Is Brian Burke’s Lineup Tough Enough?

August 6th, 2011 1 Comment

When Brian Burke joined the Toronto Maple Leafs as general manager he promised a team that would provide fans with, as Burke said in November of 2008, “proper levels of pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence.” For many fans of the Blue and White, Burke’s words were music to their ears as the Leafs had, over time, become a team that was soft in the minds of many fans and opponents alike. Burke has often spoken about wanting to employ a roster of players that embraced a North American game—a team that is capable of being physical and tough while also carrying a reputation for dropping the gloves with the best of them. Throughout Burke’s re-tooling, we have seen him acquire a number of players that fit the mold he has boasted about, the question is, has Burke acquired enough toughness—


Tim Connolly: Will He Be The Toronto Maple Leafs’ Savior or Dud?

August 4th, 2011 No Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke made a number of changes over the summer, signing the likes of Philippe Dupuis Via Free agency and trading for John-Michael Liles, Matthew Lombardi (who is yet to set a date for return after an early season concussion in 2010-11) and Cody Franson. Liles and Franson look to be important pieces to solidifying the Maple Leafs defense, while the Buds will be happy with whatever Lombardi and Dupuis can contribute. Burke also extended the contract of goaltender James Reimer, while re-signing forwards Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak, as well as defensemen Carl Gunnarsson and Matt Lashoff, with the signing of defensive stalwart Luke Schenn expected any day now. While the impending Schenn signing will be huge for the Blue and White, the most important signing of the off-season looks to be free agent


What Can We Expect From The Toronto Maple Leafs In 2011-12?

July 24th, 2011 9 Comments

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke went into the summer of 2011 with two objectives: Strengthen his forward lines and acquire enough depth up front to give his team a fighting chance at a playoff spot. Free agent signings Tim Connolly, Phillippe Dupuis and Matthew Lombardi are expected to bolster the Leafs attack down the middle, while defensemen Cody Franson and John-Michael Liles (both acquired via trade) are expected to create offense from the back end—an area the Maple Leafs were abysmal at last season. Re-signing forward Clarke MacArthur will allow the Leafs to continue to employ one of the NHL’s most dangerous second lines which includes Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin—all of whom had career years in goals, assists and points in 2010-11. Together, MacArthur, Grabovski and Kulemin combined for 70 goals (including 21 power play markers) and


Are Goaltending Issues Looming For the Toronto Maple Leafs?

July 21st, 2011 2 Comments

Last season the Toronto Maple Leafs finished the 82-game schedule with the 25th ranked goals against per game at 2.99. It was a modest improvement from the Blue and Whites 3.21 goals against average in 2009-10 when the Leafs ranked 29th overall, but hardly good enough to be considered an elite defensive team. The off-season saw veteran goaltender J.S. Giguere take his act to the Colorado Avalanche, leaving sophomore James Reimer and the oft-injured Jonas “the monster” Gustavsson to assume the goaltending duties in 2011-12. Reimer recorded a 20-10-5 record with a 2.60 goals against average, .921 save percentage and three shutouts. All-in-all, Reimer’s numbers were excellent, especially when you consider Giguere’s 11-11-4 record (2.87 GAA, .900 SV%) and Gustavsson’s 6-13-2 record (3.29 GAA, .890 save percentage). The inconsistent play from Giguere and Gustavsson played a huge roll in the


Breaking News: The Toronto Maple Leafs Still Need a Centre

July 7th, 2011 No Comments

After the acquisitions of Matthew Lombardi and Tim Connolly, many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs felt that their beloved Buds had solved their need for a centre. Now, don’t get me wrong. When healthy, both Lombardi and Connolly can be effective players. That said, given Lombardi’s concussion issues that saw him miss 80 of the 82 games in the 2010-11 season (which still carries lingering effects) and Connolly’s fragile china doll reputation, there is every reason to believe Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is not done trying to address the centre position. As good a season as Mikhail Grabovski had last year, Burke looks to be penciling him onto the second line where he will play with Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin, all of whom had career years in 2010-11 playing as the Buds second unit. On the


Is Luke Schenn Trade bait?

July 6th, 2011 No Comments

When you look at the Toronto Maple Leafs defense corps there appears to be a logjam, not only at the NHL level, but on the farm as well. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has assembled a defense which includes team captain Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Keith Aulie, Mike Komisarek and the newly acquired John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson. Knocking on the door are a pair of youngsters, who, in many people’s minds, are not far off from being NHL ready. Originally taken in the first round (17th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Jake Gardiner came over from the Anaheim Ducks in the Francois Beauchemin deal. Known as a smooth skating, offensive defenseman with a high hockey IQ, Gardiner has the ability to be a top defenseman one day. While it is still very early, Gardiner is