Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.

7/26/2007

Favs, unknowns, and the like

In the spirit of David Johnson's recent list, I've put together one of my own for a little summer time fun.

Anaheim - Getzlaf, Perry and/or Penner. Take your pick, they’ll be around for a long time. Moen was a surprise on the checking line with Rob Niedermayer and Pahlsson. George Parros gets a mention for hailing from my NJ high school alma mater.

Atlanta - Pascal Dupuis – The guy impressed a couple years back during Minnesota’s long playoff run (the year before Gaborik started getting hurt) with a great shot and an eye for the net. Eventually he should be able to regain that form. Zhitnik gets honorable mention because he is Zubov-silky on his skates.

Boston - Bergeron obviously. When you are 18 and still surprise the hell out of everyone in the league, something tells me you’ve got intangibles. Second choice is Marc Savard. After suffering through offensive purgatory with the Flames, he finally got a breathe of fresh air in Atlanta, only for no one to give him any credit. Oops.

Buffalo - Everyone’s favorite team to dissect last year, and a divisional rival, its tough to find a favorite or an unknown. So I’ll go with Michael Ryan. He should break 50 pts this year. Timmy Connolly is my favorite. A thinking man’s player.

Calgary - Mark Giordano for the sole reason he scored two against his hometown Leafs last season. I’d never heard of him before that night, and I’ll never forget him now.

Carolina - Erik Cole is an unbelievable hockey player. He’d get more credit if he was a canuck.

Chicago - Brent Seabrook. Two years ago Seabrook came out of nowhere with a crazy +/- on a crap team. For a rookie, that is reason to pay attention. Duncan Keith gets honorable mention as well. Enigma Radim Vrbata also deserves a mention, as he seems to have found a home, if only he could be consistent.

Colorado - Wojtek Wolski – one of the best hockey names around. Overshadowed by GWG Svatos and Calder candidate Stastny, but I prefer his game overall.

Columbus – David Vyborny – the guy is a maestro at times. Great to watch.

DallasLoui Eriksson – Ever since I heard about him disrespecting Mike Modano, I took a liking to him. If a rookie is that confident, I can’t wait to see what he can do with line 1 minutes. The other Lundqvist gets honorable mention for helping create one of the best goalies in the world.

Detroit – Hank Zetterberg – Top 5 forward in the league. I wish I got to watch him more often. Hopefully a chronic injury won’t impact his play too much. Tomas Kopecky gets a nod for being an effective big man on a team I presumed lacked size.

Edmonton – Joni Pitkanen is the real BIG D signing by the Oil. Another out of nowhere surprise from a few seasons ago, this guy is only going to get better. Potential is just astronomical.

Florida - Olli Weiss and Horton get more ink, but Rostislav Olesz is one slick player. Born in Oct 1985, he is still developing and should break out with a solid year, if this franchise keeps it together.

Los AngelesKopitar. All it took was seeing him dismantle Neidermayer and Pronger for goals during the opening week last season. Dustin Brown’s game is like a bull in a china shop. Very effective if he can stay out of the box a bit more.

Minnesota – I exposed my affinity for Kurtis Foster earlier this summer. Nolan Schaefer is a curiousity at this point, because he was schooled by one of the best goalie coaches in the game in San Jose.

MontrealLatendresse could be what Lindros never became. That is saying quite a bit, but the power moves this guy has at his age are incredible. Once he learns to utilize his size in more situations, watch out.

Nashville – Jim Balsillie. I keed. Letting Steve Sullivan go on waivers still hurts. If Radulov gets a full season worth of line 3 ice time, by the end of the season he’ll be line 2. I believe its called a knack for scoring.

New Jersey – Travis Zajac. I saw some of the sweetest passes I’ve ever seen from this guy last year. One-touch redirects through his legs right on the tape. Just sick. If Lou fosters the chemistry with Parise, which I think he will, these two might just keep the Devils' post season streak going.

NY Islanders – Trent Hunter and Chris Campoli. Both are young and unfortunately stuck on the Islanders.

NY Rangers – Michal Roszival is a hidden gem. Though I don’t know how he is still unnoticed after his post season last year. Girardi is another name to learn. His awareness and deft passing on transitions was impressive. Ryan Callahan will also surprise with his offensive contributions in a limited role.

Ottawa – Mike Fisher has been a favorite for a while. I like his speed, tenacity and smarts.

Philadelphia – Mike Richards. Less glamorous of a player than Jeff Carter, but his hard-nosed approach more than makes up for it. Should rebound nicely this season.

Phoenix – Keith Ballard. Speed, smarts, fighting majors, puck carrying, big shot. You name it, he’s got it.

Pittsburgh – Ryan Malone. Home town pressure seems to weigh on him, but has great potential. Jordan Staal was my pick for Calder, mostly because his shot is deadly. Go check his shooting percentage. Scary good.

San JoseBernier, Clowe, Michalek, Pavelski, Rissmiller, Goc, Carle, Pickles….This team is ridiculously stacked.

St. Louis – Erik Johnson. Can’t wait to see what this kid can do against the big boys.

Tampa – Dan Boyle. A key cog in the super power play. Logs huge minutes. Always seems to be around the puck. Can score on the rush. He finally was recognized this past year as a Norris candidate. Nick Tarnasky is a favorite because I’d like to see him skate with Poni and Antro.

Toronto – Kyle Wellwood He can confound entire teams with his wizardy. Could become an Adam Oates if given a sniper to dish to. Matt Stajan is a close second. He is so close to putting his skills together to become a very good line 2 player. When he winds up with the puck on the break out, it is a sight to behold.

VancouverLuongo. Watched him play unbelievable hockey for years in Florida and no one noticed. He finally gets his due now that he plays in a market that cares. Very Brodeur-esque, in the way he leads from his crease.

Washington – Wake me up when there is anyone other than the Alexs.

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10 Comments:

  • At 5:33 PM, Anonymous Adena said…

    THE CHARITY HOCKEY TOURNAMENT THAT LETS YOUR TEAM PLAY WITH THE PROS AND GO HOME WITH A DEFIBRILLATOR!

    Hockey4Life is offering you the chance to play in a fantasy hockey tournament with proceeds going towards saving lives, right here in our community. When you register to play in the hockey tournament, you will receive a $150 hockey sweater, tickets to an amazing house party/concert, three games in the tournament including the third game with 2 professional hockey legends on your team. There are also playoffs and the celebrity hockey game that you can play in.

    Proceeds from Hockey4Life events go to The Mikey Network (registered charity) to place life-saving defibrillators and the related training into our hockey arenas. Your team can donate the defibrillator to your local rink or keep it for you team. Naturally, EMS will train up to 8 members of your team on how to use the defibrillator.

    For more information, or to register for the tournament please contact Adena at (905) 763-1200 or adena@integratedmar.com. You can also access more information on our website www.hockey4life.org or http://www.integratedmar.com/h4l/nl/071907/gen/index.html.

     
  • At 11:09 PM, Blogger The Dark Ranger said…

    Hey Raking Leafs,...great analysis of my NY Ranger Blueshirts -- I, too, believe our defensive situation is better than what most critics are saying -- both Callahan and Girardi will be loyal MSG favorites this season. They hugely stepped up our play during the last quarter of the season and the subsequent playoffs.

    I believe these young Rangers were responsible for our success last season. And dare I say, Sean Avery? Hah....cannot wait for the next Tucker/Avery matchup.

    Until then,

    The Dark Ranger
    www.thedarkranger.com

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seems like everyone is talking about the need for defibrillators in sports related venues. It’s nice to see you guys are actually doing something about it. I sure hope all those other guys who keep talking about it get their act together and enter a team. Otherwise, they’ll sure feel terrible when one of their buddies die on the ice beside them. Been there. Done that. Wish I could go back and put a defibrillators beside me on the bench that black night.

     
  • At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Pretty much the last time I'll visit this blog after reading you laud Stajan so unashamedly. Stajan is always ready on the break because he can't be bothered to do much of anything in his defensive zone other than stand around the tops of the face off circles. What makes you think he is "so close" to becoming a 2nd line player? He is maddeningly inconsistent from one night to the next, he has next to no scoring talent, and the nice wheels he has are only on display for 1-2 shifts a game. Moreover, rumour has it that the Leafs' brass is trying to move him to make room for Peca, a move I whole-heartedly agree with. I'm all for youth; Wellwood and Steen along with Tlusty, Williams, Earl and Klumenin are the future forwards of this team, but it's time to cut Stajan loose. We can disagree on whether or not a player is quality or incompetant, but I beg you not to praise Stajan as a "fav" or sleeper type.

     
  • At 1:18 PM, Blogger MrFrisby said…

    It's nice to see Zajac get some props. I'm looking forward to seeing how he does in his sophmore year. The problem is Parise is still a RFA. Rumors are that they are close to a 4 or 5 year deal, but "close" is not good enough for me.

    I also look forward to seeing Radulov. Hopefully he keeps his head on straight (as in, doesn't get any more suspensions).

     
  • At 10:16 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    Adena, this is a great cause you are championing. My mother is a school nurse and she is a strong proponent of mass distribution of defibs. I won't be participating, but I'll gladly plug your cause.

    Dark Ranger, most of the credit for the knowledge of the Rangers is due a buddy of mine. Hopefully we'll be teaming up in the near future to do a joint Leafs & Rangers blog. If not, I can always post his insights here. Avery was the best trade deadline acquisition league wide last year. He injected a completely different attitude, as evidenced by his monster game against the Leafs, and the first round playoff victory over Atlanta. But, the real hero of the Rangers is Hank Lundqvist. Rejoice in the name of Hank.

    Mr.Frisby, you're partly responsible for Zajac's kudos. It's going to be an uphill struggle all season for the Devils, but he should continue to improve. Lucky Lou was the first to tap the US college system, and Zajac is just another example of that.

    Anon, I'm glad you asked. In part, my vocal support for Stajan is in response to the calls for trading him away to squeeze a veteran coming of major surgery into the line up.

    He has the physical tools to be an effective NHLer, something that can't be said for alot of the Leafs' youth. And according to one of PPP's friends who saw him at Loblaws, Stajan has bulked up over the summer, which should add to his effective physical prescence, especially along the boards where his play making for others is most evident. I'd like a bit more grit in his game, but perhaps that will come with time.

    I admit his scoring touch leaves something to be desired, but he does drive the net and get quality shots from hig percentage scoring areas. Basically, he makes it tough on the other team.

    Remember Stajan was an early graduate to the bigs, the first rookie forward to grab a roster spot under Quinn, and has remained in the checking role for the most part. I don't share your opinion of his defensive skills, and his offensive development has been somewhat stunted. But giving up on him now that he's been given a chance to show his complete game would be premature. Perhaps after the next season or two a more complete evaluation can be made, but right now he is a decent and affordable asset, which is something that I highly value.

     
  • At 11:59 AM, Blogger The Dark Ranger said…

    The King! King Henrik! Amen. If ever you want to joint Leafs-Rangers, you let me know if you need a Blueshirt's take.

    www.thedarkranger.com

    Great blogging....

    TDR

     
  • At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Adena said…

    Hi Ninja,

    I have checked out your blogs.. how can you plug this cause?? Its too bad you cant take part!

     
  • At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Stebe said…

    Outstanding post. I love it, but please don't tell anyone else about Girardi. Shhhhhhhh.

     
  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Ropinator said…

    I would add Kozig to Washington.wq

     

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