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Been a die hard Leafs fan since birth. I remember watching the 93 playoffs, in an old run down community in Placentia Bay, NL when I was like 5. My dad used to have the TV hooked up to an old car battery, once the fellow who owned the generator used to shut her down for the night. Anyways, just a little background story.
The current Leafs. Coming into this past season, I was very skeptical of the Leafs having any success. Alas, the scammed their way in, and played very nice hockey most nights. I love the way Carlyle had them playing. This coming season, I don't feel a whole lot more safe. I don't hate the Clarkson or Bozak signing... but I feel maybe Bozak might have got paid a little more than his worth, based on the fact that Kessel is his buddy and likes playing with him. Bernier trade wasn't really giving up a whole lot in my opinion, I liked Frattin, but I think he would have just been a decent 3rd liner with offensive upside at best. I wish him the best, and hope I see him becoming a 20-30 goal scorer some day. Now Scrivens. He stressed me out, I remember hearing announcers say he was great at playing the puck, and he was most nights... but I was already terrified he was going to fumble the puck and cause a goal against every time he came out to play it. Decent goalie all the same. I've only see Bernier play a handful of games, but I was always excited to see him play, because he always stood out in my mind, because he won a World Junior Gold with Canada. Something a lot of recent junior goalies haven't been able to help out with.
Excuse the ramblings of a hockey nut. I'm really worried about Kadri's contract not being signed yet, as well as Franson. Kadri was amazing last season for the most part (which I never expected him to be, after the bumps he had gone through). I would like to see a bridge contract there, but I think the agent has too much arguing power with Henrique/Hall/Landeskog deals that have been signed. Either way, I'm thinking, or at least hoping he can be a consistent 60+ point guy with a ceiling a little higher even perhaps, depending on development. Franson, my favorite Leaf D-man last year, always dangerous, I loved to see him with the puck. The confidence Carlyle showed in him, I believe really helped him. I do honestly believe if he can figure out how to be a little more physical with that size, he'll be a top pairing right handed D-man in the league for a long time.
Some upcoming contract issues are going to obviously be with Kessel and Phaneuf. Phaneuf gets a lot of guff, but I don't hate him. I think he would be a great D, if he wasn't considered the best D on the team. Maybe not the best choice for captain either... but hey he captained the team to the playoffs for the first time in a long while. And Kessel, like many others, I hated the trade, I even hated it when it was first made. I don't believe one dimensional players are players you should build a team around. Mind you he has gotten better, especially playmaking wise. I loved his game last year, and he even seemed to get the Boston chip off his back and score a few against them in the playoffs... though they did break all Leafs fans hearts in the end.
All in all, I think Kessel will be signed, unless some crazy deal comes along for him, or he isn't playing well during the first half of the season. Phaneuf on the other hand. I think at least 50% of the fans have turned on him. Like I said, I do like him, but once the fans turn on you, it will only get worse. I would like to see a trade for a D-man of extra skill, as opposed to a pick or prospect, but I believe half of the teams in the league aren't willing to give up, what the Leafs brass believe he is, skills wise. It could be a tangle. Regardless... it would be awful to see him walk next summer for nothing *cough Sundin cough*.
I think the defense on Toronto is only average at best anyways. It seems like they have some good young offensive D coming through, but I don't know about Elite two way, or Shutdown defenseman. I HAVE to add... Mark Fraser is a beast, and he was my second favorite Leaf D last year. Monster - Pierre McGuire.
Anyways, here's hoping to a successful Leaf Year. Hope you enjoyed my blog, if not, and I decide to make another one, I'll contact my old English teacher for some better grammar and punctuation rules!
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