Monday, September 03, 2007

Bell To Sit Out

Well, the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to live without one of their off-season for an indefinite period of time. Centre, Mark Bell, fresh off his conviction from his hit-and-run in California and his jail sentence that will come into effect after the coming season, will now have to sit out indefinitely thanks to the NHL's substance abuse program. The news came off the wire on Monday night that he'll sit out for an indefinite period of time, which will be determined by doctors in their abuse program.

Bell, acquired with Toskala, only scored 11 goals in 71 games last season... a clear drop in production from the two seasons previous. He did come to Toronto with all this baggage, but now that he is suspended by the league's program, his salary will not count against the team for the time he isn't paid. Bell is scheduled to make $2 million this season, but will not see all of it, as it's unlikely that he'll start the season, with training camp less than 2 weeks away.

Alex PonikarovskyMats SundinJason Blake
Alex SteenKyle WellwoodDarcy Tucker
Bates BattagliaMatt StajanNikolai Antropov
Chad KilgerJon PohlBoyd Devereaux

Mark Bell
Tomas KaberleBryan McCabe
Pavel KubinaCarlo Colaiacovo
Hal GillIan White
Vesa Toskala
Andrew Raycroft

The Leafs are looking at building from the net outwards. With Toskala and Raycroft looking to fill the net all season (so far) and the top six defensemen are becoming a great talented bunch. The real question for the Leafs, in my opinion, will be the talent up front.

Will Jason Blake be able to score 40 goals with Mats Sundin? What about Wellwood and Stajan? Will they be capable second and third centres for the team? If the Leafs are going to succeed, they will need some production from a different guy every night, since this core group of players have not been the most consistent in the past few years.

Blake could be the cornerstone of this offense. If he scores like his numbers suggest, it will take a lot of pressure off those second and third lines.

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