The Hockey Business Heats Up
The hockey business has its rhythms, its natural ebbs and flows. Usually there's a break in the action, at least the visible activity, between the end of the Stanley Cup final and the draft, which then leads into the free agent market July 1st.
Thanks to Jim Balsillie, however, there really was no break. The frenetic speculation about the possibility of the NHL going to a real hockey market - Hamilton - rather than trying to force its product down the throats of more unsuspecting Americans made last week busy indeed.
Now we return to our regularly scheduled programming, namely rumours and conjecture about various teams and their plans, including:
It sure seems, however, as though the euphoria of qualifying for the Stanley Cup final has faded in a hurry.
The trick for GM Brian Burke, however, is that he needs to know soon, but at the same time doesn't want to rush either player.
An outside name? Don't forget the possibility of Terry Murray with the Bruins. (Ed. note: All speculation on the Bruins job came to and abrupt halt early Monday evening when it was confirmed Claude Julien, the former Montreal and New Jersey coach, will succeed Dave Lewis behind the Boston bench)
The first two are Angelo Esposito of the Quebec Remparts and Sam Gagner of the London Knights. Esposito was touted last season as a potential first overall pick and Gagner was once seen as a top five selection, but the stock of both has fallen a bit, possibly to the point both could be available when the Leafs pick at No. 13.
Rated anywhere from a top 10 pick to a late first rounder, on the other hand, is Brandon Sutter of the Red Deer Rebels, and given the success of the grinding, scrapping Ducks, you can bet a few GMs would like to add that type of element - or family tree - to their organization.
The Leafs haven't taken a Canadian born and trained forward in the first round since Brad Boyes in 2000. Maybe this is the year.