Tag Archives: lee stempniak

Time For A Change In The Morning

I am going to go out on a limb here folks. It is time Nelson Millman to make a change to his morning show over at the Fan 590. I don’t want to call for someone to lose (not loose) their job, but the morning show is just stale. Why do I bring this up today, well, Don Landry was out ill today and Damien filled in for Landry. It was the best morning show they have had in ages. Let me be clear, I don’t know Don Landry from Adam. To quote Pat Burns, “I wouldn’t know him if I hit him with my car.” I don’t dislike him personally, nor the work he does. However, if ever there was a guy suited for a mid day slot it would be him. He can be funny, he likes to do more shtick then substance and I am sure he has a ton of loyal followers. He just isn’t a sports guy. This is a time slot the Fan has all to their own and to be honest most mornings I punt to 550 or god forbid music. If I am not getting sports at 590, there is no reason to listen. Nelson needs to find a replacement for Landry during that show and move Landry to an hour where his talents will be more appreciated. I can’t see the ratings for this show getting any better then they are right now. The show has peaked and I predict will decline until a change is made.

Damien was fantastic this am with Gord. They have amazing chemistry and man, they spent time actually talking about what their sports guests earlier in the am had to say. Damien was saying how he thought wht Burke was doing with Pogge was the right move, that it was part of a plan. He said he disagreed with Scotty’s take from earlier in the am which was great in that I didn’t get to hear all of it. There was a lot less hijinx then there usually is and a bigger focus on sports. Again, for some reason I think Damien’s column has suffered greatly as a result of the other things he does. He is better in his blog and is better then that on the radio. Watching him faceoff against Simmons on Sunday’s is pretty interesting too. In his column he rarely says why leaf fans should be happy that Cliff is gone. It sounds like a personal vendetta, and more so every time he says it isn’t. This morning he actually put some meat on the bones saying that if Cliff were still in charge we would have seen more deals like the one Cliff made for Lee Stempniak, trading away 2 guys who at the very least should have been given a shot with the Marlies to work our their careers. Damien guaranteed that Cliff was going to do everything in his power to get the team to the playoffs this season and deals like that were evidence of such. Now, I have no clue whether that is true or not. Damien also wrote that Doug Gilmour was paying for his players to be at the ACC this Saturday and we have since learned otherwise. At least it makes for interesting radio. It is certainly better then another bit of Ken Dryden in the house of commons! Good on Damien for mixing it up a bit, making it interesting etc.

I would like to see the Fan 590 think outside the box a bit more. In many major cities I have lived in the morning show and the drive home show feature a radio guy and a print guy as permanent hosts. The radio guy is always there (except for vacations) and the print guy is sometimes a little late, sometimes on the road or sometimes absent. They have good chemistry and create a good product. Now Brunt is a part timer on the Fan, not full time with McCown. While I love Brunt’s work, I think he comes across as being to cerebral for radio in this town. He is certainly better then some of the other guys though. I would love for the Fan to find a way to get Damien or someone like him in there with Stellick. Maclean would be a better fit to be honest. One of the problems I think is that we don’t have a huge bullpen of talent (at least known) in this market. It’s not like there are 5-10 guys on other shows who you say, man they would be awesome on the Fan. With the exception of Brady on 640 (and I think he would be terrific with Stellick, but can’t see that happening anytime soon), I really can’t think of anyone. Now Brady came from Detroit and there are probably a lot of folks in the industry looking for work in other markets. I think Nelson really should make a change, move Landry to the mid-day and bring in someone else to work with Stellick. This morning was a tease.


Toronto Sports Radio Tonight

No word from the folks at the fan tonight

On 640, besides all the rock talk:

Lee Stempniak 510
Rob Higgins 540
Scott Morrison 610

The Value Of Cap Space, The Cost of Trading It

As promised, the first of several stories appeared today about the value of cap space as we edge towards 2010-2011. Damien Cox wrote about it in today’s Star. Instead of moving through his album, we can move right to the end to begin:

“The Leafs, you see, could stand to take on a veteran player with an oversized contract if the other team was willing to throw in a second- or third-round pick in the deal. In effect, then, the Leafs trade their cap room for a future draft pick. Everybody wins.That’s the ammunition Burke has, and he plans to use it. The trick, however, will be doing so in such a way as to not improve the club with veterans to such a degree that a top-five draft pick next June disappears in the process.”

What a strange situation indeed. The suggestion is that the Leafs should take veteran players from another team on 2 conditions, one that the veteran player comes with a draft pick(s) and secondly that the player has to suck; or suck enough as to not improve the team. So this poses a few questions. First, whom are the leafs trading in exchange for the pick(s) and bad (enough) player? Assume for a second that the Leafs aren’t going to trade Luke Schenn. Who will these other teams be willing to take back? Before you say Jason Blake, in a we take your “crap” you take our “crap” deal, remember that the teams Cox wants to trade with want to save money, not take it on. So, who can Burke trade, because when you take on a veteran and a draft pick(s), you usually send picks or future considerations the other way. This time the Leafs can’t send picks the other way, that doesn’t accomplish what Cox is suggesting. So, with the help from the stats over at nhlnumbers.com, here is a look at who Burke can dangle and their cap hit:

Lee Stempniak cap hit of 1.882 contract ends after 09-10 season
Alexei Ponikarovsky cap hit of 2.105 contract ends after 09-10 season
Nik Antropov, cap hit of 2.050 contract ends after this season. If the Leafs do this they better get a lot back for trading an expiring contract
Jamal Mayers, cap hit of 1.333 contract ends after the 09-10 season
Dominic Moore, cap hit of .900 contract ends after this season. See Antropov
Niklas Hagman, cap hit of 3.000 contract ends after 2011-2012 and NTC this year will make it hard to move him this year
Ryan Hollweg, cap hit of .485 contract ends after this season. See Antropov (except don’t expect a lot back)
Pavel Kubina, cap hit of 5.00 contract ends after 09-10 will make it hard to move him for these reasons
Tomas Kaberle, cap hit of 4.250 contract expires after 10-11 but has a ntc
jeff Finger, cap hit of 3.50 contract ends in 11-12 not likely
Mike Van Ryn cap hit of 2.900 contract ends 09-10
Jonas Frogren cap hit of 1.065 contract ends 09-10
Vesa Toskala cap hit of 4.000 contact ends after 09/10

I left all players under 25 out as their salaries are fairly low and their age making their trade probability fairly low. The Leafs also have Mark Bell with the Marlies to move. The harder thing is how do you trade for high priced talent that isn’t going to improve your team? That just isn’t going to be easy to do. Also when you take these bad guys back how long a contract are you willing to take back? I wouldn’t want a contract back that goes beyond 2010-2011.

I don’t doubt for one second that Burke would like to use his cap space to his advantage. Doing it in a smart effective way is not going to be easy. Also, would the media give Burke a pass for trading for “crap”??? Believe it when I see it.

Cox’s article can be found here

The Cupboard Might Not Be Completely Bare

by LT
We heard the saying on numerous occasions last year and through the off season that the Maple Leafs cupboard is bare…meaning, no young talent on the team or in the system to draw on for future success…a bleak outlook to say the least.
I’m not suggesting that it’s time to add some veteran talent as last pieces of the puzzle to win the cup – of course not. But there are some encouraging signs at the quarter pole.  We do have some vs. no young talent.
See below, TSN’s Rookie Power Ranking as of November 25th….We have 3-players in the top 20.  Do we have a franchise player on the list, no.  But this picture certainly looks better than it did 12 months ago.  And, not included is Luke Schenn….who I think we can all agree is a promising young defenceman.  Add to that Lee Stempniak (not a rookie) and you really start to appreciate the work that Cliff Fletcher has done in a short period of time with his hands tied by the no-movement-clause brigade (I refuse to call them the Muskoka 5).

Again, this post is not to suggest that the re-build is complete – simply that we are thankfully starting to see a ray of hope and that Cliff has done a decent job.  Over to Burke to do what he can to turn a few other Vets into talent for the future.


Cujo In, Lee??? Not sure, Burke- Not Yet

According to sportsnet Cujo is in nets tonight vs. the Thrashers as for Lee Stempniak, we aren’t sure yet as (stop laughing) Carlo and Alex haven’t yet passed their physicals….

McKenzie has the buds presenting a term sheet to Burke, with progress being made towards an offer….

Anyone read Damien in today’s star? As bad as it gets with him….

Colaiacovo, Steen for Stempniak


Tough to make a call on this one….at least right now.  This is not like a trade deadline deal where one team gets a guy to put them over the hump for a cup run.  It’s a deal that involves 3 young players so it will be measured over the next couple of years vs. days or weeks.

One could argue that this deal did not (or should not) have to be made at this time.  It could be compared to selling a bank stock over the past few weeks….Would waiting it out and letting Colaiacovo and Steen show improved play net more in return?  Perhaps Wilson pushed to have these guys moved out to continue the process of clearing out the over-sold mediocrity that we’ve become accustomed to.  Were Steen and Colaiacovo part of the “complacent” crew that didn’t show enough passion or seem to care when not playing well?  Or is it simply that Fletcher had a chance to get “his guy” and pulled the trigger now…Who knows.  What I do know is that Steen has not proven to be a goal scorer or defensive shut down guy….in other words, not very useful.  In return, we got a player that is supposed to be an NHL caliber finisher.  Colaiacovo, who on numerous occasions showed promise, seemed to have his progression stunted each time he got hurt.  Or, based on the coach’s assessment not move forward because of conditioning…He may have been a thrown into the deal for Fletcher to get the guy he wanted.

If Steen and Colaiacovo continue on the path that they have been on over the past couple of years – this deal will prove to be a good one for the Buds…

Who should Stempniak play with?

I’m a Kulemin fan but he has not proven to be a finisher.  Grabovski would probably be leading the league in assists if Kulemin had more touch around the net.  Here is what the scouts said about Kulemin before the season.

“While Kulemin is unlikely to ever develop into a top line scoring sniper, his upside is that of a very capable third line checking forward who would also be able to fill in on the top lines in the case of injury.”

That plus what we’ve seen so far would suggest that Kulemin would be more suitable on our 3rd line with Stempniak taking over as right winger for Grabovski on the 2nd line.

Antropov  Stajan  Poni
Hagman  Grabovski  Stempniak
Blake  Mitchell  Kulemin
Mayers  Moore  White

All Lee Stempniak….

Once again a hot issue occurs, and TSM is going to take you around the globe (not Globe) for your reading pleasure:

Mike Brophy over at Sportsnet, provides the news, but no real commentary:

“There was a time, not so long ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs thought so highly of forward Alexamder Steen they refused to make him part of a deal that would have landed them superstar defenceman Chris Pronger. Steen, 24, has not blossomed into the top six forward the Leafs thought they were getting when they drafted him 24th overall in 2002. He scored a career-best 18 goals as a rookie three years ago, but slipped to 15 in each of the past two years. He had two goals and four points in 20 games this season. Colaiacovo, 25, has shown signs of being a gifted offensive contributor from the blue line, but injuries have prevented him from playing anything close to a complete season. He hurt his foot last week blocking a shot, drawing the ire of coach Ron Wilson for his poor conditioning. In 10 games this season he has one assist. Stempniak, 25, was chosen 148th in 2003. He scored 27 goals and 52 points in 82 games, but slipped to 13 goals and 38 points in 82 games last season. He was fifth in Blues scoring with three goals and 13 points in 14 games at the time of the deal. ”

Yawn… I hope they don’t pay fot critical analysis… The rest of Brophy is here

On the same channel, Jim Kelly likes the deal for the Leafs:

“One thing we can be relatively certain of regarding the Cliff Fletcher-Ron Wilson tandem in Toronto is that they don’t like soft players.One could say the same about Carlo Colaiacovo who clearly got the don’t -let-the-Mr. Softee-truck-door-hit-you-in-the-backside speech from Wilson when the coach commented on the deal that sent the oft-injured defenceman and Alex Steen (no great physical player himself) to St. Louis for Lee Stempniak.Now don’t get the idea that Stempniak is the second coming of Cam Neely, but being a top-six forward for St. Louis, in terms of hockey skills, doesn’t hurt and he does have a little grit to his game. Understand he’s not a “me” guy and might even be a little media shy by centre of the universe standards, but this native of West Seneca, a first-rim suburb of Buffalo, NY, has what Leafs management — even if that management changes this week — wants: a guy who knows there is a price to be paid for making and then staying in the NHL. He played for a local junior-level team and for a local high-school team in his formative years and parlayed that hard work and some academic ability into a scholarship to Dartmouth College. It wasn’t so much that he was a Rhodes Scholar candidate that he went to Dartmouth, it was more a case of combining hockey (which he wanted) with a college education (which his parents demanded). He took his best offer, which was also his only hockey offer and headed for Dartmouth in part because the school promised him a chance to play right away. Little did they know that they had no competition. Stempniak is one of those players who works to survive and when you factor in desire, talent and that no one ever said he was soft, well, it becomes one of those two-for-one deals that actually make sense. Maybe not over the long term, but then long-term went out the door when Colaiacovo and Steen were sent packing. Anybody care to say they will be missed?”

I believe Kelly is on to something here. It was very clear that Carlo was not a Ron Wilson guy. Steen’s first ever benching was a sign that perhaps he too was a resident of chateaux bow wow. I have to believe that despite Wilson’s comments to the contrary, this was a deal he wanted badly. You can find more of Mr. Kelly here.

Over at the other network, Daren Dreger was the lone dissenting voice (at least so far)….

“Analyzing trades shortly after they’re made is a tricky business, but the quick reaction from around the NHL is that Lee Stempniak for Carlo Colaiacovo and Alex Steen doesn’t address Toronto’s needs. If Toronto is truly in a “rebuild”, the belief is that a package for either player (or both) – as St. Louis managed to swing – should have included draft picks.”

Not one GM/Scout is ever going to say ‘oh yeah, awesome deal for the Leafs, I wouldn’t have offered more’….That isn’t going to happen. The reality is, one guy had to evaluate what was (or wasn’t) on the table and what he thought his needs were (or weren’t) and that is Cliff Fletcher. As I told you earlier, one scout was clearly upset that his team didn’t get Steen, but spoke pretty highly of what Cliff got in return. It is very easy to be a monday morning quarterback in these situations. it is even easier to say “he should have gotten more”.

“At 25, Stempniak is labelled as a goal scorer based on a 2006-07 season that included 27 goals and 52 points in 82 games. But his production nose-dived last year and he finished the season with just 13 goals. In the end, the Leafs get a young, skilled, right-handed player who has proven he can score, while the Blues receive a checking centre who lacks confidence and a defenceman who, in the eyes of his coach, just did not fit.”

Isn’t that what trades are supposed to be about??? you can read double D here

In the battle of the dailies, the Star’s Kevin McGran played little in the editorial arena:

” General manager Cliff Fletcher has been targeting Stempniak for a month because he believes he is capable of playing on one of the team’s top two forward lines. Neither Steen or Colaiacovo seemed to have won the confidence of new coach Ron Wilson so far this season, but the GM insists this deal wasn’t a case of addition by subtraction. “It’s not about getting these players out of here – they’re good young hockey players,” said Fletcher. “We think we’re getting somebody that suits our needs better. Plain and simple.” Perhaps most importantly, it’s another move that will inject some new blood into the organization. Colaiacovo and Steen were once pegged to be longtime stalwarts with the Maple Leafs, but neither had lived up to expectations so far. As a result, they won’t be around to see the results of the current rebuilding effort. “We have changed the chemistry in the dressing room substantially,” said Fletcher. “I have yet to know a player trade in any sport that there isn’t an element of risk in it,” he said. “There is in every trade because the party on the other side is making the trade because they think they’re making a good deal. And we think we’re making a good deal.”Hopefully we’re both right.”

I think that is about right. There is no question that Cliff clearly felt he had to change this team dramatically, and he has done just that. The changes are everywhere and lets hope they are for the better. You can read McGran here….

David Shoalts at the Globe has lots to say on the deal…

“However, sending defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo and forward Alexander Steen to the St. Louis Blues for winger Lee Stempniak is not the NHL blockbuster it might have been a year or two ago even if both Leafs were first-round draft picks. But it is a good trade for the Leafs because they received a top-six forward for two players who never looked likely to live up to the team’s initial projections. If there are someone’s fingerprints all over this deal they are Ron Wilson’s, not Burke’s, although the Leafs head coach was quick to deny that yesterday. “No, not at all,” Wilson said. “Obviously I had some input into the deal because Cliff Fletcher asked me what I thought of Stempniak because I had coached against him.” Nevertheless, it is easy to conclude that Wilson was less than keen on both Colaiacovo and Steen. Both players are classic examples of that Toronto phenomenon — the player who is overrated in the minds of the fans and some media simply because he was a high draft pick by the Leafs. Sometimes this results in an overly swollen head on the player’s part, which is what more than one reporter noticed when interviewing Colaiacovo and, at times, Steen. “He’s got blue-and-white disease,” one NHL management type said of Colaiacovo, whose status as a hometown boy probably played into his attitude. “He’s been there too long and thinks he’s special.”

Sorry, as I said above, I don’t buy Ron’s story at all. I do agree with how both fans and media over-rate our draft picks and prospects. Part of the problem is just coverage overload. In this town we know more about every prospect and also in part because history has taught us we aren’t that in drafting, cause the good ones we take blossom elsewhere. Sometimes being a leaf fan is a bit of curse as we tend to see the world in blue and white glasses and some times, gulp the media sells it that way too…. You can read Shoalts here

Neither the Sun (or Canoe/Slam ) nor the Post had one piece of editorial posted as I write this at 12:15am… Need I say more about that?

Over at the Fan, Happy Howie correctly believes that is only just the beginning:

“Call this deal today a preemptive strike. Presuming that Brian Burke had no knowledge of the two-for-one swap between the Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues – as all parties will insist – you can be confident it’s the first of many similar moves the Leafs will make once their new general manager is in place. If I am Matt Stajan, Tomas Kaberle, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anton Stralman, Jason Blake, Ian White, Pavel Kubina or Nik Antropov – and no matter how decently any of the aforementioned have played this season – I’m not rushing to extend leases or rental agreements in this city. A quick round-up shows that seven members of management and coaching are no longer with the club, or in the same positions; while a total of 26 players in uniform at one time or another last season have either been moved, reassigned, or have not yet seen action with the Leafs this year. That’s a remarkable turnover in personnel – more than an entire 23-man NHL roster – and the trend to acquire fresh blood almost certainly will not stop with today’s peddling of Steen and Colaiacovo to St. Louis for 25-year-old forward Lee Stempniak. If you’re a fan of the Maple Leafs, you should be pleased with the obsession towards change. There is no guarantee that all of the moves executed so far will ultimately prove beneficial for the hockey club, but the sheer unwillingness to stick with a losing hand is an impressive quality of the current regime. Had Ferguson recognized the same requirement after his second playoff miss in 2007 – and some suggest he approached ownership about such maneuvering but was re-buffed – he might still be a Maple Leafs’ employee. But, his unwillingness or inability to affect change led to his demise with the organization. What it leads us to believe is that the Leafs – for the first time in recent memory – are not content with merely putting a bunch of good guys on the ice. Or behind the bench. This is not to imply that either Wilson or any of the new players are “bad” guys. It’s simply that concurrent losing will no longer be tolerated. A good “feeling” among players in the dressing room will not drive management or coaching decisions in the absence of results. The sense of entitlement that Wilson has alluded to among former players – though it’s easy for him to make such claims – will presumably be discouraged until an appearance in the Stanley Cup final is achieved. This sweeping level of change has the potential to be extremely rewarding for a stoic franchise, providing that direction isn’t altered in mid-term. His first decision might well be to put Blake on waivers, though I certainly do not wish any misfortune or tumult on a good guy battling leukemia. But, it’s a move that Burke may execute for a number of reasons – not the least of which is, simply, that current management hasn’t felt the compunction to do so. Many of the other incumbents – Stajan, Kaberle, Kubina, White, Antropov, Stralman and Ponikarovsky – have trade value to varying degrees. Burke understands he’ll be able to put his indelible imprint on the organization – and continue to revamp the dynamic of a losing team – by increasing the movement of personnel that comprised all or part of the current playoff drought. And, Fletcher isn’t likely to hesitate if another appealing trade crosses his desk in the interim, though he insisted today that nothing else is currently in the works. As such, the St. Louis deal may be merely the tip of the ice-burg for the Blue & White.”

Of course the usual shots from Howie, but we don’t expect much else. I think the reality is it’s hard to find much fault with what Cliff did today. The JFJ era is quickly becoming a very bad memory, with very little left of his pathetic efforts. With Steen gone, I firmly believe the flood gates are next, all vets are available. It is nice to see there being some accountability for once…. You can read Howie here

Over in St. Louis, the beat writer Jeff Gordon wasn’t too keen on the Blues “giving up on Stempniak”:

“Winger Lee Stempniak was the rarest of commodities, a real offensive threat drafted and developed by the Blues. So his departure for underachieving Maple Leafs Alex Steen, a versatile forward, and Carlo Colaiacovo, a rangy defenseman, is a bit of a head scratcher. Sure, the Blues acquired a natural center to fill an immediate need and a defenseman to add some depth. But isn’t this franchise dedicated to building long-term? How could the Blues give up on a home-grown shooter who scored 27 goals two years ago and was producing at a point-per-game pace this season? We’ll need some convincing in this corner of cyberspace. This deal sounds suspiciously like a Ron Caron trade, moving a potential standout for depth. Stempniak struggled all last season. But he worked himself into excellent shape over the summer and had a great training camp. A knee injury derailed him, but he was getting his game back. He had 13 points in 14 games and was making an impact on the power play. He was justifying the team’s long-term investment in him. Stempniak looked capable of filling a big role here, especially after Keith Tkachuk and Paul Kariya head toward the sunset. It’s just weird to see the Blues trade a player who was just regaining his stride after a year-long battle. This deal would have made perfect sense last February. Now? Well, we’ll see if the two new guys provide more than a short-term spark.”

Interesting that one, the folks there aren’t looking at the world through blue and white glasses and they have done their homework. Also good to see (from the leaf perspective) that those who really know the Blues aren’t in love with the idea of giving up on a kid…Funny, no one here is saying the same about either Carlo or Steen…. you can read the post dispatch here….

Still in the States, Pieree LeBrun over at Espn offered this after talking Burke for a few paragraphs…
“As for the deal, Stempniak has the most upside offensively, although with the long list of injuries in St. Louis, the Blues get some much-needed depth. Colaiacovo has never been able to stay healthy long enough to live up to his first-round draft pick potential, but this is a worthy gamble for St. Louis. Puck-moving defensemen are a valuable commodity, and if Colaiacovo ever manages to figure it out, this deal could help both teams.”

not much to dissect there…. you can read his take on Burke here

Foxsports didn’t make a mention of the deal on it’s website….

Over at Hanky Land Andy Strickland offered the following:

“Toronto wanted a right handed shot on the PP and are getting a very smart, mature kid who was once considered a building block for the Blues organization. Stempniak brings lots of versatility to any lineup. He can be a top six player who can play the half wall or the right point on the PP. He can also kill penalties.The Buffalo native became somewhat expendable with the emergence of rookie T.J. Oshie who remains out with a high ankle sprain. The plan is for this trade to allow Oshie to see more minutes in both 5-on-5 and PP situations.This move was made with a long-term approach. Maple Leafs fans should be excited about getting a guy has underrated strength on the puck and has shown greater explosiveness after dedicating himself this past summer to improving his skating. His quick release and scoring knack makes him a threat every time he crosses the blue line. Stempniak has recently played his best hockey of the season and has the ability to bust out. I wish this kid the best of luck, he’s earned his way to the NHL after the Blues selected him in the 5th round in 2003. No one outside of Dartmouth University had even heard of him when he skated into the NHL and he has made himself a quality pro.

Sounds ok to me… Here is Andy

Here is a pretty good highlight of Stempniak burying the biscuit…