Report: Maple Leafs’ Burke Inquired About van Riemsdyk

Despite already having the youngest team in the National Hockey League, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke is looking to get younger.

According to Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun (via Tim Pinaccio of csnphilly.com), Burke contacted Philadelphia Flyers GM Paul Holmgren about the availability of forward James van Riemsdyk. The report says Holmgren was quick to tell Burke that van Riemsdyk is not available.

Burke has been rumored to be combing the entire league for a trading partner in an attempt to spark his team, especially offensively. With over $3 million in salary cap space to work with, Burke certainly has the ability and flexibility to make a big trade.

Van Riemsdyk, 21, has three goals and seven assists in 22 games this season, which would put him seventh on the Maple Leafs in points with ten. In 100-career NHL regular season games, van Riemsdyk has 18 goals and 27 assists. He also played in the 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 World Junior Championship tournaments for team USA, scoring a total of 21 points in a combined 12 games.

**Follow Buds In Blue on Twitter @BudsInBlue for frequent blog updates. You can also follow Lukas on Twitter @SportsHazeLukas for breaking hockey news and rumors, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs game updates. You can contact him at lukas.hardonk@gmail.com.

Advertisements

Burke Still Looking to Trade, Could Use Goalies as Bait

Despite the recent success the Toronto Maple Leafs have been experiencing (winning three of their last four and three straight at home), general manager Brian Burke is still looking to make a trade, according to TheFourthPeriod.com (via the Toronto Sun).

The report suggests Burke still wants to add an “offensive-minded” forward, be it a centre or a winger.

The speculation has led many to wonder what Burke might use as potential trade bait, naming Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin and, of course, Tomas Kaberle as options. However, with sophomore Jonas Gustavsson, the injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere and surprisingly impressive minor leaguer Jussi Rynnas all under contract, the goaltending position could be a focal point.

Gustavsson has been getting plenty of playing time during Giguere’s absence. In nine games this season, Gustavsson is 3-4-1 and has a save percentage of .922 to go along with a goals against average of 2.30. With a career record of 19-19-10, save percentage of .906 and goals against average of 2.77, Gustavsson could be in line for a much bigger role with the Maple Leafs.

Giguere, meanwhile, has also been impressive. The 35-year-old is 5-5-2, has a save percentage of .895 and has a goals against average of 2.78 in 12 games this season. Unfortunately, however, he earns $6 million this season and could be feeling the pressure from Rynnas, who has a GAA of 1.79 and a save percentage of .941 in 12 games with the Toronto Marlies this season.

The problem with trading Giguere is that he has a no-trade clause, meaning he gets to block any trade he is involved in. Any deal would be hard for the Maple Leafs to complete before Christmas, however, as Burke’s self-imposed holiday trade freeze goes into effect on December 9th.

**Follow Buds In Blue on Twitter @BudsInBlue for frequent blog updates. You can also follow Lukas on Twitter @SportsHazeLukas for breaking hockey news and rumors, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs game updates. You can contact him at lukas.hardonk@gmail.com.

Richards to Maple Leafs Becoming More Likely Each Day; Ribeiro Also a Possibility

For months now, people have been talking about a potential trade between the Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs that would see Stars’ centre Brad Richards become a Maple Leaf, possibly in return for Tomas Kaberle.

However, Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has yet to speak publicly about a trade involving the two teams, and has not yet been spotted at a Stars game, not that it really matters anyways.

But even though Burke hasn’t been speaking of a trade, does that mean it won’t happen? Of course not. As everyone knows, Burke is the kind of general manager who likes to keep his mouth shut, and give very little information involving transactions.

With that being said, the chances of Richards becoming a Maple Leaf could be increasing each day, given the way he has been playing, his contract situation, and the Stars’ ownership/revenue situation.

Richards, 30, is off to a blazing start this season. In 18 games, the former Tampa Bay Lightning forward has nine goals and 15 assists, a total of 24 points, to go along with a plus-10 rating. He is earning $7.8 million in this, the final year of his contract with the Stars.

Also well-documented has been the Stars’ current ownership situation, which will make it extremely hard for general manager Joe Nieuwendyk to re-sign Richards. Stars owner Tom Hicks has reportedly set an internal budget that is well below the league mandated $59.4 million salary cap, meaning it will be next to impossible since Richards will likely want about $8 million per season.

That’s not to say the Maple Leafs will want to pay him that much, although their salary cap room next season may allow them to.

Richards would be a nice addition to a team that does not currently have a top-six centre.

The addition of Richards could also mean good things for the development of Nazem Kadri, who, with three assists in four games, appears to be becoming more of a play maker than a goal scorer, although his career is only five games old.

Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun reported on Saturday not only that the Maple Leafs are interested in Richards, but Mike Ribeiro as well.

Ribeiro, a three-time 20+ goal scorer, is currently the Stars’ second line centre. He is earning $5 million per season, but still has two more years left on his contract following this season. With that and the fact that the Stars would get a greater return for Richards in mind, Nieuwendyk would likely rather trade Richards over Ribeiro.

However, Garroich said the New York Rangers are also interested in both Richards and Ribeiro. Both have a no-trade clause, meaning they can block any trade they’re involved in. Unfortunately, for the Maple Leafs, that could be a problem, as the Rangers have four more wins in two more games this season.

**Follow Buds In Blue on Twitter @BudsInBlue for frequent blog updates. You can also follow Lukas on Twitter @SportsHazeLukas for breaking hockey news and rumors, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs game updates. You can contact him at lukas.hardonk@gmail.com.

They Did it Again: Maple Leafs Loose to Canucks; Moves Coming?

Another day, another loss.

The Toronto Maple Leafs dropped their eighth straight game on Saturday night, losing 5-3 to the Vancouver Canucks. The game was defenceman Keith Aulie’s first of his career, and the second of Nazem Kadri’s after the two were called up from the Toronto Marlies to give the team a spark.

The move seemed to work at first, as the Maple Leafs quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals from Fredrick Sjostrom and Phil Kessel. They held that lead for two minutes before Daniel Sedin scored on the power play and Ryan Kesler followed up with his eighth of the season.

Each team scored a goal in the second frame, as Kesler netted his second and Mikhail Grabovski picked up his third of the season with a beauty over the shoulder of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.

Mason Raymond’s fourth of the season came 13:36 into the third, giving the Canucks a 4-3 lead on shot in which Maple Leafs goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere should have been able to save. Dan Hamhuis iced the victory with an empty netter from the opposite end of the ice.

Kadri and Aulie both looking impressive, more so the latter. Kadri, as expected, made some mistakes passing the puck, but never looked bad enough to send him back to the American Hockey League after the game.

Aulie, meanwhile, looked very strong against the Canucks’ attackers, including the Sedin twins. He also proved why so many believe he is one of the best skating defensive prospects in hockey.

However, even with the additions of Kadri and Aulie, the Maple Leafs were not able to pull off a victory, although the game was relatively even.

So, with that and the Maple Leafs’ eight game losing streak being put into consideration, is it time to make a trade?

No.

Last season, the Maple Leafs lost to the Canucks on January 30th. The morning after, general manager Brian Burke traded Vesa Toskala, Jamal Mayers, Ian White, Jason Blake, Niklas Hagman and Matt Stajan, and acquired Dion Phaneuf, Jean-Sebastien Giguere and others.

From that day, January 31st, 2010, on, the Maple Leafs were the seventh best team in the Eastern Conference.

Nevertheless, the Maple Leafs cannot begin making trades out of desperation. Grabovski and Kessel looked very impressive tonight, each scoring a goal, while Grabovski also had an assists and an even plus/minus rating.

Kadri, who also had an even plus/minus rating, will also build on what was a good first game with Nikolai Kulemin and Tyler Bozak. The three should be able to gain more confidence and chemistry skating together over the next week or so.

With the exception of the fourth goal, Giguere had a good game, making 27 saves. In 11 games this season, Giguere owns a goals against average of 2.62 and a save percentage of .899. Sophomore Jonas Gustavsson has been having another inconsistent but good season, meaning the Maple Leafs are set in goal.

With that being said, all the Maple Leafs need to do is build on a good game against a team that is one of, if not the hottest in the NHL right now.

Notes and stats:

Shots on goal were dead even at 32…announced attendance was 19,534…Kesler, Luongo, Grabovski named three stars…Kesler, Raymond, Edler, Samuelsson, D Sedin, H Sedin, Beauchemin, Grabovski all had two point nights…Giguere made 27 saves, Luong made 29 saves.

The Maple Leafs’ next game is on Tuesday when the host the Nashville Predators.

**Follow Buds In Blue on Twitter @BudsInBlue for frequent blog updates. You can also follow Lukas on Twitter @SportsHazeLukas for breaking hockey news and rumors, as well as Toronto Maple Leafs game updates. You can contact him at lukas@gacksports.com.

Toronto Maple Leafs Cut Roster By 17 Players

Wayne Primeau was one of 17 players cut by the Maple Leafs on Sunday

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one step closer to having decided their opening day roster, according to James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail.

Following the team’s fifth pre-season game on Saturday, a 3-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Leafs announced the latest list of roster cuts. The following players will not be playing for the Maple Leafs when the season opens on October 7th:

Jussi Rynnas – AHL

Wayne Primeau – released

Ben Scrivens – AHL

Keith Aulie – AHL

Jesse Blacker – junior

Brad Ross – junior

Andrew Crescenzi – junior

Mike Brennan – AHL

Simon Gysbers – AHL

Korbinian Holzer – AHL

Juraj Mikus – AHL

Jerry D’Amigo – AHL

Brayden Irwin – AHL

Marcel Mueller – AHL

Robert Slaney – AHL

Greg Scott – AHL

The Maple Leafs now have three goalies, 17 forwards and 10 defencemen remaining.

Follow Lukas on Twitter @lukas_nhl.

lukas@gacksports.com

Fight Breaks Out At Maple Leafs Training Camp

Toronto Maple Leafs

Things are already heating up at the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp.

After watching teammate Carl Gunnarson get hit from behind by tough guy Jay Rosehill on Saturday, Michael Liambas decided it was time to take matters into his own hands, by dropping the gloves with Rosehill. According to the Canadian Press, the fight lasted about 15 seconds while teammates gathered around to watch the spirited tilt.

“Nobody got hurt and it showed that we’re pretty intense in practice,” coach Ron Wilson said. “For some guys they have to do it in a scrimmage because they’re not going to get into exhibition games.”

This coming after Wilson told his players not to fight at training camp.

After being invited by the Maple Leafs to the team’s rookie tournament last week, Liambas was a late addition to the team’s training camp. According to Wilson, “he’s a very long shot.”

“He’s done everything we’ve asked him, he pays attention, he works in practice and he’s been physical without going over the top,” Wilson added.

If Liambas doesn’t make the Maple Leafs, there is still a possibility that he could play for the team’s American Hockey League affiliate, also located in Toronto.

“There’s some options, yeah,” said Liambis. “We’ll see what happens. I’m not trying to think about any of that stuff right now. I’m here, I’m in the moment and I’m going to do as best as I can.”

The 21-year-old Liambas was suspended by the Ontario Hockey League for the remainder of the 2009-2010 season last October, after leaving Kitchener Rangers defenceman Ben Fanelli lying on the ice with a fractured skull.

Liambas played in 124 regular season games in the OHL before his junior career ended. In those 124 games, he scored just five goals and eight assists, while tallying 357 penalty minutes. He was never drafted by an NHL team.

**You can contact Lukas by e-mail at lukas@gacksports.com and follow him on Twitter @lukas_nhl.

Wayne Primeau Wants Back on the Leafs: Does He Fit In?

Wayne Primeau

35-year-old National Hockey League veteran Wayne Primeau wants to return to the National Hockey League for the 2010-2011 season, which would be his 16th in the League, according to TheFourthPeriod.com (via Toronto Sun).

“I still feel I can play and contribute to a team,” Primeau told the Sun. “Hopefully someone steps forward and gives me a chance.”

“My ultimate wish is to come back to Toronto for another season and be a veteran (presence) to help the younger guys. But it seems to be looking dimmer and dimmer as the days go on.”

With the Maple Leafs becoming a younger team each year and very unlikely to win the Stanley Cup this season, is it really fitting for a 15-year veteran of the League who has never won a Stanley Cup to return to Toronto?

No. The Maple Leafs have too many bottom-six forwards (which Primeau is) for him to fit in on the roster. If he was to play on the wing, he still wouldn’t fit in with the bottom six. Colby Armstrong, Luca Caputi, Colton Orr, Mike Brown and Fredrick Sjostrom all have more important roles with the Maple Leafs, and all add just as much grit, if not more.

At age 35, if Primeau were to return to the Maple Leafs, he would be the oldest player on the roster (current oldest player is Jean-Sebastien Giguere at age 33) and the oldest forward on the roster by seven years.

Not just that, but the signing of Primeau would also take away crucial cap space from general manager Brian Burke, who is currently trying to use that cap space, and possibly Tomas Kaberle, to fill the forward hole in the Maple Leafs lineup.

With that being said, not only would returning to Toronto be a poor career decision by Primeau, but it would also be a poor decision by Maple Leafs manager Brian Burke, who already has enough veterans on the roster.

Primeau has scored just 194 points (69 goals, 125 assists) in 774-career regular-season games. Three of those goals and five of those assists came in 54 games with the Maple Leafs in 2009-2010. He was acquired from the Calgary Flames in July of 2009 along with a 2011 second round draft pick for Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart and a 2012 seventh round draft pick.

**Lukas can be contacted by e-mail at lukas@gacksports.com. Follow Lukas on Twitter @lukas_nhl for breaking sports scores, news and rumors.