Saturday, October 5, 2019

Maple Leaf Style

I understand the way Babcock coaches. I know it is his way or no way at all. I get it. They are expected to toe the line, or any other expression you can think of that I missed.  But there is a line. Or should I say, borderline psychotic? Seriously—the benching of Jason Spezza makes him look bad. Spezza started with the Sens. He had family there. It would have been nice to see Jason play that night. It is not like Jason has not earned his spot; he especially looked good on the second powerplay unit.

I have a feeling that Spezza was not Babcock man. To be more precise, Kyle Dubas pick to the Maple Leafs. But when a player has had the career that  Jason Spezza has, he should get a bit more respect.  Jason has taken on the role of the fourth-line centre. He played the penalty kill. He took on the role like a man.

As for the game itself, the Leafs are still playing too loose and leaving Frederik Andersen to his own devices. I understand Babcock saying the offence will have to win the games, but it looks like a rerun of last year. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Yes, they won the game, I am just saying they need to tighten up in their own end. If the Leafs play like this, say in Tampa, they will get smoked. They can't afford the lack of discipline in their own end.

So how do we feel about the new captain? The Leafs could easily have picked one of four players; Matthews, Marner, or Rielly, and of course, Mr. Tavares. Tavares was the right choice. He is a leader by example. He makes everyone a better player. But the big story is on how Matthews accepted it. It is rumoured that he wanted the C.  Matthews could have whined and complained; instead, he took it out on the Sens. This hockey team has no issues with the leadership. The players have always put the team first and themselves second. If that continues, it might be an exciting season.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Book Review: She Was Dying Anyway

She Was Dying Anyway by: P.D. Workman

She Was Dying Anyway
Imagine you lost your sweetheart and would do anything to get her back. Then imagine she is knocking at your door and asks for your help. Then imagine that you are in a sort-of relationship Kenzie Kirsch who, being from the Medical Examiner's office, knows 50 ways to kill you. Just to complicate the matter, the case your ex wants you to investigate involves the murder of a woman who was dying anyway.

A person with any common sense would say no and run and run away very fast. But what does Zachary Goldman do? You guessed it; he lets her in. Of course, he would clean the toilet with his toothbrush if she asked him to.

Zachary takes on the case of Robin Salter, who according to Bridget, died prematurely. According to everyone who was not in love with Bridget, Robin died of natural causes. But Zachary tells Bridget he will look into it.

Kenzie knows he is only investigating because Bridget asked him to. Zachary is very good at what he does. The problem is that he does everything with reckless abandon. He leaves no stone unturned, but somebody is putting them all back. Everywhere he turns, he is getting blocked. Even Robin's own family doesn't want him to investigate her death.

She Was Dying Anyway will keep you on your edge of the seat!


Saturday, August 17, 2019

The Scoop on Mitchell Marner

I wish I had an update on Mitchell Marner, but unfortunately, I don't. So, here are my thoughts on why we need to get this done.  The Maple Leafs had two very good lines. I am sure that John Tavares would get his share of points one way or another; there is no doubt he would. But I am here to say that John would not have had a career year without Mitchell Marner.

Marner and Tavaras connect. If Tavaras is the coffee, Marner was the sugar and cream to go with it. Tavaras's success is vital to making the Leafs successful. John needs Marner giving him the biscuit to succeed.

Mitch was the leading scorer, with 94 points, and the leader in assists with 68. He was especially deadly on the powerplay, setting up Tavaras and Matthews on a one-timer. He is the best play-making forward on the team. No one can pass like him. Mitch is known for his hockey IQ; he is always thinking ahead. His job is to help Tavaras succeed as much as possible.

Marner is a gifted forward, but that is not his only asset. He is a leader who does what it takes to get the job done. He is tenacious in his play. He never quits; he expires his teammates to be better. Mitch is involved in every aspect of the game. If they are behind by one goal, he is on the ice making the pass to the player who has the best chance to score. But what makes Marner so valuable is he is also the one who is diving to block a shot — taking the hit to get the puck out and distributing the puck to the other forwards to the offensive zone.

The last point of getting him signed is what are the Leafs showing their fans if they don't get it done? When it comes down to it, who are the fans in a business? They are the customer, and it is the business goal to always to keep the fans happy. There is pressure on both sides to get this done. Management knows the Leafs' window is now. Marner knows they are the best chance for him to get his ring. The ultimate goal is the cup. The Leafs don't get that if they don't sign Marner.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Leafs' Life is Never Dull

Let's first discuss the issue of the backup to Andersen?  The trade of Sparks pretty much opens the door for Michael Hutchinson. I really like Michael. I think he gives the Leafs a chance every night he plays. The Maple Leafs offering Michal Neuvirth a PTO might muddy the waters. Michal Neuvirth is a bona fide NHL  goaltender, who has been plagued by injury issues. I would still pick  Hutchinson, but the Leafs are exploring all their options, which is wise.

The Sparks trade adds an interesting twist with the David Clarkson contract. The Clarkson contract gives the Leafs more LTIR. Which means they need to bury only two cheap players to get as close to the cap as possible and get LTIR relief.  The Maple Leafs could use that to sign Marner on the second game of the season.


The Leafs and Blues consummated a trade that sent defencemen Andreas Borgman to the Blues for defencemen Jordan Schmaltz. Most people were confused, thinking the Blues were getting the better player. The Leafs feel Schmaltz is more ready to compete for the number seven defencemen spot. Borgman is the better prospect and needs playing time, which he might not get in Toronto.  Again, it is a small deal, but the Leafs are adding depth on the blue line.

Look for the Leafs to dump some salary if they can. The Leafs do not want to wait to sign Marner. They only took the Clarkson contract in case they need to go that route. It may be harder than they think to make cap room, but they are exploring every option. There are no worries in the Marner negotiations. He really wants to be a Maple Leaf.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The Off-Season So Far

The biggest deal has to be the Kadri trade. Kadri, of course, vetoed the first trade, which would have sent him to Southern Alberta. The trade naturally had to happen for two reasons: first, for his lack of discipline in the playoffs and second, to make room for the Marner signing. It ended up only being for the first reason, because the Maple Leafs did not save any salary on the trade to Avs. So what did the Leafs get in acquiring  D Tyson Barrie (retaining 50% of salary) and F Alex Kerfoot?

D Tyson Barrie

Tyson is an offensive dman who will add to the deadly powerplay. Tyson is a great puck distributor. Even more importantly, he knows which player to give it to. Tyson will take the pressure off of Morgan Rielly big time. The Leafs now have two offensive defencemen who can get the puck up to the explosive forwards. Barrie is not known for his defensive play, but who is on the Maple Leafs? Of course, I am a little facetious, but you get my point. If you put him with Travis Dermott, it would be a perfect match. The only negative is Tyson is an RFA. There is speculation that Tyson wants 8 million a year.

F Alex Kerfoot

Alex is a versatile forward who can play centre or wing. Which means he can be a top-six forward. Again, he is another player who can move the puck upward with great speed. Alex will fit in nicely with the Maple Leafs' forwards and will be another weapon in their offensive game. He is a solid forward, and his being locked up is fantastic news for the Leafs.

What is next?

Can you say, Mitch Marner?  Can you say sign Mitch Marner? They are in dialogue every day and getting closer and closer to sign him. The Leafs are going to have to do another trade to make room for him. The most likely being Nylander. The problem they're having in trading Nylander is, who is going to fill in his offensive numbers? They have Jeremy Bracco coming up from the minors. The young prospective forward recorded 22 goals and 75 points for a grand total of 79 points. He is the closest and might be given a chance to stick with the Club.

How much will Marner get?  I suspect it will be 11 million for six years. It will be if the Leafs had anything to say about it. Marner wants 4 or 5 years the Leafs don't want Matthews and Marner going out at the same time. So they are countering with 2 or three years and 7-year offers.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

NHL Draft Predictions

Reblogged from Flames Scratch Pad

It is like Christmas for an NHL Scout this time of year. This is where they earn their money.  What makes this time of year so amazing it is how one player can be rated so high by one team and so low by another.  There are so many things to consider when a team drafts a player. For instance, you would not think that a team interview could make or break an opportunity for the player.  But teams take this seriously. Players have a lot of questions to answer.

This is where player IQ comes into effect.  It is so tricky to predict the order of the draft. I have seen a player drop from 4 to number 10. 

But let's take a shot at this anyway, shall we?

1. New Jersey Devils

Jack Hughes, Centre

Jack is a slick, playmaking centre. He can think on the fly, making plays out of nothing. Jack makes everyone around him better. He is willing to do what it takes to win. He passes with deadly accuracy, resulting in scoring chances and getting the puck out of danger.  He is an offensive dynamo who can change a game in an instant. A future linemate to Hall, if he is still there.

2. New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko, Right Wing

Kappo is the player is closest to playing in the NHL right now. Kaapo is very strong and is hard to take off the puck. He has a dangerous slap shot and an even more scary snapshot. He's more of a complete player than most of the kids. He is quite capable in his zone. I love Kappo's hockey smarts. He has played with men, which makes him stronger. He takes a hit without crumbling.  He will not stand down in the middle of the net.

3. Chicago Black Hawks

Alex Turcotte, Centre

The Wings are in dire need of a prominent young centre with some offensive touch.  Enter Alex Turcotte, precisely what the doctor ordered. He is a quick-skating forward who can change directions on the spur of the moment. He is a smart centre with good hands. Steady on the puck. A future Kevin Hays with a little more scoring power.  The Wings would be very lucky to get him.

4. Colorado Avalanche 

Dylan Cozens, Centre/Right Wing

I personally like Dylan more than Alex, but the experts say I am wrong.

Dylan has a quick release on his shot. More impressive is his intensity at getting the puck and hanging on to it.  He has some *blank* and vinegar (family site).  He has a  chip on his shoulder and uses it to his advantage in advancing the puck. He is a smart player who handles all of his teammates. Dylan has a quick release, and his nasty play gets under the skin of the opposing team. More importantly, he has all the ability offensively to turn him into a Tasmanian devil with the ability to score.

5. LA Kings

Bowen Byram, Defenceman

Bowen is a highly-touted defenceman.  He will make the perfect partner for  Drew Doughty, who could mould him into a future top pairing defenceman.    Bryram has all the ability in offensive skill if he can upgrade his defensive play, he will be a player to watch in the future.

6. Detroit Red Wings

Vasili Podkolzin, Right Wing

The Wings can be patient. They are in the middle of a rebuild. Waiting two years should not bother them too much. Vasili is a future power forward who plays one way. Strong like an ox, with a fantastic shot, he can score anytime. He is a smart big player who uses his size to his advantage. He can cause havoc in the offensive zone because nobody can take him off the puck. Vasili takes the shortest route to success. A pure sniper who will be the perfect top 6 forward the Hawks so desperately need.

7. Buffalo Sabres

Kirby Dach, Centre/Right Wing

Kirby is a big skilled player, who plays with the best of them. He has all of the ability to be a great offensive player.  Kirby thinks offensively first. He knows how to score. For a man his size, he has surprisingly soft hands. His versatility is a massive advantage for the Sabres, who can use him at wing or centre.

8. Edmonton Oilers

Matthew Boldy, Right Wing/Left Wing

Matthew has a hockey IQ that always puts him in the right spot at the right time. He has terrific skill with his feet. He will get the defence to look at the puck and intimidate dmen with his skill. The Oilers love his versatility, of playing both wings. I was told the Oilers want to win now. Unfortunately, there is is no sure thing in this draft, outside the top two picks.

9. Anaheim Ducks

Trevor Zegras, Centre

The Ducks are in dire need of a centre. Their lack of offence is well-known and has to improve for them to be a contender. Trevor is a dangerously smart centre who fits the bill.  Zegras is an elite offensive talent who can think with his feet. Elite Prospects has him as a centre and winger, which increases his value even more. The Ducks are in dire need of an offensive centre. Trevor fits the bill.

10. Vancouver Canucks

Peyton Krebs, Forward

Offensive dynamo is an excellent description of Peyton. He is a highly-skilled forward who can also play centre. He has overcome his size with aggressive play. Krebs has been a point forward per game, has a quick release, and good footwork. He can get dmen all turned around with his moves. Plays in all aspects of his game. He will to play the corners and get his nose dirty.

11.  Philadelphia Flyers

Cole Caufield, Forward

Cole is a dynamic forward who can score with the best of them. What makes Cole so explosive is his speed. He has defence on their heels; they are too busy looking for the puck, he just goes around them. Caulfield is a fantastic forward with speed to burn. Flyers could have a steal in the draft.

12. Minnesota Wild 

Philip Broberg, Defenceman

Phillip is a reliable defender who plays his position well. Has some offensive ability to go with his defensive awareness.  Steady, reliable nasty dman who will keep players honest. Has a puck knowledge good puck moving dman. 

13. Florida  Panthers

Spencer Knight, Goalie

Spencer is one of the best prospect goalies that have come up in a long time. He covers the angles well and follows the puck. His puck control is fantastic — a great future goalie.

14.  Arizona Coyotes 

Arthur Kaliyev, Forward

Arthur is an offensive forward who has excellent shot release. Arthur has a ton of potential of being a superstar.  He can make something out of nothing; he is capable of winning a game by himself. Kaliyev will help the Coyotes in offensive categories for years to come.

15.  Montreal Canadians

Raphaël Lavoie, Centre/Right Wing

Raphael Is big and talented and could be the power forward the Habs need. His biggest asset his long reach to get around the defencemen. Raphael has a sneaky snapshot. He is a very dangerous forward who uses his size to advantage. He has been an explosive force in the Quebec Junior League.

16. Colorado Avalanche

Victor Söderström, Defenceman

Victor is steady, reliable puck-moving defenceman.  A smooth skater who very good at transaction game. Victor is a great passer, an asset who can get the puck out of the defensive zone to the forwards. He has an above-average shot and the potential of being top pairing defencemen.

17. Las Vegas Golden Knights  

Alexander Newhook, Centre

Alexander is a terrific centre who has plenty of offensive skill. He is a smooth fast-skating centre with great hands.  Alexander has a fantastic accurate shot which can often fool goalies. He is consistently heading to the net. Newhook has his nose to the grindstone. He is a gifted centre determined to get the job done.

18.  Dallas Stars

Ryan Suzuki, Centre

Ryan is a smooth, sneaky centreman. He has a great release with quick hands. His ability to get to the where he is going faster gives him better chances to score. Ryan has a ton of potential of being an explosive centerman, and his hockey knowledge often puts him several plays ahead.

19. Ottawa Senators 

 Moritz Seider, Defenceman

Moritz has tremendous hockey IQ. He is a very smart defenceman who rarely gets out of place.  He does not shy away from roughness. He takes the body first and asks question later — a no-nonsense defender who has a chip on his shoulder — a leader by example.

20.   Winnipeg Jets

Cam York, Defenceman

York is a strong two-way defender who is always thinking of where he is supposed to be. York will get his teammates out of trouble. He is a very reliable defenceman. Cam will be a steady dman who makes up for mistakes with his speed. He may have to overcome a size issue in the  NHL.

21.  Pittsburgh Penguins 

Thomas Harley, Defenceman

Thomas, an offensive juggernaut powerplay specialist, will boost the Pens' powerplay.  He is a terrific puck-moving defenceman who can be used in all aspects of the game. He was used in the penalty kill as well as the powerplay. HIs defensive play does not match his offensive play, but he has true potential. He might be a project, but he could be a diamond in the rough.

22.  Los Angeles Kings

Philip Tomasino, Right Wing

Philip is a fast tempo player; his speed will catch the defence off-guard.  Philip has an outstanding snapshot that will hit the mark. The aggressive checker will get to loose pucks and will win puck battles. He has lots of intensity will get into payers head.

23.  New York Islanders

Brett Leason, Forward

The New York Islanders are in dire need of a power forward. Brett fills this need. He will eat you up and spit you up; a man's man, as they say.  He may not score 40 goals, but he will stick up for the smaller players. He will add toughness to the Islanders; line-up. He may be a 60 point guy. If the  Isles don't pick him, the Flames will.

24.  Nashville Predators

Matthew Robertson, Defenceman

Matthew Robertson's greatest asset is his cannon from the point. He will be a future powerplay quarterback.  He is a strong skater who will use his speed to bail his teammates out of trouble.  Robertson will use his size to play to his advantage. He is a great defender.

25. Washington Capitals

Samuel Poulin

Samuel is a power forward in the making, still young in between the ears. The Capitals are going to have to be patient with Samuel. He is very strong on his feet, a power forward in the offensive zone. Samuel has good speed with a great snapshot. He will get his share of goals going to the front of the net. The Capitals will have a good one for the future.

26.  Calgary Flames

Connor McMichael, Centre/Left Wing

Connor is a versatile forward who can play centre and wing. He can be used in all aspects of the game. Connor has great instincts with a terrific shot and  great hands. Connor has some nifty moves and is capable of making a play out of nothing. The Flames like their forwards to play more than one position, and they will love his versatility.

27.  Tampa Bay Lightning 

Alex Vlasic, Defenceman

Alex strongest asset is he is cool under pressure. He never panics. He keeps the puck moving. A great passer who will get the puck out of the zone. Overall, Alex has excellent skills. He may be a little raw, but his attitude and skills will come to the front. A solid defender.

28. Carolina Panthers

Yegor Afanasyev, Forward

Yegor is the Russian forward who can score. He is a future power forward who can use his size to his advantage. He has a great shot with soft hands. He needs to overcome his weakness in his speed. If he can overcome that, he will develop into a solid forward in years to come.

29.  Anaheim Ducks

Ville Heinola, Defenceman

Ville's biggest weakness is his size, but he has shown already he is capable of overcoming that obstacle. Ville already has experience playing in the pro league in Finland. He will mature more in the NHL. He is a puck-moving defenceman who has speed and the ability to move the puck. He plays a great transaction game, goes with the flow, and is capable of picking up the pace. The Ducks will have a good one if they are patient with him.

30. Buffalo Sabres

Bobby Brink, Right Wing/Left Wing

Bobby Brink is a smallish forward who can play both wings. He is one not to be taken lightly and has been proving the doubters wrong.  A determined winger who will get nasty to get the job done. He is just what the doctor ordered as far as the Sabres are concerned.

31. Boston Bruins

Jakob Pelletier, Centre

Jakob is a high-end centre who is known for vision. He is a skilled centre who is an excellent passer. Jakob will never give up. He fights for every inch he gets. His hockey IQ  is through the roof. He will outsmart the defence who are often left looking for their jockstraps when skates by him. He is a perfect example of good things coming in small packages.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Calgary Flames Picks

Okay, it is time for me to make a fool of myself. Yes, time for me to put on my imaginary Calgary GM hat and pretend to know what I am doing.  If I were a Flames GM, I would want a top-six forward.  But picking at number 26 makes it difficult to achieve that goal.

So the Flames have to find a diamond in the rough.  The Flames would love to draft Brett Leason, but I have it on good authority he won't be there. The Islanders are in dire need of a power forward, so I am sure Brett will be gone before the Flames' first pick.

So eliminating Leason, what players might still be available?

27. Connor McMichael, Forward/Centre/Wing

Connor is a versatile forward who can play centre and wing. He can be used in all aspects of the game. Connor has great instincts,  great hands and a terrific shot. Connor has some nifty moves and is capable of making a play out of nothing.  The Flames like their forwards to play more than one position and will love his versatility.

88. Nando Eggenberger, Wing

Eggenberger is a big, strong winger.  The Flames need to get bigger up front.  Nando is not the most skilled forward, but he could develop into a solid third line winger willing get his hands dirty.

Here are my other picks without explanation:

116 William Constantinou - defence
150 Mattias Norlinder - defence
214 Brayden Guy - right winger