Leafs Fall Preview...

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Toronto_AGM_Adil, Nov 9, 2006.

  1. Toronto_AGM_Adil

    Toronto_AGM_Adil Registered User

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    Toronto (AP) There's nothing sweeter then victory, however it must be said that the hope of victory comes in at a distant second. It's with that hope and a drastically changed team, that HFNHL leaf fans approach this up-comming season. Last year saw the loss of the veteran-core of the leafs offense, including the top-line of Sundrom-Robitaille-Miller (who went for a combined 95 points for Toronto) along with depth players such as Aubin and Lapoint. These losses were offset by a fleury of trade and free agent aquisitions. After the storm only a handful of 05/06 leafs are returning this year to the ACC.

    Top 6:

    Most likely joining UFA signee Sundin on the top line will be the only two 05/06 leafs from the previous seasons top 6. Gionta is comming from an NHL New Jersey Devils record breaking 48 goal season, a feat which left him 6th in the NHL in scoring (ahead of Simon Gagne, Eric Staal and Daniel Alfredsson). Many questioned Comrie's ability to bounce back from the Edmonton fiasco, however, it looks like the air in Phoenix has done him some good. In the 05/06 season Comrie had a 30 goal 60 point season and by the looks of it, will be either matching or beating that total in 06/07. Both Gionta and Comrie are fast and agile skaters who, along with Sundin, will make a fast high scoring top line.

    Following up on the second line will most likely be the gritty/defensive combination of Holik/Handzus/Guerin. All three are intense physical presences on the ice, with a combined 365 PIM in 05/06. Handzus and Holik are both solid defensive presences on the ice, while Guerin is expected to provide the scoring touch. Aquired through free agency, many questioned the $4M long term contract commitment made to aquire Guerin, however with 11 points in his first 13 NHL games (7 of those points goals), Gurein has shown his long term viability.

    Behind the blue line:

    Last year saw the aquisition of veteran defencemen Nathan Dempsey and Bryan Muir, both of whom will suppliment the pre-existing defensive core of Kaberle and Kuba. Before free-agency it looked like defence would be the leafs strength, however an active free-agency has left the defense lacking compared to a now heavily stacked offense. Look for marquee defenceman Frantisek Kaberle to log some serious minutes behind the blue line until a second top-line defenceman can be brought in for support.

    In the crease:

    Vokoun is hoped to pick up where the defense is lacking. The veteran goal tender had his best season yet in the NHL with Nashville, finishing off the 05/06 with a win-loss record of 36-18, a GAA of 2.67 and SV% of .919. If the leafs can get him some support behind the blue line, expect Vokoun to have a serious shot at the HFNHL Vezina trophy.

    On the rise...

    Chris Kunitz - Leading Anahiem in goals (7) and power play goals (5), he has continued the pace he left off during last years Anahiem play-off run. If Kunitz can stay on the top line with Selanne and if he can continue to lead on the PP, he has the potential to reach the 60 point mark this year. Barely clearing wavers last year, Kunitz has made a serious 180 turn, and looks to be a top-6 scoring forward in the making.

    Alexei Ponikarovsky - 5th in ATOI for forwards on the leafs squad this year, Ponikarovsky has already hit 12 points in 17 games as he has been shufled between 1st and 2nd line. With the increased play time, Poni has the potential to hit the 50 point mark by the end of the year. Critized in the past for not utilizing his 6'4" 220lbs frame, he has really stepped up his physical play averaging 2hits/gp and a PIM/gp as well as a +5 plus-minus rating. Ponikarovsky is looking more and more to be the power forward that the leafs desperatly need.

    Filip Kuba - Leading the Tampa defence in the categories of: goals (2), plus-minus rating (+6), and tied for 1st in points with Boyle (8). Kuba is 2nd in short hand TOI per game as well as clocking in 3 minutes on the PP.

    Lasse Kukkonen - Leading Chicago's defensive core with a +3, Kukkonen and Seabrook are the only two Hawk defencemen to stay above the 0 +/- mark. Kukkonen is proving to be an alround defenceman for chicago, 2nd on the team in block shots, (22), last in giveaways and takeaways by chicago defencemen (excluding richmond who has only played 3 games), as well as tied for first in points for Chicago defencemen. Look for Kukkonen to be given a larger role in Chicago, as the team tries to dig themselves out of a loosing streak.
     
  2. Great job!
    This is likely going to be the first time since approximately the 2000/01 season that Toronto could give opponents a good game.
     
  3. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    Maybe even since the early days of Joe Vales. Good luck to the Leafs!

    (P.S. - can I have Gionta back now? He was, um, ah, a loan, yeah - that's it!)
     
  4. Toronto_AGM_Adil

    Toronto_AGM_Adil Registered User

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    Thanks for the vote of confidence!

    You know the nice thing about finishing last place in you're conferance is that you've got no where left to go but up :thumbu:

    (P.S. we'd send Gionta back to you Ohio but his imaginary digital family has settled in so nicely in toronto...)
     
  5. Fan.At

    Fan.At Registered User Sponsor

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    Great report, Adil.

    Douglas, what did you get from Toronto for Gionta? :dunce:
     
  6. Ohio Jones

    Ohio Jones Game on...

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    No idea any more - I'd have to go back through the history. It gets worse - I had Briere at one point too, but at the time I just didn't believe in the ability of the flyweights to make a career for themselves. :cry: :banghead:
     

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