We're officially two months and one-third of the way into the 2008-09 season. Those two milestones, combined with my inability to think of anything interesting to write about this week, seem like an excellent opportunity to look back on some pre-season predictions.
So let's travel back to my 10 Random Leafs predictions, as posted on Pension Plan Puppets. These were posted on October 8, one day before the Leafs opened their regular season.
Do I actually know what I'm talking about when looking ahead to the future instead of back to 1993? Let's see how I did.
Ryan Hollweg will end a 17-year streak of Leaf fans loving their enforcersThe verdict (so far): This one was almost too easy. Hollweg already had six losing fights and one suspension under his belt from the pre-season, so predicting that he'd be useless wasn't difficult. And while he's managed to keep his nose
For the first time since Kevin Maguire in 1991, the Leafs' only enforcer will be a designated punching bag who'll be ready and willing but not especially able. It won't take long for Leaf fans to get tired of his nightly Kimbo Slice impression.
So yes, I got this one right... but so did everyone else who was paying attention. Also, I'm deeply disappointed that "Kimbo Hollweg" never caught on.
Jeff Finger will be a media favorite by NovemberThe verdict (so far): OK, so I said November and it's happening in December instead. Factor in the time Finger has missed due to injury, and we're right on schedule.
The anti-Finger backlash is probably the most predictable element of the new season. But the flip side is that it won't take long for folks to realize that while he's not worth $3.5M, he's also not terrible. And that will lead to an emerging storyline of "Jeff Finger, so over-rated he's under-rated!"
That said, the Finger fan backlash was never really as bad as I expected. Maybe missing the first few games will turn out to be a blessing.
We're going to hear about Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker and especially Kyle Wellwood all year longThe verdict (so far): Tucker and McCabe haven't done much. Wellwood was hot early and we was saw the predictable "Leafs let one get away" stories, especially around the time of the Canucks game. But even those died down once Fatty McCrunchandmunch cooled off slightly.
The same media that dogged them and worked to drive them out of town will breathlessly report on every goal these guys score all year long.
Bryan McCabe will waive his no-trade clause to go to allow the Panthers to deal him to a contender at the deadlineThe verdict (so far): Too soon to tell, of course, but this one is looking good. With the Panthers struggling to stay at .500 and rumors of an imminent Bowmeester trade, the Panthers should be selling at the deadline. And now that McCabe BFF (and main reason for agreeing to go to Florida in the first place) Wade Belak has been dispatched, McCabe will likely agree to move.
Admit it, you hadn't thought of it but you're already nodding your head, aren't you?
Damien Cox will find a way to turn that into a knock against Cliff Fletcher, by the way.
Mats Sundin's return to the ACC will be a letdownThe verdict (so far): It looks like I may be off by two weeks on the timing, but Mats is apparently ready to cherry-pick away. I stand by my prediction that the ACC crowd won't know what to do when he returns as a visitor.
Yes, he's coming back. And when he finally gets around to cherry-picking a front-runner to join some time after Christmas, the hockey world will circle the date of his return to Toronto as a visitor.
Two, and only two, of Jiri Tlusty, Nikolai Kulemin, Alex Steen, Jonas Frogren and Anton Stralman will take their game to the next levelThe verdict (so far): Of the guys listed, only Kulemin has been a pleasant surprise. Steen is gone, Tlusty was a bust, Stralman has been iffy and Frogren was just OK when healthy.
And no, I don't know which two. But the truth is, if two guys from the list above can elevate their games to breakout status then that's pretty good.
On the other hand, I somehow managed to leave Grabovski off my list of promising young players. If I hadn't had that brain cramp, I'd be looking good on this one.
Carlo Colaiacovo will be one of the best stories of the seasonThe verdict (so far): He was hurt, and benched, and then traded, so I can shrug this prediction off as not being technically proven wrong.
(The best thing about this prediction: in the 90% likelihood that he does get hurt, I can shrug this prediction off as not being technically proven wrong.)
Jason Blake will be good this yearThe verdict (so far): My god, I am a stupid, stupid man. Why does anyone even read this blog? More importantly, with so few functioning brain cells, how do I manage to feed myself?
I know, I know. I've been as hard on Blake as anyone. But this year, Blake looks sharp. Here's betting that he puts together a decent year -- let's say 25 goals.
Vesa Toskala will be dealt at the deadlineThe verdict (so far): Sadly, this one looks good. A standout season by Toskala was the one and only way the Leafs could make a playoff run this year, and he hasn't come close to delivering.
... deep down we all know Toskala is somewhat over-rated (if he's really a top ten goalie how come you can think of 15 guys better than him?)
Two months ago, you rarely heard Toskala mentioned as trade bait. Now, everyone assumes he's as good as gone... if the Leafs can find a taker.
Wendel Clark Night will be the highlight of the seasonThe verdict (so far): Wow, I nailed that one.
It will also result in approximately 100 posts on Down Goes Brown in the weeks leading up to the big night.
The bottom line: I nailed a few easy ones, was reasonably accurate on few of the reaches, and still expect to be proven right on the McCabe trade prediction which I didn't see anyone else make. On the other hand, Colaiacovo let me down and the Blake prediction was just awful.
Overall, I give myself a B-.