Feb 6, 2012; Toronto, ON, Canada; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) celebrates his goal with defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) and center Tyler Bozak (42) against the Edmonton Oilers at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE

The Good, The Bad, And The Battle Of The Rebuilds



Tonight’s game featured two teams that have been searching for a return to prominence in the NHL.  Both Teams have been working vigorously in trying to re brand their team, using philosophies that could not be further from the same.  Edmonton has been scavenging the low end of the NHL standings ever since they appeared in the Stanley Cup Final of 2006, while the leafs have not seen playoff hockey since the lockout of 2005/2005.  Toronto since hiring Brian Burke has used a nuclear approach if you will, throwing as much money as possible at the front office and scouting staff.  Burke has used every asset that could be found in building his roster including college free agents, trades, free agents, and of course draft picks.  The Oilers rebuild seems to focus exclusively on drafting and developing talent.

It is always contested as to which is the proper method to rebuild a team.  Toronto is doing things in what would be considered rather unconventional fashion.  The trading of top draft picks in his first large move as general manager of the Leafs was controversial, but Kessel has improved in each if his three seasons and his development was much farther ahead of where any draft pick could have been.  The college free agents have both hit and missed, with Tyler Bozak playing well enough to be on an NHL roster, Christian Hanson and Brayden Irwin could not cut it.  Ben Scrivens certainly looks like he has a great future ahead of him, as does Jonas Gustavsson and Mark Owuya.  The Jury is still out on Jussi Rynnas.

The Oilers reliance on the draft has provided them some advantages in players such as Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but they still have large holes on the back end.  Their goaltending seems to be in order with Devin Dubnyk, while Nikolai Khabibulin appears to have played his way out of Edmonton.  Those that argue the tank and draft approach fail to recognize one solid fact, that losing is a hard disease to remove from a locker room.  To continue to fall down the standings and draft top talent is great at helping restock the cupboard, that talent eventually has to develop into something.  There are a lot of Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New York Islanders that have drafted in the top third for the last several years with nothing to show for it.  To contrast, the Detroit Red Wings have not seen this part of the draft in two decades, and they have been able to maintain contender status for all of that time.

The final answer should be that their is no right answer, other than the one that works.  On to the game

The Good

– If trade rumors are bothering MacArthur, Kulemin, and Grabovski, they should be bothered all the time.  The three have been lights out since the all star break which could’nt come at a better time with Lupul and Kessel slowing down.

– Kessel is starting to heat up again, scoring number 28 and 29 tonight.  He is beginning to go to the tough areas again which led to his success earlier in the season.

– I know he plays for the oilers, but Jordan Eberle is an exciting player.  His two goals were by no means highlight reel, but he gave the Leafs defense fits all nights

The Bad

– This had to be the single worst game Dion Phaneuf played as a member of the Maple Leafs.  He should have an assist on the Oilers first goal, and was caught flat-footed several times.

– The Leafs as a team got somewhat exposed by the team speed of the Oilers.  There are not many teams that can beat Toronto in a track meet, Edmonton is one of them.

– James Reimer has to stop an untouched shot from the point, regardless of traffic.  Horcoff deserves credit for getting in front but still no reason for James to not make that stop


On a personal note, I want to again encourage anybody that reads this to visit www.miracle4maddie.bbnow.org.  This girl is only five years old and may only have weeks left to live.  It does not require a monetary donation, thoughts and prayers will be just as appreciated.  Thank you again.

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