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Ulmer's Thoughts On Savard, Draft & More

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs

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A man I long admired, the talented sportswriter Cam Cole used to occasionally devote his column to shorter bites entitled ‘Ideas That Might Grow up To Be Columns.’

Cam’s brilliant ruminations were long enough to fill the King James Bible. His favourite trick was to deliver an essay on one topic and then finish with the words, “but I digress.”

It is the spirit of my friend Cam that I give you my version of Ideas That Grow Up to Be Columns.

How far reaching was Matt Cooke’s headshot on Marc Savard? Well, with the Bruins trading Dennis Wideman to Florida in a deal for Nathan Horton and the impending arrival of either Tyler Seguin or Taylor Hall in the draft, the 32-year-old Savard has been linked to the Leafs.

The Bruins need a defenceman. Tomas Kaberle is in play. The Bruins have been after him for years.

Problem is, Savard missed the last 18 games of the season and six playoff games because of the concussion inflicted by Cooke. When Savard came back he had only one goal in seven post-season games.  Savard suffered concussions in 2001, 2002 and 2004 and doctors say there is often a spiraling amount of damage when the concussions are piled on top of one another. Factor in the remaining $25.5 million on a contract that will take Savard to the age of 36 and you get a prohibitive longshot for the Maple Leafs.

And what of Cooke? He has agreed to a new three-year-deal with Pittsburgh…

If he is available, the Leafs should select Brock Beukeboom, a towering Soo Greyhound defender whose dad was NHL defenceman Jeff Beukeboom. I also like St. Mike’s forward Devante Smith-Pelly and Niagara forward Freddie Hamilton…

The NHL Awards go tonight from Las Vegas. I see Alexander Ovechkin, who scored 50 goals in 72 games as the winner of his third straight Hart Trophy thanks to a mix of charisma and statistical dominance.

Give the Norris to the Hawks’ Duncan Keith who led the league in minutes and garnered 69 points along the way. Six-foot-eight defenceman Tyler Myers is a slam dunk to win the Calder Trophy. Dave Tippet worked miracles in Phoenix and is richly deserving of the Jack Adams award while Phoenix netminder Ilya Bryzgalov is my choice for the Vezina thanks to a 2.29 goals against average and .920 save percentage.

The Selke should go to the Penguins’ Jordan Stall….

Any flickering thought of the Leafs making a bid for Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec ended when the veteran Czech re-signed with the Habs. Leafs GM Brian Burke has already stated he has no interest in signing Ilya Kovalchuk and the other marquee free agent, Patrick Marleau seems to have never been on the radar. That seems to leave support players, Matthew Lombardi, Raffi Torres as available. Friday’s draft looms as the go-to night for the Leafs…

There is little to believe the ongoing dispute between the Leafs and Russian winger Nikolai Kulemin has been anything but the usual posturing. Am I the only person who feels Kulemin would make an excellent checking centre? Yes, he is green in the face-off circle but he is a tireless skater who would churn through opposing pivots…

Here’s to the Hockey Hall of Fame enacting rule changes that speeded the entry of Angela James and Cammi Granato into the ranks of hockey’s greatest. To those of you upset that the women were chosen ahead of worthies with Leaf connections such as Pat Burns, Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk, my answer is get used to it. It’s the Hockey Hall of Fame, not the Men’s Hockey Hall of Fame or the NHL Hall of Fame.
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