Will Brian Burke Land That Top Six Forward For The Leafs?

With summer on the cusp of fall Brian Burke has had a busy summer. His spring was pretty busy too, reaping rewards from the College system. Looking through the roster as it stands, or may stand, when October rolls around, the first two lines may look like this:

Kulemin - Grabovski - Hagman/Ponikarovsky

Blake - Mitchell/Stajan - Stempniak

One thing the Leafs are not short of are options. Those options, though, have only four players scoring 20 goals or more. Those options max out at 25 goals for Jason Blake. Jason Blake isn't defensively responsible enough to play top line minutes, although his -2 wasn't the end of the world. Burke is taking a huge chance that one of Mitchell or Grabovski can play against other teams' best players and still produce offense(not that I am on the Mitchell-is-a-solid-two-way-player train).

This brings me to the title of this installment; Will Brian Burke Land That Top Six Forward For The Leafs? What options are out there? From the free agent pool:

Maxim Afinogenov at 29 made $3,500,000 in 2009

Alex Tanguay at 29 made $5,375,000 in 2009

Mike Comrie at 28 made $4,000,000 in 2009

Not a really thick crop. Comrie is a center and we're thick with those. Also Comrie doesn't have a great team player reputation. Jason Blake would have to pummel him in practice.

Trade possibilities are, of course, endless. But what makes a trade make sense? Not losing any prospects or picks, getting a young player that can produce offensively in the next 2 to 3 years and maybe having to pick up some salary in the process. I went through all the wings in the league on NHL.COM and didn't see any players that I would personally fawn over. Obviously the rumors abound and it will be interesting to see what Burke does, especially now that Tomas Kaberle can no longer be traded. I think the roster will get October and the better part of November to find itself before Burke starts looking at what is available on the market for wingers. Here's hoping we get that one piece that gets the Leafs over 93 points this season. Yes, I am that optimistic.


NHL 10 Demo: First Thoughts

Well August 20th is the new Christmas. The NHL Demo came out this morning and here are my thoughts after playing through a period of Be A Pro on Hardcore settings as a RW Playmaker:

The Upside:

- The new passing is as advertised; a lot harder to connect a tape to tape pass, but the possibilities are limitless with more control over the power of the pass.

- I completely forgot about the slowing down of the speed of play because I had so much more control over my player.

- The goalies animations are impressive and they follow the puck much better. I have already seen a "bat the puck away" desperation move that was also batted out of the zone out of the air by the defenseman

- The puck stays loose and the physics are no longer run by the players' internal magnets. There were a lot of realistic goal-mouth scrambles that didn't always turn into a goal.

- One of the two goals I scored was a sweet cross crease one-timer that was setup from the opposite corner from behind the net, that I didn't have to call for. The offensive awareness of the AI has improved a great deal

The Downside:

- There's going to be a massive learning curve for me; the passing, while awesome, will take a lot of getting used to

- I got a penalty using the new "mush the guy in the boards like NHL 2K3" feature, for doing it 3 seconds after the puck left the area. DO NOT mash on the Y button until it works, you'll get burned

- I will miss destroying guys with a cross-rink hip check; the hit assist is gone

Remember that all of this was one game, before work, on Hardcore. You can play however you like. You can turn down the new features and all the 2K veterans will cream over the sliders for all the effects of the game. I have no real negative comments on this Demo so far. I will play a tonne more in the next few days. I probably won't do another review as there will be eleventy-billion out by 5 pm today. I cannot wait for the full game(and of course October 1st Leafs vs Habs!)!

{edit} Oh Yeah, I got drafted 10th overall after the game with A+ Position, D+ Teamplay and A+ Stats. Started the game ranked 15th overall. The D+ Teamplay was helped by the penalty taken for smooshing a guy agaiunst the boards without the puck