It was something that immediately popped into my head when it was announced that the Ponikarovsky to Nashville rumors were untrue and Antropov was dealt to the Rangers minutes later â€“ did Antropov do for the Leafs what Sundin never would? The Leafs were only looking at a pick for Moore and a 4th rounder they purchased from the Lightning. The deadline was looming over their heads and off went Antropov and the remainder of his one year deal.
Antropov then arrived in New York and went on to post an additional 13 points for his new club and cap off the year with a 28 goal performance and 59 points â€“ good enough for the highest point total on the Rangers club. In the playoffs, when Avery and Gomez were not performing at their peak, Antropov was there. Despite finishing the playoffs with a -1, his two goals equaled the highest on the team, and his 16 hits proved that he does enjoy the physical game.
He had a few stretches in which he did not score a single goal, nor put up a few points for the Leafs this past season, but nothing was denying his true heart for the game and, perhaps more importantly, for the Leafs. Claimed â€œthe only top 6 forward on the teamâ€ at the start of the year, that was more than accurate, and with the Leafs having nearly 20 million to spend this team, assuming theyâ€™d move some bodies at the draft as well, would they consider bringing big Nik back and reunite him with Ponikarovsky?
Both Alexei and Nik posted career highs last season in goals, assists, and points. With his age sitting at 29, Antropov is not outside of the ball-park number discussed by the Maple Leafs front office last season on free agents they would not pursue. The two loved the city of Toronto so much that they officially became Canadian citizens two years ago.
“It feels good to hear people say ‘Wow youâ€™re one of us,’ ” said Ponikarovsky. Antropov joked beside him that â€œhe knew who the president of Canada wasâ€.
So it is interesting to see what Burke will do concerning Antropov. Will he return to wear the blue and white next season after career highs for the city and team he loves, or will his legacy for the Leafs conclude as a second round pick for a former first? After watching Antropov from the start of his career to the player he has aggressively become today, I say bring him back.
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Micheal A. Aldred