And thus ends July 2015 in Leafs Land.
Where are we at? I believe its time for a recap because even during the dog days of summer, plenty of things are happening down at the offices of the ACC.
Lou Lamoriello is now the General Manager of YOUR Toronto Maple Leafs. This shocking announcement came on the 24th of July and was a complete shock to everybody not named Shanahan, Dubas, and Hunter. I think even Mike Babcock was left out of the loop until the very last minute, which will again show just how clandestine Brendan Shanahan is operating as Team President. This signing irritated some and pleased an equal number, many had brought up the lack of experience in the Leafs upper echelon but with the addition of Uncle Lou Lam this is no longer a concern. Lamoriello will act as the General Manager, voice of the team and mentor to Kyle Dubas for the next 3 years. The 72 year old native of Rhode Island brings extensive NHL connections and THREE Stanley Cups with him from New Jersey to Toronto. To me, this addition is another solid piece of the puzzle but if things get tense during the next few seasons how will all of these alpha wolves work together?
Leafs top draft pick in 2015, Mitchell Marner has agreed to a NHL entry level contract with the team. The 3 year deal was announced on July 28, 2015. Marner, the 4th overall pick this summer will more than likely be heading back to his junior team (not AHL eligible in case some were wondering, but I assume you all know this little factoid) in London this fall after Camp. Also being signed to his ELC was Travis Dermott. This contract was announced a few days before the Marner signing and shows just how busy the front office staff has been this month. Dermott, Leafs second round pick this year, is also expected to head back to Junior hockey in the fall.
Leaked earlier in the summer by an independent media source, it was confirmed on July 20th that Steve Briere would become the Maple Leafs new Goaltending Coach. Briere, the owner and head coach of Canadian Professional Goaltending Schools has worked with many young goalies and is looking forward to assisting Bernier and Reimer get back to the levels many believe they can play at. Speaking of Bernier his arbitration date is set for July 31st (today) and news should be out shortly on that particular deal.
Also announced this July, to much less drama than the Lamoriello signing, was that Ari Vuori is the Toronto Maple Leafs Director of European Scouting. Two decades of scouting experience will now head up a unit that might have been the only functional part of this organization in the last 5 years. Vouri worked with Red Wings for 8 years and the LA Kings for 11. Looking forward to seeing what gems this man can come up with as his experience will prove to be a healthy addition moving forward.
Early in the month it was also announced that recent addition Martin Marincin had signed a 1 year deal with the Leafs. The 23 year old was acquired in a trade with the Edmonton Oilers that sent Brad Ross and a 4th rounder back to the dump in Northern Alberta. Just one week after that announcement, the Leafs also signed Taylor Beck to a 1 year contract. Beck was brought in via trade with Nashville for forward Jamie Devane.
An under the radar signing took place via Free Agency on the 6th of July. Shawn Matthias, 27, put pen to paper with the Leafs on a 1 year deal (notice a pattern???). Matthias had a solid year with the Canucks notching 18 goals and 27 points. The 18g-9a forward might give Jays newly acquired David White a run for the Cy Young in Toronto next year. An interesting signing, but a big body ( 6’4” 223 pounder) that the Leafs desperately need. Matthias will be out to prove his worth in the NHL, just like all of the added 1 year contracts. While I understand the need for these contracts, if these older players are outperformed at Camp are the Leafs willing to let players like Matthias disappear or are the $210 per seat patrons at the ACC forced to watch inferior product this year?
Nazem Kadri and the Leafs also announced that a one year extension had been agreed upon. Kadri had 39 points in 73 games last season in Toronto. The fourth leading scorer had some turbulent times being removed from the lineup on two occasions during the 2015 season. This is a ‘show me’ contract for Kadri. Shanahan will NOT put up with much more of Kadri’s lack of professionalism, but according to reports Nazem has been working hard this summer to improve on his conditioning and focus to his career. I believe Kadri will be given an opportunity to become the #1C in Toronto this year but I do not believe he has the foot speed and attention to detail to stay there long term. We shall find out together, and by together you will send me notes while I am watching the Marlies at the Ricoh.
Don’t forget that you the avid followers of this terrible team for decades can attend Leafs FanFest on September 12, 13 for FREE !!! About time this ridiculously rich franchise starting throwing around some freebies to the dedicated fans of this team. Get down to the ACC and meet current roster players. Hopefully they will have young talented pieces of the future and not just some stiff on a one year deal. Imagine if you spent all the money getting down there and had to hang out with a dude like Semin? Enjoy that Montreal….even in the heat of the summer, I hate you.
and……Regular season tickets are now on sale !
Hope you are having a great summer Leafs fans.