Archive for June, 2012

Brotherly Love

- June 24th, 2012

At the start, anyway, the Brothers Schenn in Philadelphia might not have the impact of the Brothers Staal in Carolina. But given where defenceman Luke and forward Brayden are in their respective careers, don’t rule it out eventually.

If you watched much of the Flyers in the post-season, you saw Brayden Schenn emerge as the type of big-bodied forward any team craves. His play was solid enough that James van Riemsdyk could be deemed expendable and as a result was sent to the Leafs in the deal that brought Luke the other way.

If you followed Luke Schenn’s career close enough, you realize that change was needed. Perhaps asked to do too much as an 18-year-old, he struggled too often here and the sky-high potential many held for him started to wane. It was clear, for example, that coach Randy Carlyle didn’t have much faith in Schenn as his minutes dropped drastically late last season.

So now they are reunited in Philadelphia, brothers who rooted each on from afar and can now do it in the same dressing room. And as Brayden said, it may be just what the big brother ordered.

“Luke is my best friend,” Brayden Schenn told the Philadelphia Daily News. “We are very tight, we talk every day.

“Toronto was really good to him, but he didn’t have the greatest season. He needed a fresh start. I think this will have a huge impact on my career. We push each other, and he knows just what to say to get me going.

“It’s been a dream since we were kids. We always wondered if we would get the chance. We’re just lucky enough to do it so early in our careers.”

 

 

 

Leafs, Flyers trade all about potential

- June 23rd, 2012

When it comes right down to it, the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers traded potential for potential on Saturday afternoon.
Forward James van Riemsdyk could develop into a legitimate sniper who scores upward of 30-35 goals a year for the Leafs.
For the Flyers, defenceman Luke Schenn could finally realize the potential the Leafs saw in him when they selected him fifth overall just four years ago.
Now, though, it’s not easy to definitively say what each player will bring for his new team.
In van Riemsdyk, the Leafs don’t address the need for a greater physical presence up front, but they have added a 6-foot-3, 200-pound forward who isn’t afraid to go into the corners. Just don’t expect him to knock anyone over on his way there.
Certainly, van Riemsdyk, who has a knack for the net, shouldn’t be seen as a saviour for the Leafs at forward. The 23-year-old kid can play, but the Leafs need more than just a guy who has 47 goals in 197 career NHL games.
The native of Middletown, N.J., is just one piece for a Toronto club that missed the playoffs by a dozen points in 2011-12. And the Leafs have to hope that the injury troubles that limited van Riemsdyk to 43 games last season are history.
In Schenn, the Leafs have said goodbye to someone who became a steady voice in the locker room but struggled on the ice. He averaged 16 minutes two seconds of ice time this past season, his lowest in four years in the NHL. Not unlike goalie Jonas Gustavsson, whose rights were traded to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, Schenn often had confidence issues last season.
With the trading of Schenn – a deal that was rumoured to be happening during the winter but denied by Burke – the GM’s job of reshaping the Leafs doesn’t get any easier.
He still needs to add a No. 1 centre and a veteran goalie, and he again was adamant on Saturday in Pittsburgh a few hours before sending Schenn to Philly that he will not part with Jake Gardiner under any circumstance. With Schenn gone and Gardiner going nowhere, Burke’s options for more trading have decreased by two.
If you’re one of young forwards Joe Colborne or Nazem Kadri, you might not want to put a down payment on a house in Toronto.

Morrison: Rielly has speed to burn

- June 22nd, 2012

PITTSBURGH – Brian Burke told reporters his scouting staff was ecstatic with the pick of defenceman Morgan Rielly in the first round of the NHL entry draft.
Burke was not kidding.
Leafs director of amateur scouting Dave Morrison figures Rielly can one day join Jake Gardiner as a leader on the Toronto blue line.
“Speed and skill,” Morrison said late Friday night. “Parts of his game translate to the way the game is now – the speed, skill, hockey sense. He is not a really physical kid, but he is working on that part of it. He has that ability to get the puck out of your end in a variety of ways and can quarterback the power play.”
Morrison turned his attention to Saturday morning, when the Leafs will pick 35th overall with the fifth pick in the second round.
“Our list was a lot tighter than I thought it was going to be,” Morrison said. “I’m finding we have crossed a lot of names off. We still have some guys we like there, but also that it is a very moveable pick if we decide we want to do there.
“I’m not sure what we are going to do just yet. Go back to hotel and huddle up and look and see what is left on the table.”

No Jacket fitting for Gustavsson

- June 22nd, 2012

PITTSBURGH– The Columbus Blue Jackets’ acquisition of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky on Friday morning means Jonas Gustavsson can cross one possible destination off his list.

On the eve of the 2012 NHL entry draft, there had been whispers here that the Blue Jackets were interested in Gustavsson, who appears to be headed for free agency on July 1. The Maple Leafs are ready to move past Gustavsson, who spent the past three seasons in a Toronto uniform, and go with James Reimer, Ben Scrivens and whoever they acquire this off-season in goal.

Gustavsson, despite his struggles as a Leaf, might not be out of a job for long once the free-agent period opens. The Detroit Red Wings could be interested in signing the 27-year-old Swede as a backup to Jimmy Howard.

Bobrovsky, who won 14 games in 29 appearances for the Flyers last season, cost the Blue Jackets three draft picks – a second-rounder  (45th overall) and a fourth-rounder (117th overall) this year and a fourth-round pick next year.

What the Bobrovsky trade does is likely take Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo out of the equation for the Blue Jackets. Whether that makes the road toTorontoa little smoother for Luongo in a trade remains to be seen.

With Bobrovsky off the market, however, the Leafs’ search for a veteran goalie narrows. Also no longer available are Tomas Vokoun, Josh Harding and Anders Lindback.

Kids say darndest things

- June 21st, 2012

Reporters covering the Maple Leafs often get coy or conflicting answers from the players, making it hard to get a read on them.
The team brass had its own challenges the past few weeks interviewing a number of potential junior first round candidates.
“(Amateur scouting director) Dave Morrison and his group were pretty focused on this after it became clear we’d get a very high pick,” said executive vice president Dave Nonis. “You can narrow it down if you’re picking (fifth overall), but in the top 20s it’s harder, you’re looking at such a wide spectrum.
“They did a good job, going out, bringing the boys in (to the Leafs’ training facility in Etobicoke) and in terms of their talent assessment, character assessment and speaking to the appropriate people. I think we put the appropriate time in.”
During the NHL scouting combine earlier this month, the Leafs chatted up the players and had them interviewed by team psychologists and examined doctors. It’s info the Leafs can use down the road, even if they don’t pick them.
“I visited them, did some physical testng and went to their training centre,” said Czech forward Radek Faksa, ranked in the middle of the first round. “It was very beautiful. All the guys were very nice to me.”
Faksa will have one regret if picked by the Leafs, that he won’t see the departed Tomas Kaberle. Faksa joined the OHL Kitchener Rangers a year too late to see the defencman before he was traded.
“I was sad last year that nobody Czech was playing in Toronto,” Faksa said. “Maybe I will go to Toronto where there are Czech people. But there are many nice people in Kitchener, many Czech people. They invite home me for dinner.”