Didn't he just get suspended ? Can Kadri play his game and take that chance next year ? The answer is no. Toronto is stacked with talent with star John Tavares willingly jumping on board but those players need role players to chop wood for them and wear down other teams behemoths such as Chara. It wouldn't be wise to lose next year due to a lack of those type of players who seem to be coming back into style again, just look at the hulking Winnipeg Jets who Toronto could one day face in the finals. Late last year Winnipeg thumped Toronto soundly as many announced Winnipeg the best team in Canada. So, what does Toronto need to beat such teams in next year's playoffs ? In my opinion some size to do their dirty work and a top 4 defenseman who can help Frederick Andersen, who I think is a very good goalie. Sure the Leafs were nervous the first 2 games in Boston last year and they have added a star but does Toronto want to lose over a 7 game series because of a suspect defense again ? No, they don't. I can't prove a top 9 power forward would have changed the outcome last year but I fail to see how it would hurt. Some Leaf fans are in love with the idea of just outscoring every team but in the playoffs many teams have talent and sometimes role players get hot and make a huge difference in a series. Play the wrong team and one can get worn down, injured or in the case of Kadri, suspended. We can't let that happen.

Enter the trademan. Dubas has the assets, some of which we may never use. Does Jeremy Bracco have a future in Toronto ? Perhaps but is hard to see whose job he will steal. Toronto Marlies Carl Grundstrom may help but the jury is still out on whether he is ready to play fulltime in the NHL yet. While Zaitsev may get another year to prove himself due to injury last year, Gardiner needs to be upgraded. He is an offensive defenseman some teams may covet to help their powerplay etc. but some sacrifice must be made to get what we need. No one is giving away defenseman anymore. Some speak of Vancouver's  Tanev but he is injured too often and over valued by the Canucks who seem to think he will land Nylander. They can dream as Tanev  represents too much risk and will never land such a prize. I'm not even sure The Leaf's would do Gardiner straight up for him in a trade. One player they might look at is Winnipeg's Trouba or perhaps even Tyler Myers. No one knows what the price would be but it would be at least Gardiner and Brown with the possibility of Bracco or even our 2019 first rounder as sweetner. That player won't play for 4 or 5 years, if ever. If one looks at players taken from 26th to 30th in the last 10 years or more, the pickings are very slim, so you can stop howling at the moon. Dubas needs to make at least one more bold move and hope a useful Smith Pelly type player becomes available on the market before the trade deadline. He owes that to Toronto's long standing loyal fans as the horror of losing in the first round again will haunt him, Shanahan and Babcock if they don't. I just dread what could happen should we collapse in game 7... again. After all there is more to hockey than just statistics.

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Toronto Marlies playoff stats. 3 more LW on the way.

As if Toronto didn't have enough wingers, 3 more are on the way, 2 from Sweden. Grundstrom, Timashov and Engvall will likely all be pushing for NHL jobs soon.

Marlies playoff stats

There is no need for panic, The Maple Leafs have options.

I don't think Lou ever chases anything or McDonaugh wouldn't be playing on Tampa Bay right now. I don't think any one player can win us the Stanley cup anyway. Even if we had beat Boston somehow, we wouldn't have gotten far with Tampa and Pittsburgh waiting. We knew before the series our defense was incomplete and most knew Hainsey wasn't a top 2 guy at 37 or ever for that matter. We got a great lesson and if not for playoff nerves early in Boston and of course, Kadri not leaving for 3 games, we could have won. Coming back from 1 to 3 down isn't easy and Boston is one of the best teams in the NHL right now. Yes, the Leafs need a defenseman or two but I doubt they trade for an elite one... yet.

There will be no panic button move from this management team and they do have some options with Lupul coming off the books now. It won't be Nylander traded but if they do land a good defenseman, someone will have to go to make room for them. It won't be Dermott who is young and cheap or even Hainsey with one year left and can play on the 2nd/3rd pairing. Reilly is staying but Gardiner has one year left before UFA next summer. Should Toronto land a UFA, for example, he would fetch some assets or could be part of a trade to land a RHD. The Leafs may have learned a lesson as both Bozak and JVR could now walk for nothing and so could Plakenac for that matter.

No one is picking on Gardiner, the whole team lost. Was that Gardiner in game 1 and 2 ?  No, that was everyone, including Babcock blowing that offside goal. That was Kadri getting suspended for 3 games. The shades and wounds of 2013 caused a flashback and the fans being dismayed looked for a culprit. Then blame the whole defense. Blame management for not seeing it first. Blame Kadri for only getting 2 assists all series. This is all part of a learning curve for the whole team and the coach apparently. The days of trading Courtnall for Kordic or Rask for Raycroft or how about Kurvers for Scott Niedermayer are long gone. Management got the message and have options and assets. The point has been made. This is not a Stanley cup defense and changes will be made but there is no need for panic. No one is picking on Gardiner for the loss but someone will be gone and an upgrade will occur on defense. It just won't be Nylander as chasing isn't Lou's game, nor is overpaying. The whole league knows what we need but why overpay or get in a bidding war? This team is young and needs time and I doubt even Karlsson can lift us to the Lord Stanley cup singlehandedly. Doughty might but he isn't going anywhere nor could we afford $10 to $12 M per year to get him.

Stay patient and this will get resolved and a year or two of growing and maturing won't hurt this very young team either. When the deal is right it will get made. This isn't the time to panic, we weren't going to win it this year anyway. This team is about 2 years away and improvements will be made next season. But if we lose JVR and Bozak for nothing, do we really want Gardiner walking for zero as well?

On a footnote: Lou Lamoriello was relieved of his GM duties by Brendan Shanahan and a new GM/ era will begin...... It looks to me like Shanahan wants to win sooner rather than later.

Is size starting to play a major factor in the Playoffs?

I'm watching game 2 of the Winnipeg Jets versus Minnesota Wild as Zach Parise laments the Wild's inability to penetrate their zone and it occurs to me the Jets have Bifygulen, Laine, Schiefle, Wheeler, Tyler Myers and Trouba. They are mandhandling the Wild and to me look the playoff favorites in the West this year. The Jets truly have it all with skill, grit,size, scoring, defense and goaltending. Now can they resign Laine at $12M/yr.

Underdog to watch : Columbus Blue Jackets. Coming in hot. Highlights---->GM 1 April 12 CBJ vs Washington

Playoff nerves cost Toronto Maple Leafs in game 1- NHL playoffs 2018

We can't say we didn't expect it. That the Bruins would come out all guns blazing in the first game at home in Boston. It started early when Marchand scored a goal that should have called offside by at least Babcock himself. Hyman scored a very nice goal but the sit back and wait for counter attacks didn't work for Toronto on this night. The favored team won at home as expected and in the playoffs a 1-0 win is the same as a 10-1 loss, it looks better but in the end it's a loss and huge win for Boston who now carry the momentum into game 2.

Kadri tried to spark the Leafs but had little impact as Boston's size became evident. The Leafs can learn from this and can still regroup, after all a split was all they wanted or even needed. Andersen will need to regroup and play much better in game 2 Saturday in Boston and the Maple Leafs might want to consider playing Matt Martin, especially against giant Chara. A loss is a loss but let's hope that offside first goal isn't an omen, the Leafs need to win game 2 and Babcock needs to go back into his bag of tricks because he was ambushed tonight and Freddie wasn't ready.

Toronto beat Boston in ot game 7!

Well it appears the hockey godz may smile upon us yet. Tampa Bay may yet claim first place giving the Maple Leafs a rematch with the much hated Boston Bruins, a team Toronto can beat. Boston is what is known as a one line team, albeit a very good first line featuring Bergeron, Pastrnk and Marchand. Beyond that it gets a bit sparse thus Boston acquired aging Rick Nash at the Trade deadline this year. The key to that series is shutting down Boston's top line while Toronto rolls 3 offensive lines. Chara is no longer a spring chicken and McAvoy was recently injured, a lingering injury perhaps?

Toronto fans will no doubt remember being up 4 to 1 in game 7 going into the third and then amazingly losing 5 to 4 in OT as Bergeron scored for Boston.

Home ice advantage: Boston

Being rested : Toronto Maple Leafs. Boston had to play 5 extra games in the final quarter of the season, many high intensity, as they had 5 games on hand.

Defense: With Chara back there: Boston.
Gardiner and Zaitsev are question marks while Hainsey is 37 and may wear down in a long series.

Goaltending : Pick em. You will be hard pressed to find 2 better goalies.

Coaching: Babcock wins, Cassidy will be hard pressed to outwit Mike Babcock and has no NHL playoff experience.

Offense: Toronto has 3 scoring lines and can still put Johnsson and Kapanen on their 4th line with Plakenac.

Intangibles: Boston's players have more playoff experience but the Maple Leafs are young and fast.
There is only one player Marchand hates playing against. Plakenac, let's hope he can shut him down.

Series outcome: I recently put in a call to Nostradamus and he whispered" Kadri in OT game 7." A bitterly fought series will go to 7 games but if Toronto shuts down Boston's top line they will emerge victorious and payback will be complete.

Toronto wins in game 7 OT. The Bruins are tired and as the series goes on Toronto's younger and fresher legs will prevail. Just ask Nostradamus

Cool link for PC gamers -------->PC gamers goldmine

As of this writing Kadri is out on suspension. The entire series is on the line and the odds are about a hundred to one right now for the Maple Leafs. Nothing to lose and everything to learn. Bring it on.

NHL draft 2018 preview. - March

Well it's a tad early but in June the draft arrives. The year a tall 6ft 2 inch Swedish defender named Rasmus Dahlin  looks a shoo in to go number one. He has drawn comparisons to Karlsson but may be bigger and more like Hedman with major skills. Word is this is an average draft, so not as loaded say as the 2015 McDavid draft. As per Sportsnet. Bear in mind drafts vary and are projections. In this draft you may see highly differing opinions after the top 10. The Leafs depending on how far they go into the playoffs will likely be drafting after the top 20 and may be as low as say 25th overall.

Odds to win the 2018 NHL Draft lottery

Arizona Coyotes55 points18.0%48.1%
Buffalo Sabres56 points12.5%36.2%
Vancouver Canucks59 points10.5%31.2%
Ottawa Senators59 points9.5%28.6%
Montreal Canadiens62 points8.5%25.9%
Detroit Red Wings63 points7.6%23.4%
Edmonton Oilers64 points6.7%20.9%
Chicago Blackhawks68 points5.8%18.3%
New York Rangers69 points5.4%17.1%
New York Islanders70 points4.5%14.4%
Carolina Hurricanes71 points3.3%10.7%
New York Islanders (via Flames)              78 points    2.7%    8.8%
Florida Panthers                                       75points     2.2%    7.2%

Anaheim Ducks                                        80 points    1.8%     5.9%
Philadelphia Flyers (via Blues)                 79 points    1.0%     3.3%

Rasmus Dahlin, D, 6-foot-2, 181 pounds (Frolunda, SHL): Erik Karlsson, Victor Hedman and now Dahlin. Are you ready for the next franchise-changing defenceman from Sweden?
2. Filip Zadina, RW, 6-foot-1, 196 pounds (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL): The Mooseheads’ import factory strikes again and sends a high-end sniper to the top of the NHL draft.
3. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, 6-foot-2, 186 pounds (Barrie Colts, OHL): Led all scorers at the Five Nations tournament and has put up points at a torrid pace with the Barrie Colts since the world juniors (38 in 22 games).
4. Brady Tkachuk, LW, 6-foot-3, 196 pounds (Boston University, NCAA): Better than older brother Matthew?
5. Adam Boqvist, D, 5-foot-11, 170 pounds (Almtuna IS, Allsvenskan): A fantastic skater and playmaker who isn’t afraid to shoot. If you don’t end up with Dahlin, getting Boqvist is more than just a consolation prize.
6. Noah Dobson, D, 6-foot-3, 180 pounds (Acadie-Bathurst Titan, QMJHL): The secret is out, this righthand shot blueliner is legit.
7. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 6-foot-1, 205 pounds (USNTDP): Eight points at the Five Nations (tied with tourney leader Svechnikov) and a solid spot on the U.S U18 top line, Wahlstrom continues to produce big in his draft year.
8. Evan Bouchard, D, 6-foot-2, 193 pounds (London Knights, OHL): Despite his Knights trading away most of their vets, Bouchard has continued to excel in all areas. February’s defenceman of the month in the OHL is also a natural leader.
9. Quinn Hughes, D, 5-foot-10, 174 pounds (U of Michigan, NCAA): One of the most creative players in the draft. An outstanding skater who can create even in the most challenging situations.
10. Isac Lundestrom, C, 6-foot, 185 pounds (Lulea, SHL): As one scout told me “he’s the Swedish Patrice Bergeron.” A lofty compliment, but the comparisons are there.
11. Barrett Hayton, C, 6-foot-1, 191 pounds (Sault Ste Marie Greyhounds, OHL):Extremely focussed and hard-working, Hayton is the “all-in” guy every team loves to have. Nursing a small injury and the ‘Hounds are being careful with him.
12. Joel Farabee, LW, 6-feet, 164 pounds (USNTDP): Hard-working, skilled playmaker who is magical with the puck on his stick.
13. Bode Wilde, D, 6-foot-3, 195 pounds (USNTDP): Offensive defenceman who plays physical. Leads all USNTDP blueliners with 32 points. Hard wrist and slap shot from the point.
14. Joe Veleno, C, 6-foot-1, 195 pounds (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL):Has excelled since the trade from Saint John to Drummondville where he’s being coached by the excellent Dominique Ducharme.
15. Grigori Denisenko, LW, 5-foot-11, 176 pounds (Yaroslavl Jr.): Great passer who also boasts a good shot. Played on the top line with Andrei Svechnikov and Alexander Kho