With all the focus on the trade deadline the past few weeks, some minor moves by the Toronto Maple Leafs organization — namely with the AHL Marlies — have gone relatively unnoticed.
Mark Bell is no longer a Leaf, Boyd Devereaux is back in the NHL, and Bates Battaglia remains with the Marlies.
Mark Bell picked up on Re-Entry Waivers by the New York Rangers
So, who was surprised by this move?
Bell never was able to find his game in San Jose, so it stood to reason that he had little chance in Toronto when Ron Wilson took over behind the bench.Â Â Bell had never developed to beyond a 3rd or 4th line checking winger (last season he looked more like the latter), and at 2.5 million a trade suitor was going to be very difficult to find.
Now, I’ve always liked Bell, and I believe he could still be an effective player in this league, but only at a price tag equivalent to his role. Â It seems the New York Rangers believe this as well, and having to pay only half of his pro-rated remaining salary (about 650k, meaning NYR pays only 325k), they are effectively getting a 4th line checker for less than the league minimum.
Whether or not Bell gets his chance at the NHL level again remains to be seen.Â Â Certainly, he will have a better chance with the Rangers than the Leafs, who it appears had all but given up on him.Â Â Personally, I hope that he does get his shot; in the proper role (4th line or 13th forward), and with the proper expectations, he can still be a useful player on many teams.Â Â Here’s wishing him all the best in the future.
Boyd Devereaux back with the Leafs
This move should be pleasing to all Leaf fans.Â Â It appeared as though Devereaux was recalled for the same reason as Mark Bell:Â to see if there was any interest on the re-entry wire.Â Â Â However, he was not picked up, and as a result has been able to appear in 3 games so far, hopefully more.
Devereaux is one of those players that you just can’t help but like.Â Â Although he never did develop into the offensive force he was projected to be, he swallowed his pride and re-dedicated himself to learning the defensive side of the game, building a solid career as an energy player in the process.Â Â This past season, he willingly accepted his demotion to the minors – no small thing for a player with over a decade of NHL experience.Â He has been a terrific leader for the team, and his recent promotion back to the NHL – regardless of the circumstances – is his just reward for being a loyal soldier for the organization.
Devereaux can still be an impact player in the NHL, as a penalty killer and versatile defensive wizard who plays all three forward positions.Â Â He is the ideal 13th forward, a player who can still have a positive impact spelling injured forwards and guys who simply need a night off.Â Â Nobody should be too upset if this character player, class act, and tremendous example to the young players remains with the Leafs through the trade deadline.
Bates Battaglia remains in the AHL
Will Bates Battaglia be next on the re-entry wire?Â Â I personally doubt it, since he has now been an NHL regular in only one season since the lockout (82 games in 06-07, 13 games in 07-08).Â Â Bates has always been a team player, and similar to Devereaux he never did complain about being sent to the minors.Â He has found some success at the AHL level, but will that generate enough interest for him to be picked up on re-entry waivers?Â Or are the Leafs better off to simply let his contract run out in the AHL?
My guess is the latter.Â Â Battaglia is 33, which is the point at which players begin to slow down.Â Â While he has previously been effective in the grinder’s role at the NHL level, he is ultimately a replaceable player, and many teams will lean towards giving their own prospects a shot at that role, before an NHL veteran who hasn’t played at that level in two seasons (and four of the past five).Â Â Â Leaf fans should be content to hold onto Battaglia, as he has been an important piece of the Marlies’ puzzle this season both on and off the ice.Â Â The leadership and experience he brings to the young AHL team far outweigh any contributions he would make on NHL ice.Â Â And that’s not a knock on him either – Bates has future head coach written all over him.
Toronto Marlies website
Anyone checked out the Marlies’ new online look lately?Â Â Check it out at http://www.torontomarlies.com.Â Click past the splash page to enter the main site and — is that blood spatter on the page?