Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hockeyleaks.com Free Fantasy Hockey

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You're Only As Good As Your Line...

Here is a new blog by another one of our new bloggers, Craig DiMarco. He will be giving us a different perspective on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Make sure to drop by the forums to comment on it. Thanks


“You’re only as good as your line mates out there. The pass he (Grabovski) made through the skates was unbelievable; I think the goalie was still looking behind the net”. That said by Clarke MacArthur coming off a 2 goal night against the penguins and inching him closer to put his name in the record book for the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The unreal chemistry among Kulemin, Grabovski and MacArthur was not foreseen by Ron Wilson or any coaching staff. This line would become the new number one line in no time at all. Each player on the line, nearing career high points at the half way point of the season.
MacArthur’s Career High last year was split between the Buffalo Sabers and the Atlanta Thrasers, totalling 16 goals and 35 points. He has 14 goals and 37 points at 44 games with the blue and white.

Mikhail Grabovski’s Career high was the 08-09 season notching 20 goals and 48 points. Now the arguably more matured hockey player, playing with his heart on his shoulder night in and night out has 18 goals and 35 points at half point of the 10-11 season.

Nikolai Kulemin has been doing everything right for this line, working the corners, taking bodies and most importantly holding down the front of the net. Kulemin’s career year was last year with 16 goals and 36 points, now at 44 games in he’s got 16 goals and 33 points.

The line has been one of the bright spots of this year’s leafs. If we look back to all the line changes Wilson has tried to do you can see the only untouched line was that of the Grabovski line, the old saying is why fix something that’s not broken.

What happened to our first line with Kessel? I’m not implying that Bozak isn’t a great center, but who does Kessel have to play with that can match or overtake that the play of Savard. A question that needs to be answered by only our General Manager Brian Burke, the need for a true number one line center would reignite Kessel’s goal production.

Until then, we must be happy with the kids from the Marlies doing straight WORK. Joey Crabb, Darryl Boyce and saving the best for last James Reimer. These kids show you how development is so important in the cap era of the NHL, each player igniting all players on their lines to scoring and most importantly playing hard two-way hockey!

Being out of the last spot for the playoffs by more than 10 points, doesn’t put the greatest feeling into the pit of the hockey crazed fan here in Toronto, but seeing how the development and chemistry is starting to mend together gives everyone here in Toronto something to be optimistic for. A few missing puzzle pieces could be the exact formula to become a strong contender in the near future.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Caps Blogger

Over the next few days, you will start to see more blogs going up on Hockeyleaks.com's Column Section. The first of which is by Stacie Beasley, a great writer who has a passion for the Washington Capitals. Make sure to check the blog out below, and stop by the Columns forum to comment on it. Welcome to the team, Stacie!


What would happen if you traveled to your teams’ rival city?
By: Stacie Beasley 1/7/11

Prior to this NHL season, many questioned if the Washington Capitals and the Pittsburgh Penguins had established a true rivalry. While each of the eight playoff series that they have played against each other were intense, Pens fans will argue since they won 7 of the 8 series that they don’t consider the Caps a rival, just a punching bag to warm them up for the Finals. It’s the Caps fans with a grudge that are creating the image of a rivalry, they say.

When the NHL announced this past summer that the Capitals were to play the Penguins in the 4th annual Winter Classic at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, everyone started talking. For most, it went something like this: “What!? The Pens are in the Winter Classic, AGAIN?” and “Caps and Pens aren’t a rivalry… Bettman is just trying to shove Ovechkin and Crosby down our throats again. (Insert team here) should be playing (insert team here) in (insert city here.)” However, Caps and Pens fans immediately researched how to get tickets and set the countdown clocks to New Year’s Day.

Being a Capitals season ticket holder, I was privy to getting tickets. Excitement built over the days leading to the event despite concerns about abnormal weather putting a “damper” on things. Due to the rain, the Winter Classic was postponed to 8pm which allowed A LOT more time for tailgating in the parking lots near Heinz Field. As my group of Caps fans wandered through the cars, ice sculptures (hockey fans take tailgating to a whole new level) and thousands of happy Pens and Caps fans, we were cheered and mostly jeered due to Pens fans buying up all the tailgating spaces. We mingled with fans from both teams, and I learned that Pens fans really aren’t so bad.

You see, in the Washington, D.C. area, Caps fans passionately hate Crosby and the Penguins. When Pittsburgh came to town before the Caps regained popularity, too many Penguin fans did too, which triggered the Caps/Pens fans rivalry. Anxiety was high for Caps fans hanging out in enemy territory. One could compare the feelings to a Redskins fan hanging out in Dallas before their team played the Cowboys (the biggest rivalry in the NFL) or something Canadians might relate better to is a Leafs fan attending a Habs game in Montreal.

After hours of drinking and playing games with good-natured hockey fans from both sides, everyone walked to Heinz Field in good “spirits”. We all knew that when the game ended, things would be different… or would they?

Standing in line to get into the stadium, Caps and Pens fans were in awkwardly close quarters. Despite some fans exchanging a few hostile words, Caps fans and Pens fans were enthusiastically chatting about various topics. We all appreciated the fact that we were getting to take part in an extraordinary event and we respected each other’s passion for the great sport of hockey. After a battle of screaming “C-A-P-S CAPS CAPS CAPS” and “LET’S GO PENS”, we found common ground as someone began a chant of “F**K THE FLYERS!” which was something fans from both teams could agree on.

Though once the puck dropped, civility stopped. Snide remarks were everywhere. When one fan base chanted, the other would attempt to override them creating a “Let’s go Pens/Caps” blend. When the Penguins scored first, the Pens fans rubbed it into the faces of the Caps fans. When the Caps scored, Caps fans did likewise but then some unfortunately discovered a beer puddle in their seats as they sat back down. Some Pens fans displayed as poor sportsmanship as the team they cheered for (as the Penguins left the ice before shaking hands with the Capitals after the game ended.) With a couple of minutes left in the game as the Capitals lead 3-1, Penguins fans began to stream out of the arena leaving Caps fans boisterously cheering for the visiting team and enjoying a victory of a highly publicized battle. Remaining Pens fans were quick to remind the Caps fans how it was just 2 points in a regular season game and just wait for the spring.

After the game, we giddy Caps fans celebrated in the local bars. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised at how nice the Penguin fans were to us. Though they were depressed about their team losing, they bought us beers and engaged in lighthearted conversations with us while loudly exclaiming the Stanley Cup count of both teams. With the exception of two disgruntled Pens fans starting a scuffle with a few Caps fans after we left a bar, overall Pittsburgh was a wonderful host.

The 2011 Winter Classic no doubt fueled a rivalry that has been in the making for a long time between the Capitals and Penguins clubs. For their fans, however, it somewhat has dulled down the rivalry amongst them. For it brought to our attention that we share the commonalities of being very passionate about the sport of hockey, that we are lucky to support such entertaining talented hockey teams, and that we both hate the Flyers. Now when our next match up on Super Bowl Sunday at Verizon Center occurs, that camaraderie may be forgotten and will be a distant memory shall the Caps and Pens meet in the playoffs.


if you are interested in blogging for Hockeyleaks.com, email me at cjohnson202@hockeyleaks.com or send me a message on twitter (@hockeyleaks)

Friday, January 07, 2011

Late Night Rumblings

First of all, I'm addicted to the new Twitter for Mac App. For those who don't know, Apple launched a new app store for Mac Computers today. Haven't really gotten a chance to look at many yet, but the Twitter one is a definite win.

On to what really matters:

As I tweeted early this afternoon, I received a random email from an author-less sender today telling me that Jamie Langenbrunner was on his way to the Dallas Stars. I get a lot of emails on a daily basis and several times a week I get "insiders" telling me rumoured deals that are "about to go down". Usually I can discard these immediately from my own knowledge, while others quickly get shot down the second I mention them to one of my own sources. But sometimes, these emails have substance.

I remember breaking the Sean Avery to Dallas signing a couple years back. It was an email from a random person in Dallas who knew someone who knew something. While I didn't know how credible this person was, when I did some digging, I found out that Avery was indeed about to sign with the Dallas Stars.

Same situation happened in Calgary a couple of seasons ago when they re-acquired Craig Conroy in 2007. An individual from a local Calgary TV station emailed me and said "Flames have told us there is a press conference tomorrow to re-introduce Conroy." I had never talked to this person before, so I wasn't going to immediately jump the gun and make the deal official, but sure enough, a few sources later and I knew Conroy was about to be Calgary bound.

That leads us to today, when I received a similar email stating that Jamie Langenbrunner had been or was in the process of being traded to the Dallas Stars. Several hours after receiving this email, it came out that Langenbrunner was indeed on the trading block and may have been asked to waive his NTC. Either way, it looks like he's done in NJ.

Is he going to Dallas? That I don't know. To me, Dallas doesn't make sense, as we keep hearing about how they are looking to cut costs and shed salary. But either way, it's something I'm keeping my eye on.

Something else to keep an eye on? The Columbus Blue Jackets, who are apparently close to landing a significant puck moving defenseman from the Eastern Conference. No names have surfaced yet, but sources tell Hockeyleaks.com that the deal has been discussed for almost a month and that the Blue Jackets and the other team involved are ready to pull the trigger.

As we head towards the trade deadline, things are sure to heat up. A lot of teams think they are "in it" this year, and this year more than ever, I expect some big names to be on the move.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Rumours for Jan. 03

- With the Tampa Bay Lightning acquiring Roloson, they are no longer looking to sign Nabokov. While things have quieted down on the Nabokov front, the sinking Chicago Blackhawks could look to the veteran Russian if their struggles continue. Their are a few other teams interested, with whispers suggesting the Ottawa Senators could be one of them.

- The Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get active on the trade front, with several of their players getting interest from other teams. Francois Beauchemin, despite his big contract, has received interest from up to five teams. The Phoenix Coyotes and San Jose Sharks are two of them. Kris Versteeg has been asked about by a few teams as well, with the Atlanta Thrashers and Carolina Hurricanes being two of them.

- The Leafs, meanwhile, have kicked tires with Florida on Stephen Weiss' availability. In final Leafs trade rumour news for the days, many teams have asked about Clarke MacArther's availability. Toronto would like to keep both him and Versteeg but would be willing to move either in a deal to bring a bonafide number one centre to Toronto. Detroit and Pittsburgh are two teams who have shown interest in MacArther.

Jerome Iginlas' recent strong play has more teams asking about him, with LA and Philadelphia being two of them. While the Flames continue to sit near the bottom of the Western Conference, don't expect an Iginla trade until right up until the trade deadline. One source tells me "I think Iginla will be moved, but the Flames don't want to move him. This reminds me a lot of the Ryan Smyth situation, and it could be dead on. Iggy could end up where we least expect him at the very last minute."

The Thrashers and Predators have been talking about a deal that would send Niklas Bergfors to Nashville for a prospect and a mid-level draft pick.

The Blue Jackets had significant interest in James Wisniewski before he was traded to Montreal. Look for the Blue Jackets to make a move for a puck moving defensemen as soon as they possibly can.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nabokov to NHL?

If you were surprised when Evgeni Nabokov signed with a KHL team this past summer, you were not alone. Nabokov was widely considered one of the premier goalies in the NHL, constantly leading the San Jose Sharks to success, season after season. SKA St. Petersburg, Nabokov's KHL team, terminated his four year contract earlier today citing family problem. Sources tell me that those problems stem from his family, who remained in North America (his Children were born in the States), being unable to adjust to a Russian lifestyle.

So Nabokov is on his way to North America as I write this and everyone I speak to believes his immediate future is in the NHL. But where will the prized Russian netminder end up?

The leading contender is Tampa Bay, who have allowed a league high 106 goals. The Bolts are currently going with a Mike Smith / Dan Ellis platoon, but it's become clear that both are unable to carry this team where they want to go. Mike Smith's best days appear to be behind him in Dallas, while it's becoming quite clear that Dan Ellis' past success likely had more to do with Nashville's defensive system than his skill.

While burrying one of this two in the minors (assuming they are both untradeable, which seems to be the case) would be a risky move for GM Yzerman, It's probably the right one. Nabokov would give this team it's best goalie since Khabibulin and would transform Tampa Bay from a fringe team to a legitimate contender.

But getting Nabokov won't be easy. Because of the NHL's waiver rules, wherever Nabokov signs, he must pass through waivers before joining any team. Tampa isn't the only team with interest.

Sources tell Hockeyleaks.com that as many as five teams could have interest in Russian olympian, including Washington, who have lost six straight, and Ottawa, who are getting fed up with "Starter" Pascal Leclaire's injuries.

So keep an eye of Evgeni Nabokov over the next couple of weeks. There is significant interest around the NHL in the former all-star goalie and all bets are on him being on an NHL roster before long. He really could be the difference maker for a team like Tampa Bay or Washington, who have all the offense they need but a big hole between the pipes.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Rumours for November 26, 2010

- With Marc-Andre Bergeron cleared to play, the next step is a team signing him. Two of his former clubs, the New York Islanders and Montreal Canadiens, have shown interest due to injuries to their respective top d-men (Streit and Markov). Look for Bergeron to sign with an Eastern club sometime in the next 10-14 days. The Tampa Bay Lightning are also said to be very interested in the hard-shooting defenseman.

- The Columbus Blue Jackets continue to look for a puck-moving defenseman, something they have been looking to acquire for the past few seasons. While recent speculation has the team talking to the Sens about Brian Lee and Erik Karlsson, sources tell Hockeyleaks.com that talks between the two teams have stalled and are not expected to resume.

- With Sabres captain Craig Rivet once again set to be a healthy scratch, it appears as though the team may push him to give up his captaincy. While the Sabres may attempt to move Rivet, his 3.5 million dollar salary will make him a tough sell.

- The San Jose Sharks continue to look for some blueline help. They've been rumoured to have interest in the previously mentioned Bergeron, while recent whispers around Toronto suggest they have interest in a pair of Maple Leafs defenders, including Luke Schenn.

- With the Devils tight against the cap, they may look at moving the struggling David Clarkson. Clarkson has just six points in 22 games.

- With the Flyers also up against the cap, they will struggle to resign Ville Leino, who the club is said to be hopeful to extend. Brayden Coburn could be dealt to make room. Coburn has another year left on his deal and is owed 3.2 million next season.