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Toronto Maple Leafs

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Dec 8, 2008
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So the leafs are starting a new season so i decided to make a thread like the toronto blue jays one. The leafs this year will be a tougher gritier team and have inproved dramaticly on the defencive end with the addition of 'the monster' and with bouchman, exelby, and komisarik. and also with the strong addition of phil kessil although i dont think hes was worth two firsts and a second draft picks. hopefully the leafs will make the playoffs this year:D

Toronto Maple Leafs: Season preview

Article by David Esposto on September 8, 2009

Four years without post-season hockey for Leaf Nation is tough to take. But with an off-season full of gritty acquisitions and most importantly, optimism, it seems Brian Burke and co. has not only made the Maple Leafs better, but bolder as well.

A decline in success and fortune had long been in the cards for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2008/2009 season. As they went on to win their first game of the season away to Detroit at the Joe Louis Arena, many in the Leaf Nation thought that maybe, for just a second, this could be the year. But once again optimism turned to pessimism as the Maple Leafs crashed out of the playoff race and finished on the outside looking in.

As another free-agent frenzy came and went, Burke and co. ensured the fans that change would be imminent. With his first full season as GM now underway, Burke has left his mark. The hard-nosed style he brings to the boardroom has been transported into an on-ice product. Tough and truculent has become the new ethos of a team desperate to rid themselves of the playoff curse.

Francois Beauchermin was one of Burke’s main acquisitions this summer.“Our goal is to make the playoffs next year; we’re going to have to make some changes to do it. We’re going to be a different team,†Burke said this summer.
A glimpse at the Leafs roster after a busy offseason will illustrate a trend. While many may be quick to harp on the Leafs lack of offensive firepower, the truth is that offense was never really the issue. The issue turned out to be the lack of defensive cover for one of the many goalies thrown into the mix by Coach Ron Wilson.

Whether it was Vesa Toskala, Curtis Joseph, Justin Pogge or Martin Gerber, there was only so much these goalies could do as the last line of defence. After finishing the season with a measly 81 points, their lowest point total since the post-lockout era, it was time for the team to undergo a wholesale change.
Gone is defenseman Pavel Kubina, who was shipped to the Atlanta Thrashers in exchange for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart (who was later traded to the Calgary Flames). But even while Burke was active on the trade front, his biggest moves were made via free agency. Added to a blue line already bolstering the likes of standout rookie Luke Schenn and Tomas Kaberle, the addition of former Montreal Canadien Mike Komisarek and former Anaheim Duck Francois Beauchemin give the leafs a bolder, tougher and grittier look. Upfront, the addition of former New York Ranger Colton Orr ensures that the offense will be well protected.

“I like a lot of hitting. I like a lot of fighting. We have a passive group. All year long, when a trainer was on the ice – it was always our trainer – that really bothered me. It will be a more hostile group in the fall,†said Burke.

Just as the “Burke rebuild†begins to take shape, it is important to remember that Rome was not built in a day. And with a more hostile group ready and willing to fight for their place among the NHL’s elite, hope and patience is needed across Leaf Nation if the Maple Leafs want to re-live the glory days of past eras
I hate the Leafs. Always have and always will (at least I plan to continue).

I think this year's team will finish 10th in the east. I struggle to see where goals are going to come from (even though last year they were 10th in the league in scoring, which still baffles me). I think the improved defense wins them an extra 4 or 5 games this season, but that still only puts them at around 91pts, which puts them around 9th or 10th, but not in a playoff spot.

As for Kessel, he needs guys around him who can take some of the attention and pressure off of him for him to be successful. Last year, he played with Savard (top 5 passer in the league) and there just isn't anyone in the Leafs lineup who comes close. Automatically the opposing team just has to stick their checking line on against kessel, and he becomes a non-factor.
Imo i dont think that kessel is worth TWO first round draft pics and a second. he isn't that good of a player. last year he got 35 goals.. -5 for not having anyone around him (unless kadri plays with him) and then -5 for being on the leafs lol just kidding but look what happened to blake, 43 goals and then 19 the next year (and i know he had cancer) but he only had 25 last year so i think kessel was a bad pick up.\

Btw: antropov had 35 goals last year and the leafs only got a second round pick for him. Kessel had the same amount and he got 2 firsts and a second sooo......
Antropov had a career high 28 goals last year, and that was his tenth season as a pro. Kessel's only played three years.

How well Kessel plays will obviously be a big factor in evaluating the trade, but maybe a bigger factor is how the the Leafs play. If they are as improved as Burke seems to think, it's a much smaller risk even if Kessel is less than great, but if they finish in the bottom five, it's a bad trade no matter how Kessel plays.

We shall see.
ya Kessel's youth is a huge bonus. People seem to forget that in the 2005 draft, 3 out of 30 teams said that if kessel was in the draft with Crosby, they would consider taking him first. Obviously that's insane to think today and when you take into consideration the hype that came with Sid, but it just goes to show how talented people considered Kessel to be. He fell in the 06 draft because of his attitude and I think he actually regressed slightly in his draft year from a guy who was an A+ prospect to an A or A-. He's going to be a minimum 30 goal scorer every year, but I don't think he's in the same sphere as Heatley or Ovechkin (50g+ annually).

Was two 1sts and a 2nd too much? Well, it depends how good Toronto is and what kind of picks those end up being. If the leafs really struggle and those picks end up in the top ten each year, Burke's head should be on a platter. But if the leafs become a playoff team, those picks won't guarentee an NHLer, nevermind a guy who will be impactful. I don't know anyone that would take picks over a proven high calibre player, so it's a decent deal. Also, because Kessel was an RFA, they automatically would have had to give up a 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but odds are if they offered an offer sheet, Boston would have just matched anyways, so Burke had no choice but to pay beyond that.
No one would have taken Kessel over Crosby, and that's not a slight against Kessel. Only guys like Orr, Lemieux or Gretzky would have been guaranteed to go before Crosby.
I think this year will be interesting for the Leafs. Sure Kessell is a great player, but he needs players of close to his equal skill on his line. Mats Sundin was an outstanding player, but he never had any good linemates since the post lockout era. A star player also needs some good supporting linemates, that's what's still missing for the Leafs. Back in the day, when the Leafs had Sundin, Mogilny, and Roberts they were a fairly competitive team. It's time to return to that direction with a balance of toughness and skill.
/\ your right about kessel, like jn_12 said above, kessel had savard on his line who is one of the leauges best playmakers. But if the leafs keep kadri up (fingers crossed) he can play on the line along with poni or blake. But the leafs look great in the preseason and im hoping they will make the playoffs and give boston peice of crap draft pics:D.
No one would have taken Kessel over Crosby, and that's not a slight against Kessel. Only guys like Orr, Lemieux or Gretzky would have been guaranteed to go before Crosby.

In hindsight. But there were people who were extremely high on Kessel and saw him as being on par with Crosby and Ovechkin, only without the marketing hype behind him that Crosby had. Like I said, only a few scouts said they would consider Kessel over Crosby, but that's enough to say "wow that guy has talent". Do a search of "Crosby and Kessel" in google of articles written in 2004 and 2005. The stuff written about Kessel and the comparisons made between him and Crosby are all over the place.
Where are these endless articles? Other than one CBC article, all I found were a few examples of fans spouting off on forums.

Crosby was easily the consensus pick by all 30 General Managers, in hindsight and at the time of the draft. What some fans or writers may have thought is all well and good, but irrelevant.
Not my fault you're lazy (or don't know how to use Google) here are a couple:
''This guy has got a great shot and great speed like Bure or a young Teemu Selanne when he came into the league,'' said Jim Nill, whose duties as the assistant general manager for the Detroit Red Wings includes overseeing the team's scouting. ''He goes 100 miles an hour but looks like he's just gliding out there. His shot's fantastic, too. The puck hits his stick, and it's gone.''

Nill added that if Kessel had entered the draft for 2005, the Pittsburgh Penguins, who had the first selection over all, might have had a tough discussion. The Penguins chose Sidney Crosby, who has flourished in his rookie season.

Ya that would be the AGM of the team with the best scouting system in the league making that claim.
Pierre Maguire, a former NHL coach and now a TSN hockey analyst, said several NHL general managers would have taken the six-foot, 190- pound Kessel over [Sidney Crosby] had he been available in the 2005 draft.
AND further:
From the Deluth News on Dec 24th 2005: (you probably can't access it because it's a pay site, but if you think I'm adding random links, then I'll go through my school's library and get the full version of the article for you.)
Former NHL coach Pierre Maguire, now a hockey analyst on OLN and Canada's said more than 10 general managers would have rated American Phil Kessel over Crosby
Now, Pierre Maguire is one of the most well connected NHL analysts around. He wouldn't put himself out on a limb and make a claim like that without any sort of truth behind it. If you want to dismiss his opinion then that's your choice. But I trust him more than anything you could say about this.

Also, those are just the articles that say exactly that some people would have considered Kessel over Crosby (and i didn't even include the CBC article). Go through every article (about 75-100+ that I found from 04-05) and you'll see a common theme: Phil Kessel is "America's Sidney Crosby". That, to me, suggests that he was considered on par with him.

So, if you want to ignore all of that because you apparently have more knowledge and inside connections than any NHL analyst or sports writer, then go ahead. So much has been written and said regarding this that it isn't even an argument and I can't believe I wasted my time on it.
Congratulations on believing everything you read

Jim Nill (not a GM) was working for a team that drafted nowhere near the top back, so I don't put much stock in that smokescreen attempt of a comment (in which his strongest words were "might have had a tough decision"). I guess the four other Sydney Crosby types in Kessel's draft who went ahead of him made it an even tougher decision.

Love the hyperbole from Pierre MacGuire, but he is working on TV for a reason. Where were the "more than ten general managers" to take Kessel #1 in '06? I guess they must have slept in.

By the way, there were a boatload of articles making the case that Victor Hedman should be drafted before John Tavares this past June, but no NHL GM was buying that either. You believed those pre-draft fluff pieces, didn't you?