Monday, September 21, 2009

Rating the Leafs young guys:

Who is gonna make this team and who's gonna be cut? Tough call! I like the young guys but there is not enough room for all of them. Burke said he likes the idea of carrying 8 defensmen, on a 23 man roster that means only 13 forwards will make it out of camp.

So who's in, who's out. Here is some speculation:
(Kessel on IR to start the year)

These 9 veterans feel like a lock:
Matt Stajan
Jason Blake
Alex Ponikarovsky
Mikhail Grabovski (not a veteran but a lock anyways)
Niklas Hagman
Lee Stempniak (I don't want him, but I think the veteran will get a spot)
Colton Orr
Wayne Primeau
Jamal Mayers

That leaves 4 spots. If you figure Johnny Mitchell and Nikolai Kulemin are coming off fairly impressive rookie years and listen to the comments made by Ron Wilson then you have to figure they will make it.

Which leaves 2 roster spots. Here is who is still fighting for it, in order of most to least likely:

1. Tyler Bozak - I like his 2-way game and his speed. He seems like a really smart player, and he looks NHL ready. Might have to play unfirmiliar position at wing to make it though.
2. Rickard Wallin - veteran is supposed to be a real character guy. Kills penalties, backchecks hard, plays a physical game, and did I mention defenively aware? Feels like a Ron Wilson type 3rd line centre.
3. Christian Hanson - Big guy, built like a power forward. Likes to go to the trouble area's, in front of the net, in the corners, digs for rebounds, hits. Not an amazing skater, which could hurt him, but he looks quicker than he did at the end of last season.
3. Victor Stalberg - Speedster, looks faster than Jason Blake out there. Known in college for his defensive abilities as well as his offense, and has been given a lot looks by Wilson, being the only guy to have dressed in all of the first 3 exhibition games. That 3 is not a typo, I think its a tossup between Stalberg and Hanson, both guys bring different things to the table.
5. Jason Allison - long shot to make it, but has been producing some pts in pre-season. Allison looks rusty to me and has been stripped a couple times trying to beat another player with simple dekes. But his play in the corners and some of the passes he's made is vintage Allison. At this point I'm still not ruling him out.
6. Jiri Tlusty - I had such high hopes for Jiri Tlusty after his monster January with the Marlies, but he has been underwhealming in camp. Maybe another year in the AHL wouldn't hurt him. I still consider him a monster prospect and a guy who could become a 30 goal man in the NHL some day. Don't forget, most Red Wings don't make the big club until they're 22-26 range. Extra time at the American level won't hurt Tlusty's development. Another good example is Bobby Ryan!
7. Nazem Kadri - Fancy guy, I like the looks of him and I like the way he plays. Ron Wilson hasn't cut him yet, but I really see him as a long shot. Wilson has made comments that Kadri might be a little bit too small/light at this point.
8. Jay Rosehill - I think he's a big surprise in camp. This guy came out of nowhere, at least to me. I didnt have him on my radar coming into Leafs training camp but he has been an absolute beast. Look out for this underdog because Wilson likes him too.

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