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"Leaf Realist"
ON • Canada • 40 Years Old • Male

Leafs need 3!

Posted 9:42 PM ET | Comments 0
WIth the ride of the uneventful trade deadline now more than a week over, Leaf fans have gotten a glimpse of their "new look" team. A 3-1-1 record without Ponikarovsky and Stempniak in the line up is a step in the right direction- but a baby one at best. The Leafs managed to clear out some players who were part of or did nothing to change around the losing culture that has seeped so devastingly into the minds and body of any player who pulls on the Maple Leaf. The deadline did see Lee Sempniak moved for what now turns out to be the Leafs receving a 4th and 5th pick for Steen and Coliacovo. Oops! Ponikarovsky netted the Leafs a 21 year old and a 5th pick (acquired from NJ for SKuola) So, what the future holds with those picks that are 2- 3 years from playing in the bigs or becoming teachers (as a majority of draftees never make it) is as uncertain as the next Stanley Cup parade on Bay St. The focus is on the aftermath- the bodies that are a part of the Blue and White now and for the foreseeable future. For the Leafs to move truly into a new direction, they cannot count soley on young guys to be ready for roles they cannot fullfill- Ask Nylund, Richardson, Iafrate, Benning, Bester, Wregget, etc about that. They do need (and no small task) to allow the players to find roles they can handle and in fact overacheive in- something they were not able to do with Steen, Bell, Stajan, recently. To put major expectations on the "green team", "diaper dandies" "frat pack" or other cheesy nicknames attached to the youth (such as becoming instant 30 goal scorers) is one that is bound to result in unrealistic goals and disappointed fans - the same fans who watched a young Antropov and Ponikarovsky "underacheive" for years- when all they really did was meet their potential. They should be a lesson learned for the new blood. Though the Leafs need to fill a roster this year and thus, have to subject players to duties that can't be met, next season is management and coaches chance to get it right. The post deadline Leafs seem to have a bit more "get up and go" to them- but when you lack talent- the jump can only be sustained for so long. Leaf fans want Stalberg, Hanson, Caputi, Kulemin, and Bozak to to formulate a top 6. And as Bozak is consistently putting up "Matt Stajan" type #'s ,one can see how fans can be tormented with having too many mid range players fill 1st line roles. Watch Kessel in isolation for one period, heck, even one shift, and you'd see he is their only legitmate top 6 threat on a nightly basis. That is not to say the Leafs misfired in landing those youngsters via trade and USA college routes, but they have to be put in a position they can manage. Hanson has enough in him to be a big body and board presense on a 4 th line. With the potential of a Sjostrom on his left and an Orr on his right, you have the makings of a determined line of "10 minute men". Tyker Bozak's faceoff prowess and intelligence would make him a candidate for a 3rd line centreman. Luca Caputi's "never miss a shift" attitude and Kulemin's mindful play and unwavering work ethic make them options to flank Bozak. Stalberg's speed and shooting ability allows him to fill a role on a top 6 wing. Add a hint of Grabovski in the 2nd centre role. Throw Kessel on a top line wing and pieces begin to fit. What's missing of course are the assests at forward (the Leafs are set on D and in goal in my book) that actually get you into the playoffs and beyond - a top centre + 2 top wingers . So, if they could only convince Kovalchuck, Marleau, and Frolov to be on board with this plan, all would be well in Leaf Land. Hmm, I wonder if they would take "hockey universe" discounts to play in a pressure filled hockey market that hasn't made the playoffs in years and hasn't won a thing in over 40? Well, I tried.
Filed Under:   LEAFS 2010-11 Kovalchuck   Marleau   Frolov  
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