The Space Between (Draft Day and July 1)

“Look at us spinning out
In the madness of a rollercoaster”

While I’m about 98% sure the NHL offseason is nowhere in Dave Matthews’ thought processes when he sings that song, a rollercoaster ride is about the only way to describe what has been, and will continue to be, one of the most interesting three week stretches in which no actual hockey will be played. This past weekend saw the Leafs add 9 new faces to their organization: Tyler Biggs (RW, USA U-18), Stuart Percy (D, Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors), Josh Leivo (LW, Sudbury Wolves), Tom Nilsson (D, Mora Jr.), Tony Cameranesi (C, Wayzata High School, Minnesota), David Broll (LW, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), Dennis Robertson (D, Brown University), Garret Sparks (G, Guelph Storm) and Max Everson (D, Edina High School, Minnesota). Of the 9 players, only one (Nilsson) hails from somewhere other than Canada or the US, and a number of the Leafs draftees will hone their craft in the NCAA next season, including two of the top three picks. Biggs will join the Miami University of Ohio Redhawks, while Leivo will join the defending champions at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

With the draft in the rearview mirror, all attention has turned to the upcoming free agency period. Today was the deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to their restricted free agents, and the Leafs tendered offers to all their big names. Luke Schenn, still without a contract, Clarke MacArthur, and Tyler Bozak all received offers, as well as Luca Caputi, Ben Scrivens, Greg Scott and Matt Lashoff. Left to test the waters of unrestricted free agency were youngsters Fabian Brunnstrom, Christian Hanson and Brayden Irwin. The qualifying offers allow the Leafs to match any offer sheets directed at their remaining restricted free agents, and of the group, the only one that stands a real chance of slipping away is MacArthur. The two sides have had ongoing discussions, but the differences between them seem to center on the length of the contract. Burke doesn’t seem ready to give SuperMac a long-term deal on the strength of his performance this season alone, but if MacArthur would agree to a one or two-year deal, I’d have to think that deal gets done as well. Heading into Friday’s free-for-all, the Leafs have just under $18.8 million to spend, with just 6 NHL roster spots left to fill. Links wrapping up the weekend after the jump.

With a two-part, more in-depth draft wrap up than I have time or energy to compile, here’s Steve Burtch from Pension Plan Puppets. [Part 1, Part 2]

Another draft review. [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]

Lost in the hubbub of draft day was the Leafs’ acquisition of veteran blueliner John-Michael Liles. Joe Cino tells us what to expect from him next season. [Maple Leafs Hot Stove]

James Mirtle with an interview of Leafs’ top pick, Tyler Biggs. [Leafs Beat]

Curt from BCP thinks Burke has to have a trade up his sleeve. [Blue Chip Prospects]

Finally, a rare and unusual piece from Tim Droogsma, who was at the draft personally, and had the good fortune to spend a few moments chatting with Leafs’ legend George Armstrong. Definitely worth the read. [Tim Droogsma]

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Tags: 2011 NHL Entry Draft Ben Scrivens Brayden Irwin Brian Burke Christian Hanson Clarke MacArthur David Broll Dennis Robertson Fabian Brunnstrom Garret Sparks Josh Leivo Luca Caputi Luke Schenn Max Everson NHL Draft Stuart Percy Tom Nilsson Tony Cameranesi Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Biggs Tyler Bozak

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