If Mikael Backlund is available, the Leafs should pursue him

Cam Charron
July 05 2012 08:12AM

Reminder, Jonas Gustavsson will make $3M over the next two seasons in Detroit.

Some interesting possibilities. Sometimes teams get handicapped with a lot of clutter toward the back of their roster, and some good players get forced out. Yesterday, the Calgary Flames signed Akim Aliu and Paul Byron, who are, by my count, the 45th and 46th out of a possible 50 contracts for the Flames. Aliu's deal also makes him the 13th forward with an NHL contract for the Flames.

Remaining unsigned is former first-round pick Mikael Backlund, a centreman with 15 goals in his 138-game NHL career. He had 11 points in 41 games last year. I think he would be an exceptional candidate for the Toronto Maple Leafs' first line.

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Why Not Use IIHF-Sized Rinks?

JP Nikota
July 04 2012 11:37AM


Photo source: hockeyfans.ch

 At first blush, this idea made all the sense in the world to me; I felt that it had the potential to fix so many of the NHL's current woes. Maybe the league wouldn't have to be constantly changing rules if it could just increase the ice surface.

I know what you're thinking: this was an unrealistic prescription from the get-go. The NHL would never expand its ice surfaces. Teams would lose important rows of expensive seats, and sight lines might be ruined in the upper bowls. The short-term cost of renovations would be steep, and the long-term loss of revenue from seats would be unpalatable to owners, many of whom are already in tight to keep their teams in the black.

But I'd like to focus on what it might actually do to the game itself, for a moment. I've taken to examining what European statistics I can get, and have enlisted the help of European hockey journalist Risto Pakarinen (@puckarinen).

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Is Nazem Kadri ready for the NHL?

A. Bates
July 04 2012 02:44AM

 


In a conference call after his acquisition of James Van Riemsdyk, Brian Burke mentioned that Nazem Kadri could be looked at to fill a spot at centre ice for the Maple Leafs next year. This might be somewhat surprising to some, as Kadri has played on the wing for nearly every shift of his pro career.

However, during the Calder Cup Playoffs this year Kadri was switched to centre where he obviously impressed Burke with his performance. Actually, it would be tough for anyone not to be impressed with his performance seeing as he was an integral piece to the Marlies Calder Cup final berth (which he unfortunately didn't play in due to injury). He scored three goals and 10 points in 11 AHL playoff games.

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Leafs Nation Podcast: Free Agency and Mats

Leafs Nation Podcast
July 03 2012 05:26PM

 As you might have expect, this week Danny Gray and I chat about two main topics: free agency and Mats Sundin. We review Brian Burke's progress with the lineup so far this off-season, and attempt to determine what the next focus should be for a trade. You might be surprised at our conclusion, there.

Happy listening.

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The things Phil Kessel can't be

Cam Charron
July 03 2012 11:26AM

What shocks me the most about living in Toronto is the way people view Phil Kessel. I've gone on about this topic before in this space. Basically, Kessel's portrayal in the Toronto media borders on unfair, but the reality of the situation is that Kessel isn't a play-driving, two-way winger and his line needs a centreman to improve its defensive play.

I've also wondered aloud on occasion as to whether a winger exists at the NHL-level that can score a high number of goals and be good enough defensively, to be the sort of player that Toronto fans expect. I found one after a search.

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