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HBO 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic - Episode 1 Review

Saturday night marked the first entry in the popular HBO series "24/7," this year between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings as they gear up for the NHL Winter Classic.

Some look forward to the series more than the game itself as it provides plenty of uncensored behind the scenes footage. Essentially viewers are treated with a barrage of F-bombs and an inside look at the life of the average hockey player.

The first episode, which aired last night at 10 p.m., delivered on the use profanity and a few interesting, if not quirky, characteristics of some players. But let's start with the not-so-good:

The Red Wing...

Gardiner On The Trade Block? Show Me The Centre

Before you flick the switch and let yourself spin around the ceiling fan, let’s consider that a Jake Gardiner trade might not be as bad as you think.

If you haven’t read the report, Elliotte Friedman wrote the following in his always enlightening 30 Thoughts piece:

“14. There is definitely some level of conversation going on between other teams and Toronto involving Jake Gardiner. I despise the word "shopped," as it's more like a feeling-out process. If the Maple Leafs do decide to do it, it's going to be for a young asset or assets. So, you have to look at teams with talented young players. This is PURELY my speculation, but if te...

Leafs Acquire Bolland for Three Draft Picks

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired centre Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks for a second-round draft pick and two fourth-round draft picks (one in 2014).

Bolland isn't the first-line centre the Leafs covet, but the 27-year-old played tough minutes on the Blackhawks, with only 46.1 per cent of his faceoffs coming in the offensive zone and ranking third among forwards in Corsi QoC (quality of competition) last season. He's a defensive centre that should solidify the Leafs' third line in terms of shutdown ability, especially with Jay McClement on the fourth line.

Bolland, who has a $3.375-million cap hit before hitting free agency next summer, isn't grea...

2013 NHL Entry Draft: Leafs Select C Gauthier

The Toronto Maple Leafs have selected C Frederik Gauthier 21st overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

Gauthier is 6-foot-5 and weighs a whopping 215 pounds at 18 years old. He produced 22 goals and 60 points in 62 games for the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL. He was ranked 18th overall on the ISS' final draft rankings.

Corey Pronman, prospects writer for ESPN and Hockey Prospectus, wrote on Twitter that Gauthier is a "very good defensive center. Took all the tough assignments and draws. Big man who skates very well for his size. He’s not a tremendous offensive player, but Gauthier can make plays with the puck. Has 2nd line potential scoring-wise."

With t...

Acquiring Stastny Makes Too Much Sense For Leafs

If Paul Stastny is being shopped at the NHL Entry Draft on Sunday, general manager Dave Nonis must do everything in his power to acquire the 27-year-old.

With breaking news of Vincent Lecavalier being bought out by the Tampa Bay Lightning, some wonder if the Leafs should throw all their eggs in that basket. While Lecavalier is productive, notching 81 points in his last 103 games, he’s 33 years old and will likely have upwards of 10 teams interested in his services. Is Nonis prepared to enter a bidding war and potentially give out a long-term contract for an aging player? He has made it clear that his vision for the Leafs is to import young players that can make an impact now b...

Why Trading Phaneuf Would Be A Mistake

Darren Dreger, who is a second cousin of Dave Nonis by the way, wrote on Twitter yesterday that Dion Phaneuf may be available on the trade market.

Some may view this as good news if they're of the opinion that Phaneuf is one-dimensional and is only good for hits. Those people would be wrong, and here's why:

Phaneuf did indeed have an inconsistent 2012-13 campaign, but he also played the toughest minutes of his career, and more so than any other defenseman in the NHL. According to behindthenet.ca, Phaneuf's Corsi QoC (quality of competition) rating was a ridiculous 3.175 at even-strength. To put that in perspective, the player with the second toughest mi...

Do the Leafs Need Bernier?

Dave Nonis has made his first big splash as general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs… by relinquishing assets on a non-issue.

When training camp kicks off in Toronto it will be James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier battling for the starting goaltender’s role. Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin will report to the Los Angeles Kings, who also acquired a second-round pick in either 2014 or 2015 in the deal.

The decision is an odd one from the Leafs’ perspective, as Reimer is coming off a season in which he recorded a .924 save percentage in 33 games played, with a .923 SV% in seven playoff games. The 25-year-old has a career .915 SV% in 105 games, while Bernier, who tu...

No Room For Bozak in Leafs' future

*This article originally appeared on www.mapleleafscentral.com

“If the player wants to be here and we want him, my experience has been that generally we find a way to make it happen."

That quote is from general manager Dave Nonis on April 3 in regards to a possible Tyler Bozak extension.

It’s worrisome if you believe Bozak is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ weakest link among their top-nine centres. The statistics support that claim, as Bozak seems to excel at faceoffs and not much else. His defensive play is suspect and he’s generally a passenger on the top line considering the amount of ice-time he receives. He leads all Maple Leafs in time on ice...

Leafs Should Target Bouwmeester

*This article originally appeared at thehockeywriters.com/mapleleafscentral

If Dave Nonis plans on being active before the trade deadline on April 3, Jay Bouwmeester should be a primary target.

The 29-year-old comes with a hefty cap-hit at $6.68 million, which runs through next season, but he’s exactly what the Toronto Maple Leafs require: a first-pair defenseman capable of playing tough minutes.

Bouwmeester ranks third among NHL defensemen in Corsi QoC (quality of competition) at even strength, behind only Dion Phaneuf and Mike Weber.  He averages over 25 minutes of ice-time per game with over three of those minutes coming on the penalty kill. Acquiring a pla...

Why the Leafs Shouldn't Re-Sign Bozak

https://twitter.com/kevin_mcgran/status/310093153946451969

That tweet is from the Toronto Star’s Kevin McGran on Mar. 8 after Ryan Getzlaf re-signed with the Anaheim Ducks on an eight-year contract extension. It’s also a representation of the misconception that Tyler Bozak is a capable first-line centre.

It should be noted from the outset that Bozak is not to blame. It’s not his fault he’s been miscast as a top line player, and one certainly can’t fault him for doing his best in a role beyond his capabilities. There are enough underlying statistics to prove that Bozak is probably better-suited on the third-line (which we’ll get to), but it e...