I don’t think the much discussed (and increasingly tiresome) term “truculence” will be the big issue for the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs. I think the Penalty Kill (discussed earlier here) and waiver rules are likely to have a far bigger impact on this team than their new found ferocity.
Why waivers? Well, as much as I mocked the notion of significant competition in Leafs camp, the Leafs have enough 4th line talent that it's almost certain the club will expose several players to get down to a 23 man roster.
Burke may have "lost" talent to the waiver wire in the past, but it's one thing to find marginal players an NHL home (e.g. Mark Bell, Staffan Kronwall) and quite another when it's a Mitchell, Frogren or Tlusty that's lost for nothing - especially if that player is lost so an aging vet can get 4th line minutes. (Mayers, Primeau and Allison - I'm looking at you.)
Forwards: 13 Spots and 18 Players
With 13 spots up for grabs, who are the locks at forward to make the line-up?
1. Jason Blake
2. Niklas Hagman
3. Mikhail Grabovski
4. Lee Stempniak
5. Alexei Ponikarovsky
6. Matthew Stajan
7. Nikolai Kulemin
8. Colton Orr
If the Leafs are going to carry 13 forwards, four of the following nine won’t make the club:
9. Christian Hanson
10. Jiri Tlusty
11. Tyler Bozak
12. Wayne Primeau
13. Jamal Mayers
14. Viktor Stalberg
15. Rickard Wallin
16. John Mitchell
17. Jason Allison
Keep in mind that Hanson, Bozak and Stalberg can all be sent to the Marlies without having to clear waivers, giving Burke a bit of early season flexibility. Tlusty too, although he loses his waiver exemption status once he plays 8 more NHL games (good thing JFJ burned a year of his eligibility so he could play him nine minutes a night in 14 games).
I didn’t forget him, but Nazem Kadri isn’t making this club. Even a nine game look (10 pro games and he burns a year of his contract) means exposing another player on the team and I can’t see that happening so an 18 year old can have his cup of coffee.
Numbers Game on D
If the Leafs carry 13 forwards, they have room for eight d-men. Book Komisarek, Kaberle, Beauchemin, Finger and Schenn (in no particular order) as the top five.
Who’s kidding who, Gunnarsson and Oreskovic aren't making this team out of camp. That means one of Frogren, Exelby, White and Van Ryn will be traded or waived. My guess is Van Ryn will be traded (or injured), failing that, Frogren will hit the waiver wire/ be demoted to the Marlies.
Vesa and the Monster
If you think Burke spent the off-season travelling repeatedly to Sweden to woo a guy to play for the Marlies, raise your hand.
That’s what I figured.
Joey Mac will be seeing a lot of Ricoh Coliseum this season.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Waiver Status by Position
|Jiri Tlusty||Yes - 8 games remaining|
|Mike Van Ryn||No|