Leafs Dominate Flyers before Heading Out West

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent INovember 30, 2008

With the arrival of Burke formally announced prior to the sound pummeling of the Flyers on Saturday, the Leafs are now safely en route to the West, except one lone forgotten recruit deserving of a brief mention: Mark Bell.

Meeting immediately with the Kings and then the Sharks, there will be plenty of opportunity for belligerent play, especially against the Coyotes, and perhaps upon their return to home ice will be a new team.

Already atop bruiser Deveaux, Jaime Sifers has been recalled—perhaps to showcase his talents—and he is yet another American to make it.  Alas, Mayers has to play well out West to survive the cull. Though tough, he really has not displayed any offensive prowess lately.

But the Canadian who is really going to have to show his stuff—big time—is Moore. It is pretty apparent he is playing with heart and passion, but the cards may be simply stacked against him.  Ask Bell.

The game against the Flyers was a pretty good display of all-round teamwork.  At one point I was ready to trade Kubina, and you all know when, but then he redeemed himself with a decent goal from the blue line. This was likely increasing his value on the market with that booming, though oft-used, slapper.

Mitchell continues to impress me with some speed and smart contributions on the ice, but is also good in front of the mic. This may be an indication of his usefulness, and Burke needs players who are truly useful, he says, thus bringing us to Stempniak.

I have no complaints yet, but was hoping to see some flair. After all, he's a revered graduate of the vaunted US college hockey system.

However, speaking of Americans, Blake's days are numbered as a Leaf.  He is not a Top Six forward, and he is not a role player, a plugger, as they say. This is how Burke is going to look at the structure of our new team moving forward.  (All this talk of toughness being critical, by the way, reminds me of John Brophy.)

Hagman is a keeper, as well as Grabovski, who certainly has the scars on his face to prove he is willing to stick his nose into the corners and battle.

So, again, Antropov is dangled, but Poni is gone first.  The question remains: Who does the team get back in exchange for our so-called twin towers?  More toughness...a la Hollweg?  Other keepers today include Stajan and Kulemin.  The latter really needs to start shooting more, simply utilizing the snapshot, patented by No. 17.

My guess is that Sundin is ending up a Ranger pretty soon, and I am wondering if perhaps a few more of our current Top Six players will be joining him.  On other teams that might need a boost from one or two of our "aging veterans," we might be interested in Ryan Malone, Jeff Carter (still), Derek Roy, or Ray Whitney off the top of my head.  I'd like to see Pominville in a Leafs jersey one day, or even Marc Savard.

I heard an interesting argument from an agent who stated the tables are turned on teams like the Leafs who can no longer, supposedly, provide sponsorship or endorsement as additional lucrative income options to incoming superstars, such as Crosby, due to the fact that the Internet can exploit their fame globally instantly.

I think a few losing seasons in Pittsburgh will change that tune soon enough.

The Leafs will beat the Kings 6-3, and I predict a hat-trick.  Burke needs to bring back Bell, and too bad about the so-called tiff with Coach Wilson.  He has done his time.  He is tough.  After all, he is from St. Mary's.  Cement is also from St. Mary's.