September 09, 2009

Wait, What?

From Tim Wharnsby in The Globe and Mail, in an article about Phil Kessel being the apple of Brian Burke's eye:

"...The only current Maple Leafs forwards who have top-six status in Burke’s mind are Mikhail Grabovski and Matt Stajan."

The fuck?

Stajan over Alexei Ponikarovsky? It can't be. Someone please tell me that's a typo. Sure, when I'm drinking I get Stajan and Poni confused, and, sure, Mississauga Matt put up a career-high 55 points last season ... but he's no top-six forward.

Listen, I'm all about Burke. I've drank the proverbial Kool-Aid. But what does Jason Blake have to do to be considered a top-six NHL forward? Fifty forwards put up more than his 63 points last season. That's an average of 1.6 per team. Blake's a top-sixer, as is Ponikarovsky.

It doesn't happen often, but I don't believe in Matt Stajan. In fact, I believe in Jason Allison more than I believe in Matt Stajan.

Kid Kadri and Christian Hanson

After a weekend that saw family in town and two good friends tie the knot, Tuesday was a most unwelcomed return to reality. What helped was watching NHL Rookie Tournament highlights on Sportsnet. (Only in nutty Canada. I love it.)

It's hard not to be excited about Nazem Kadri and Hanson. Kadri's goal against Boston was filthy; remindful of the talent that led him to be drafted 7th overall. While Hanson, as much as it's footnoteingly possible to tally a hat trick, did just that.

I don't think Kadri makes the Leafs out of training camp, but let it be known that I thought the same about Luke Schenn. Also: we need a nickname for Hanson.

Media Relations

Not only do I run the editorial side of Sports And The City, I also work PR. And I'm here to remind you to head over to your local Chapters Indigo store (which one is it: Chapters or Indigo?) and pick up your copy of the 2009/2010 Maple Leafs Annual. It is, for lack of a better word, awesome.


Garrett Bauman said...

Burke is just trying to light a fire under some of his guys with that comment. The last time I believed something a GM said publicly, I went out and bought an Oilers' jersey with Gretzky stitched across it. Year was 1988 and that was a lot of money for a nine year old. Yes, I am still bitter about that.

Oh, and one more thing:

I believe in Matt Stajan.

eyebleaf said...

So I shouldn't believe in Brian Burke? I certainly believed what he said about Tomas Kaberle.

I believe in Matt Stajan.

Like the guy working security at the SkyDome said to me when he saw my I Believe In Vernon Wells sign: "That makes one of us."

Mattt said...

I'm on the fence with Stajan. I suppose he's trying to motivate those two. They may be made of top six material. Time will tell...

floridaLEAF said...

I have always been a Stajan fan and would like to believe he can be a top 6 guy, but I'm not sold yet. Being a top 6'er on the Leafs last year (and this year)and being a true NHL top 6'er are two different things. He has the vision, soft hands and reads plays quite well, but until he can step up his game physically, he will never be a true top 6 player. Maybe Burke is trying to motivate him or the other players, but until Matty hits the weightroom and starts winning some battles in the corner, my belief in him will be more about hope than reality.

Garrett Bauman said...

Always good to see how the other side lives, once in a while. Maybe once the baseball season is done you can do a Matt Stajan Advisory System of sorts ...

... For the record, I don't think the guy will ever tear it up point-wise (60 is probably the limit), but he is a good player who does the little things in a game that help a team win. All teams need those guys.

Johnny G said...

Got my copy of the Annual today Eyebleaf. Haven't read your article yet but I am making my way through the magazine here at work.

It looks great and I am already looking forward to this being an annual thing.

Bobby Paradise said...

Burke did not say Stajan and Grabovski were the ONLY top 6 forwards the Leafs had, he said they were top 6 forwards. Big difference. I'd say he consideres Blake and Poni top 6 too. And since he said Stajan, he probably thinks Primeau, Orr, Allison, and even Exelby are top 6 forwards too.

But Stajan is definitely a 3rd line center.

eyebleaf said...

@ Mattt: Burke's motivation style is usually to berate, if I may quote J.P. Ricciardi, "the player." His comment comes off to me as praise for Stajan. Perhaps I'm just not used to it.

@ Florida: I think Stajan's 55 point season has to be considered a flash in the pan, although Blurr made a good point over at PPP: perhaps Stajan is coming into his own. I'd love to be proven wrong, but like you, I feel like he just has to get stronger on the puck. Hopefully he spent a lot of time in the gym. I might be wrong, but I believe Stajan did improve in the faceoff circle last season. He has to get better in that department. I hope he learned a thing or two from Mats.

@ Garrett: Stajan makes too few dollars to have his own Hatred Advisory System. But I'm with you, I think he can help, but I just don't know in what capacity. He's lauded as a good penalty killer, but our PK's been in the dumps for years. (Although goaltending surely has a lot to do with that.) He seems average in many ways to me. Doesn't excel in any one category. Seriously though, I hope he proves me wrong.

@ Johnny: I too hope it's an annual thing. If you wouldn't mind, I'd love your thoughts on my piece once you get to it. Cheers.

@ Bobby: Allison is DEFINITELY a top-6 forward. He just also happens to be the slowest man alive on skates. What's your centre depth chart? Mine is: Mickey Grabs, John Mitchell, Stajan and Primeau. But what about Wallin? I don't know why, but Mitchell seems to me like he has more upside than Stajan. He's bigger, likes to go to the net with reckless abandon. I think Tlusty's a natural centre too, and he's definitely got more upside than Stajan, so I'd rather not move him to the wing. But at the same time I'm not sure Tlusty is ready for prime time down the middle. Now I'm just rambling. Camp is going to be interesting.

Anonymous said...

If one more person says Jason Allison is a better player than Stajan I'm going to throw up. Stajan might be as exciting as a game of scrabble but if we're using overall effectiveness as our measuring stick......Stajan is a premier third line forward, but since when is it bad practice for a gm to build up one of his own players.

Daoust said...

i believe in being completely indifferent about matt stajan. surely he's earned that much from us?

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

Don't forget Bozak, Stalberg and the Monster too! Is it just me or did my pants just shrink?

It's been a long time since I've been able to say this (actually this might be the first time ever) but the future is bright for Leafs fans!

eyebleaf said...

@ anon: I was kidding about Allison. But in all seriousness, does he have a shot at making this team? He can't. Which means he just might.

@ daoust: He has earned at least that much. This was my final swipe at him until he disappoints me in the pre-season.

@ Hungry: I think Victor is Marlies bound. Where the hell will he play? Bozak should make this team. I've no idea where he slots in either. If Hanson is a centre, could he be #2 behind Mickey? I think so. Mad questions. And I can't wait to see Monster in action. I saw pics from the golf tourney and, I must admit, seeing Kaberle wearing a Leafs polo warmed my heart. The Leafs can't come soon enough. The Jays are cruel.

wrap around curl said...

I've been calling Chris Hanson "Predator."

Man I hope y'all get To Catch a Predator in Canada. It's amazing.

Bakedpot8o said...

I still have big expectations for Matt ever since he potted 14 goals as a rookie. I really thought his ceiling was a 25 goal guy, two way player, but now Im not so sure... his two way play and faceoffs continues to improve, but he is weak in the corners. Looks like he has settled to be a 3rd line centre, but I think Wallin might bump him down the line at camp.

eyebleaf said...

@ Wrap: When I see the phrase "To Catch a Predator" I can't help but think of that DateLine NBC show, where they taped those sickos trying to get with young girls. Best. Show. Ever.

@ BakedPot: I'm not sure Stajan will ever be a 25-goal guy, but he proved himself to be a rather capable two-way player last season. He racked up a ton of assists. It's going to be an interesting camp and season for him. With Moore gone, the Leafs don't really have a #1 faceoff guy. If Stajan can continue to improve in the circle, I think he's def. got a role on this team.

As for Wallin, I'm not getting my hopes up. His signing reminds me of Frogren's, who I got a little too excited about last season. Frogger's good, and all, but he ended up largely on the sidelines, or playing for the Marlies last season. I imagine the same fate awaits Wallin. There's a reason he wasn't playing in the NHL.

Moneypuck said...

I'm not crazy about Kadri, I think hes a fine player but I think he rounds out as a average top 6 guy than a bonafide first liner. I definetly thought the Leafs should have taken Paajarvi.

eyebleaf said...

@ Moneypuck: BELIEVE IN NAZEM KADRI!!1 Please. We need this guy to pan out. Tlusty, too. Only time will tell, I guess.