Weekend Odds and Ends

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    Less than 24 hours after the Leafs season officially ended with a win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night, the fans and media have already turned their attention to two important dates: June 26th, the date of the NHL Entry Draft, and July 1st, when free agent frenzy takes off. Just for discussion’s sake, here are a few interesting scenarios currently being tossed various news outlets today:

    The first is courtesy of Yahoo:

    “RW Chris Neil, who is two penalty minutes shy of hitting the 1,300 mark
    for his career, is expected to be pursued by the Toronto Maple Leafs if
    he isn’t signed by the Senators before he becomes an unrestricted free
    agent July 1.”

    Now that would certainly add some fuel to the fire that is the Battle of Ontario, wouldn’t it? Most of the hockey experts had predicted that Neil would be shipped off on trade deadline day because Murray had grown weay of his antics, declining numbers, and contractual demands. It’s believed that Neil was looking for upwards of $1.5M per season, generous demands from a 3 goal scorer. That said, perhaps a change of scenery would help Chris regain his form of 3 seasons ago when he chipped in 16 goals, 200+ penalty minutes, and played with the physicality and energy that made him a fan favorite in Ottawa. At only 29 years of age, he may be an intriguing option for Brian Burke to look at in order to add some toughness to his bottom six group.

    The other interesting scenario comes courtesy of the Toronto Sun:

    “Burke is expected to take a run at the top overall pick (and John
    Tavares) by attempting to trade up. His trump card? The organization
    has the monetary resources to spice up a deal, especially with a
    financially strapped team.

    For example, if the Tampa Bay Lightning ended up with the top
    pick, the Leafs could offer their first- and second- round picks and be
    willing to relieve the Lightning of Ryan Malone’s whopping contract.
    Malone signed a seven-year, $31.5-million deal last summer, a contract
    that would scare off most teams.”

    Now this is just speculation on Mike’s part, but he may not be too far off base. In the local Tampa paper, Lawton floated the notion of perhaps dealing away his (currently) 2nd overall pick if it could improve the team right now, while not jeopardizing the future. Before we start dreaming up Kaberle proposals, here are Lawton’s exact words: “We’re not going to trade the first pick for a 30-year-old defenseman”. Talk about a pre-emptive strike. But back to the Sun’s proposed scenario. It would certainly be a hefty price to pay: two 2nd round picks, along with the burden of a $4.5M contract for the next 6 years to move up 5 spots. With the uncertainty of the cap situation over the next few seasons, I’d personally decline. I don’t think the gap between Cowen and Hedman would be enough for me to take that chance.

    What about you guys? Do you target Chris Neil? And if so, at what price? What about the proposed Tampa-Toronto trade? Let’s hear your thoughts.

    Always a pleasure,

    Alex Tran

    [email protected]

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