July 19, 2002

The Toronto Maple Leafs would have a great team,: if they were playing in 1996. Personally, I'm tired of the Leafs buying up and re-signing old, retiring players, especially of the European variety (I'll take a fighter and a grinder like Doug Gilmour or Gary Roberts over them any day). Since the draft, with all the trades, I give the Leafs a D-. The Red Wings, on the other hand have signed assistant coach Dave Lewis, and nabbed goalie Curtis Joseph. I'd give them a B, overall. What grade do you give your favorite team, in light of its recent transactions and roster shuffling?

posted by insomnyuk to hockey at 12:43 PM - 8 comments

I'd rank the Leafs as equal to what they were last year. And, lest we forget, that was 1 point away from tops in the conference -- which isn't half bad, really. Yes, Cujo is gone... but Belfour isn't a slouch, and should be equally as steady. Yushkevich was asking for more than he deserved, and they shipped him out. Got a guy in return. Not an entirely bad move when you consider that he might not even return to 100% following his blood clot. Though, I will say this (and it seems as though it's said every year): I'm really dissapointed that the Leafs didn't attempt to acquire a top-of-the-line defenseman.

posted by mkn at 01:43 PM on July 19

I like what the Dallas Stars have done, signing Bill Guerin and promoting Marty Turco after letting Ed Belfour go.

posted by rcade at 02:16 PM on July 19

I find it interesting that the Ducks have entered the free-agent fray, signing Oates, Olausson, and Sykora. They even made a run at Amonte. As for the Leafs, they have made moves equivalent to putting a Band-Aid on an ebola patient. Svehla for Yushkevich is a zero-gain trade...they traded their best defenceman for an equally good defenceman. Their defence corps as a whole is still piss-poor, and now they have a slightly inferior goalie in Belfour. Fitzgerald is not an impact, and they don't really have anyone who can fill Roberts' skates until his surgery is over. They almost lost Domi and they haven't really made an effort to go after those missing puzzle pieces that would make them contenders. And how do they reward their fans? By raising ticket prices again. I tell ya, the Leafs are the kind of team that, well, only a Leaf fan could like. The Stars have done well, and will be contenders again next year. The Rangers, I'm not so sure. The Bruins will be relegated to the middle of the standings where they belong, and the Blackhawks should fade into irrelevancy once again. Some teams have been surprisingly idle, namely Philly and St. Louis...one wonders what they have in store. I think I remember hearing that the Flyers weren't planning on changing much, since they have a very talented team. If that's the case, I'd love for the Sens to meet the Flyers in the first round again, so that Clarke can be humbled one more time... (as for my team, I'm happy they signed Alfredsson, but at the expense of McEachern I'm not so sure...I hope to see Jason Spezza and/or Antoine Vermette wearing the red-gold-black next season...)

posted by Succa at 05:55 PM on July 19

You can't be too upset about McEachern (production wise), he is well on his way out. Keeping Alfredsson is the key for the Senators, for sure. I'm also quite impressed with the Stars, they are going to be in a good position in the West to do well. Hopefully, the Rangers will crash and burn again, just to prove that more money doesn't solve everything.

posted by insomnyuk at 06:40 PM on July 19

Dammit, Succa, the bruins don't belong in the middle of the standings. You're right though, that's where they will be this year. Correct again, just like when you called the fact that Theodore was going to carry Montreal past the B's in the first round of the playoffs. You bastard. The Bruins are going to be mediocre this year. I agree with not giving Guerin the money he got from Dallas, and that Holik crap didn't help with the ridiculous salary increases around the league (I'll get to that in a minute), but damn! The team has to spend some money to keep their talent. Oates, Carter, Allison, and now Guerin. Hell, even Bobby Orr! Boston is the 5th largest market in North America, and we get outbid for Selanne by the Coyotes? It's okay to let Guerin test the league because he's a UFA, but they've let plenty of other talent go for no reason other than being too tight with a dime. Then they hire chumps like Grosek, who is an irritant in the locker room. Who needs Guerin when you've got Grosek? The Bruins have great offensive prospects, like Ivan Huml, Lee Goren, and Sergei Zinovjev, and they still insist on clogging the depth charts with 3rd tier NHLers. Marty McInnis? I like the guy, but seriously. And for those that haven't heard it, Kyle McLaren has asked for a trade. Even when he's hurt (which is most of the time), he's Boston's best D-man. That makes our defensive unit even more suspect than it was last year. Kyle says that he wants a change because his "luck hasn't been good in Boston", but I'm betting that he's fed up with management. It's understandable, really. Also killing the Bruins is the fact that now their owner and GM wont pony up the dough to sign anyone for more than two years, because the CBA expires in 2004. Dickbags. Good thing we have Martin LaPointe at 5 mil for the next four years, though. Unless something great happens, the Bruins will be in a dogfight for 7th or 8th in the playoffs this year. Oh, and as far as the Rangers go, I can't wait until they crash and burn again. Paying ten billion dollars a year for a second line center or whatever it was was really bad for the NHL, but otherwise Holik is a good signing. Still, they've got too many egos on the team. And even though they got rid of Fleury, they made up for it by signing Darius Kasparitis, thus maintaining their status as the team with the most assholes on the roster. Look for them to come out of the gate quickly, and then fall apart in the second half of the season. Again. The Leafs will be a little worse than they were last year, but still very good. Dallas will be much improved, and might even be able to challenge Detroit (sorry adampsyche) and Colorado. Ottawa's going to be a lot better this year, too. Anyway, thanks for asking, Insomnyuk. Sorry about the length of the post, but I feel much better now. On preview, Insomnyuk beat me to it with the Rangers and Stars thing.

posted by Samsonov14 at 06:48 PM on July 19

Also, where are Garfield and 86 and the other Ranger's fans?

posted by Samsonov14 at 06:51 PM on July 19

I'm overall quite pleased with my local team, the Vancouver Canucks, despite the fact they've made very few moves in the post season. Sure we've had two first round eliminations in the past two playoffs (after squeaking in both times); however, the Canucks have become one of the most consistently entertaining teams to watch over the past few years. Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi are both amazing: while Naslund's wrist shot is among the best in the league, Bertuzzi has this astounding technique whereby he holds off a defenceman with one hand while continuing to control the puck with the other, then glides in and makes a beautiful goal. A year ago no one would have thought that two Canucks would be #2 & #3 in the scoring race (or that the team would be #1 in the league in goals)? My biggest gripe with the team is that they seem to be at a loose end when it comes to goaltending. Dan Cloutier is improving, but he has a tendency to be either very stingy with goals or to give up 4-6. It also gets depressing to see goaltenders let go or traded away, then go on to give amazing performances for other teams (Irbe, Burke, Potvin, et. al.). This is a position that still needs to be addressed. Overall, I give the team a solid B (not re-signing Andrew Cassels could be a big mistake). As for the Leafs...*sigh*...it's hard to figure out what's going on with that team. They have the history, they have the fan base, they have the coaching and they have the cash...why don't they sign more players who can give them a better shot at the Cup? Grade: C minus.

posted by filmgoerjuan at 08:35 PM on July 19

Dammit, Succa, the bruins don't belong in the middle of the standings. You're right though, that's where they will be this year. Yep. I still don't think of the Bruins as a contending team. They overacheived last year. They have some interesting and talented players (I really like Nick Boynton and I have a soft spot for Rob Zamuner) but they don't have the experience or the depth to go anywhere special. You're right, the owner and GM are to blame for not opening their wallets (can you believe how easily Guerin and Dafoe were let go???) and the Bruins are a long way off from winning -- or even contending for -- the Cup. The Leafs have no real need to win or even make a Cup run, because the fan base is loyal enough that they'll sell out every game regardless of ticket prices. They run the business as a cash grab and not as a competitive hockey club, and I think it's despicable. If I were a Leaf fan I'd be boycotting. Ottawa underachieved last year and will do much better, esp. if they address the issue at centre. Still no 3rd line centre thus far, hopefully Spezza will change that. I'm upset to see McEachern go, because the guy had only one bad year (this past season). He's usually a 30+ goal scorer, even without being on Yashin's line. It's too bad that the team is under such financial constraints that they need to cut slumping 30 goal scorers. Vancouver will be better next year, I have no doubt. They were very impressive in the playoffs against Detroit. Being in Ontario, I don't get many opportunities to watch the Canucks play, but man...Bertuzzi is a hell of a player. I can't believe Team Canada was seriously considering taking Joe Thornton over this guy. What I want to know is....where the hell is Dafoe gonna land? I wouldn't be surprised if he was out of work next season. He doesn't command the salary that he's expecting, and he should have just re-signed with Boston so that he could play SOMEwhere.

posted by Succa at 01:16 AM on July 21

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