Leafs Patchwork: Did he really just say Alex Tanguay?

Leafs Patchwork: Did he really just say Alex Tanguay?

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Call it patchwork, a desperation move, whatever you like. But there’s a very real chance that over this summer, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be able to acquire Brad Richards, Jeff Carter, Paul Stastny, Steve Stamkos, Zach Parise, or any other name people decide to throw out there in the next few weeks.

Of course they could nab one of the names above, who knows? But it’s not far-fetched to think that Burke may have to employ a “Plan B” if he doesn’t land a prized free agent or trade target.

With everyone scrambling for the Leafs to bring a top line center into the fold, it simply may not happen. And while prospects are starting to accumulate in the Leafs’ system, the likes of Joe Colborne or Nazem Kadri surely aren’t ready to step in and contribute 60-70 points in an NHL season.

What the Leafs want, ideally, is a center to pass the puck to Phil Kessel; it’s really as simple as that. But if that isn’t possible, how about a winger who passes better than most centers?

I’m going to say it. No going back on it now. Alex Tanguay.

I can actually feel your anger as you read those two words. Because for some reason, 31 is too old and everyone hates Tanguay due to a couple seasons where he didn’t produce big numbers. So for that reason, I’ll try to argue both sides of the coin here and take some of the legwork out of the whole debate for people who will flip over the idea of Tanguay in blue and white.

Let me be clear, I’m not a “Please sign Alex Tanguay” activist. I could really care less if he re-signs in Calgary, or whether he hits the open market. But I will say this: 31 is not old, Tanguay is a good hockey player, and he’s better than a lot of players in the Leafs lineup. In fact, he outscored every player on the Leafs roster this past season.

At 1.7 million dollars, the Flames lucked in to Tanguay having an “on year” where he accumulated 69 points, including 47 assists – tying him with Nicklas Backstrom of Washington for helpers. That assist total actually bests players like Joe Pavelski, Mike Richards, Patrick Kane and Steven Stamkos, to name a few.

For all of these reasons, Tanguay will look for a raise. And the Flames aren’t exactly in the position to hand it to him. Jay Feaster has expressed that he wishes to keep Tanguay around, but it’s going to be tough.

I’m quite aware that if Burke can land another major player through trade or free agency, this Tanguay argument goes away immediately. Again, this guy is an option, not a Unicorn.

But I can’t help wondering if the chemistry Tanguay has developed with a goal scorer like Iginla can translate into him setting up Kessel for a year or two. The Leafs’ current roster is still in no shape to contend for a playoff spot, let alone a Cup. And if Burke wants this postseason drought to end next season, he needs to bring in some help. Even if it’s only temporary.

“Why sacrifice the long-term future for a bum like Tanguay?”

Another prime argument for leaving Tanguay alone would be that he takes away ice time from younger kids ready to develop. That’s fine. While Kadri and Colborne rack up 20-30 points apiece for the Leafs while they cling to twelfth place, I’ll gladly sit back and wait for a decent draft pick in 2012. But is that what Burke, and even more so, Ron Wilson, want for the club? More losing?

I really can’t hit home the fact that I’m not exactly gung-ho over Tanguay signing with the Leafs, without sounding like a broken record.

Much like the rest of the names being thrown around (most of an even higher tier) this guy may never become available. But I do believe he’s at least worth having in the discussion.

Tanguay is a pass first type of player, and he’s shown that with 20 powerplay points for the Flames this past season – 17 of which came by way of assists. But those twenty points with the extra man represent a better total than Anze Kopitar (18), Jeff Carter (17), Plekanec (18), Stastny (19) and Giroux (19), albeit marginally. But either way, you get the point – the guy is alright.

I suppose the question that eventually has to be asked, and answered, is what type of money is Tanguay looking for? And since I’ve probably written enough about him, I’ll let you decide.

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