While Waiting For Baseball. . .
DUNEDIN--Some meandering hockey thoughts this morning while waiting for the rain to clear and Brett Lawrie to appear:
--Dead last in the west for the Calgary Flames. Yikes. Those who promised this team could win now and rebuild on the fly - Murray Edwards, Ken King, Jay Feaster - have done this team a terrible injustice. Edmonton's not much better, but Oilers are losing with kids; Flames are losing with a mish-mash of nothing in particular.
--The Wild are making a big push in the west after a slow start, and the No. 1 line of Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and rookie Charlie Coyle is a big part of the reason. Coyle, you'll remember, came to Minny in that deal that sent Brent Burns to San Jose. Like the Parise/Ryan Suter signings of this past summer, the Coyle acquistion didn't pay off right away as he was still in junior, but now he's making a statement as a power forward in St. Paul.
Burns, meanwhile, has played only six games this season because of a leg injury and has no points. There is some talk he could be back this week, possibly as early as tonight in St. Louis. But right now Coyle is starting to make this deal sing for the Wild.
Minny's 2011 first rounder, defenceman Jonas Brodin, is also making an increasingly significant contribution. In the Wild's two weekend victories, he played more than 23 minutes.
--Don't think there's anyone in Montreal worrying any more that Michel Therrien was a second choice to coach the team behind Bob Hartley.
--You might think with the way in which Nazem Kadri has matured nicely this season there would be a little more faith with the way in which the Leaf front office chooses to slowly bring along players in the minors. But that's not the case, apparently. The growing angst over the status of Jake Gardiner - just wondering, to those convinced he should be in the NHL actually go to Marlie games? - has many, it would seem, worried the club is wrecking Gardiner's development.
Understand, there's work that needs to be done on the young blueliner's defensive game, and at the Ricoh under Dallas Eakins is the place to do that work. Again, there needs to be a new culture in Toronto that's its not an insult to a player to be with the Marlies.
--Tonight's Leaf game in Winnipeg just has the feel of a pivotal one. Beat the Jets there and the spread between the Leafs and ninth grows a little more. Lose to a Winnipeg club that struggles at home and the dog fight for the eighth and final playoff spot begins.
--Yup, it's true. Drew Doughty still does not have a goal this season in 24 games. Guess the Norris votes won't be pouring in.
The Kings have recalled former Ottawa 67s sniper Tyler Toffoli after he registered 48 points and a plus-20 rating in 55 AHL games this season. Toffoli didn't play in Monday's win over the Flames.
--The season of the Moose Jaw Warriors ends Saturday, which means Eakins will get to start working with Leaf first rounder Morgan Rielly next week.
--Most surprising name among the NHL top scorers has to be Jakub (or just Jake) Voracek at No. 10. Seventh overall in 2007 by Columbus, Voracek is just another example of the risk of evaluating drafts too quickly. Before being dealt to Philly, Voracek was slowly developing. Now he might be third best forward in the draft, depending on how you view James van Riemsdyk (2nd overall) and Max Pacioretty (22nd).
--This is NOT an attempt to stir up a new round of Roberto Luongo-to-Toronto rumours. Honest. Just spitballing, noodling on a scrap of paper, so everyone relax.
Just thinking, however, that nobody's fooling anybody here anymore. Vancouver, falling in the Western Conference standings, needs help at positions more than they need a backup goalie with a $5.333 cap hit. The Leafs, meanwhile, may like James Reimer, but he's not as good as Luongo and may never be.
The landscape seems ripe for a deal. Vancouver obviously has no other serious suitors. The Leafs are in a solid playoff position now but know that could slip away, and the goaltending was iffy last week.
Tyler Bozak seems to be the element that could work for Vancouver, although he's UFA in July. Otherwise, the Canucks know they're not getting a top pick or prospect for Luongo in any deal unless they include other elements. Would they move a player like Zack Kassian along with Luongo, if they could get a player like Jake Gardiner back along with Bozak?
Again, just spitballing here. That's NOT a trade rumour.
Luongo, meanwhile, comes with the dreadful contract, but let's be honest; he would solidify Toronto's goaltending for 3-5 years.
This is still a deal that makes a lot of sense if both teams behave sensibly and creatively. But the bad blood between these two organizations - Mike Gillis took Dave Nonis' job in Vancouver - makes working together very difficult.