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Murray looks to be leader among blueliners.

Defenceman Ryan Murray seems ready to be the first defenceman picked in the draft.

Day 5:  Ryan Murray, D Everett Silvertips. 2nd NA.

The 2012 draft is top heavy with talented forwards but Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray figures to be the first blueliner to warrant a pick.

Still, the pick is in flux. With a bevy of young forwards, the Edmonton Oilers, owners of the first overall pick,  may want to drop a place or two and emerge with Murray.

A six-foot-defenceman and captain with the (WHL’s) Everett Silvertips, Murray is an ...

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Is Brendan Gaunce a diamond in the rough…or in Belleville?

Belleville Bull centreman Brendan Gaunce brings a solid two-way game.

Day 4: Brendan Gaunce, Belleville Bulls, C. 13th NA

A strong two-way player, Brendan Gaunce brings excellent size (6’2”, 215 pounds) and two-way instincts to the draft table.

A graduate of the Markham Waxers and the second overall pick in the 2010 OHL draft, Gaunce’s style was built with the NHL in mind.

“I think from a young age I was taught by all my coaches that to play in the NHL you have to play defence first,” he said. “I think that’s ...

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Reinhart brings a big body and finesse skills to blue line.

GriffinReinhart

Day 3: Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oil Kings, Defence. 10th NA

There are a few similarities between Griffin Reinhart and his father, Paul, an NHL defenceman who skated for 11 seasons in Atlanta, Calgary and Vancouver.

Both are defencemen. Paul was a linchpin rearguard who was often moved up to forward to make use of his offensive gifts.

Though not as accomplished as his dad on the offensive end, Griffin scored a dozen goals and added 24 assists in the regular season for the Oil Kings.

Griffin Reinhart is a towering shutdown defenceman with ...

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Filip Forsberg’s upside makes him one sweet Swede.

Filip Forsberg isn't related to Peter but he has big-game potential.

With the NHL entry draft set for June 22, mapleleafs.com is profiling ten players to watch. The Maple Leafs figure to enter the draft with the fifth choice.

Day Two:

Filip Forsberg. Leksand C-LW. 1 European.

A six-two forward, the 17-year-old Forsberg is a riveting prospect who should be among the top five picks.

When competing against players closer to his age at the Ivan Hlinka World Under-18 championships, Forsberg scored four times and added two assists in six games.

The youngest player on ...

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Sting centreman most often linked to Leafs

What kind of shadow will Alex Galchenyuk cast on the NHL entry draft, June 22?

The NHL entry draft is set for June 22-23 with the Maple Leafs, at this writing at least, holding the number five position. The Leafs haven’t enjoyed a higher position in the draft since they selected Scott Thornton third 23 years ago.

This is the first in a series of 10 player profiles, one a day, leading up to the draft weekend.

First off, the player most often associated with the Maple Leafs, Alex Galchenyuk.

Day One:

Alex Galchenyuk, ...

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June hockey bears unexpected treasures.

 

By June Tim Horton would have been back at Conn Smythe's quarry or maybe moonlighting at a little coffee shop he had started in Hamilton.

The furnace that is summer waits just over the horizon but your ice scraper might still be in the trunk or only recently banished to the garage.

June is the big payoff. It purges the memory of interminable winter. Each breath brings fresh possibilities.

Saturday, the city hosts its second June professional hockey game with the Norfolk Admirals seeking to oust the Toronto Marlies in Game 4.

Eight ...

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Marlies coaching precinct home to good cop/bad cop.

The Marlies' coaching staff has something in common with how the Montreal Canadiens harvested the Rocket's red glare.

In the early 1950s, a generation before the advent of the assistant coach, a rough-hewed winger named Bert Olmstead would sit on the Montreal Canadiens bench beside Maurice Richard.

His job was to light the Rocket’s fuse.

“I’d always know how to get to Rock. If Irvin (Habs coach Dick Irvin) nodded, I’d get on him. If he didn’t, I’d leave him alone,” Olmstead told me 15 years ago.

When the cue was given, Olmstead ...

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Prospect hails from town whose citizens feel no pain.

This is the main street of Petter Granberg's hometown. I think the picture was taken in April.

Petter Granberg, the latest Leafs signee, hails from Gallivare, Sweden. Take a look. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/G%C3%A4llivare

The Leafs signed Granberg to a three-year entry-level contract this week. He’s a nice kid, just 19 and his season included a trip to the final of the Swedish Elite League and a solid performance on the blueline as Sweden won this year’s World Juniors.

Gallivare is as the crow flies, about 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. If you ...

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Tricks of the trade at combine: speak slowly, don’t vomit.

Russian star Nail Yakupov says he has no interest in playing in the KHL.

Don’t be surprised by a question.

Don’t puke.

For 100 of the best 18-year-old hockey players at the NHL Scouting Combine, the goals are pretty straightforward.

The three-day-event kicked off Thursday at a Toronto airport hotel. The Leafs will bring the fifth overall selection to the entry draft in Pittsburgh, June 22-23.

For the players, the combine can be numbingly repetitive. They are introduced to team officials who pepper them with questions. It’s not unlike a job interview.

“Actually, the questions ...

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Kill or be killed: an essay on the Marlies power play.

 

When professional hockey was making its first steps into Britain in the 1980s, one local operator, strapped for the official parlance, began calling the penalty box “the bin of woe.”

Leave it to the English to grasp the concept so viscerally. No wonder they invented the language.

In real life, isolation is a consequence of a lapse in judgment.  A wayward colt is brutally excised from the herd by the boss mare. A disobedient child is put in the corner.

The incarceration model is alive and well in Canada’s national game. Hockey is ...

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