Thursday Morning Leafs Round Table – Free Agency Edition

Thursday Morning Leafs Round Table – Free Agency Edition

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Chiarelli: Hey, Mike. Don’t look so worried. Schneider is probably an Andrew Raycroft anyways, right?

Gillis: F*** you, Peter.

Firstly, I just wanted to wish our American readers a safe and happy 4th of July.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with the date, it’s basically America’s Cinco de Mayo.

So, where to begin. I think the best way to describe what this off-season feels like is that nothing is happening while everything is happening. With the window of time allotted to negotiations winding down to its final 24 hours, the anticipation is deafening. It’s been four days since the draft and now that all involved have had some time to settle down and evaluate their portfolios, decisions will need to made on who stays, who goes, and who gets how much.

You almost gets the sense that despite the lack of trade activity, there is a bottle-neck of potential transactions just waiting to happen, all it needs is the right catalyst. Admittedly, some of the things we hoped that would happen eventually never came to fruition. For example, many of us were clamoring for Nonis to flex MLSE’s financial muscle and you can’t him for not trying. Lecavalier was one cap-circumventing move away from becoming a Maple Leaf.  The intention was there.

I know that most trade rumors, signings, extensions, and transactions have been debated and discussed ad nauseum. For this week’s Round Table, I thought I’d spare you the routine details and, instead, ask our writers some big-picture questions.

Grab some popcorn.

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Who were the biggest winners/losers at the Entry Draft?

“From the many mock drafts and prognosticators pre-draft, it has to be Buffalo.  I don’t know too much about the NHL draft because I stopped watching junior hockey, but everyone seems to agree that Buffalo absolutely killed at the draft.  They picked up four players I can name from reading prior to the draft, and several more I have read up on.  While all these players have their warts (what prospect doesn’t?), Buffalo seem to have aimed for upside and versatility.” -(@mORRganRielly)

“The biggest loser – to me – is a toss-up between the Canucks and the Oilers.  For the ‘Nucks, they offloaded a No. 1 goaltender in Cory Schneider to the New Jersey Devils for the 9th overall pick and proceeded to take Bo Horvat, passing over potential top-5 talent Valeri Nichushkin (the Dallas Stars selected him 10th overall).  Worse yet, GM Mike Gillis had the stones to lie to everyone saying that trading Schneider was always the plan.  This debacle continued Wednesday when reports surfaced suggesting that Schneider was traded for “off ice issues.”  While the goaltending fiasco rages on in Vancity, the Devils just solidified their nets for years.” -Michael Stephens (@MLHS_Mike)

“The biggest mind-boggle is Vancouver. Trading Cory Schneider for the 9th overall pick was just such a comically unexpected and strange move that it’s hard to fully process. This answer’s a bit unfair in that it uses a perspective bigger than “the draft,” but honestly, I just still can’t believe it. Listen – I’m from Rodney, I know Bo Horvat’s family, Bo Horvat is going to be a tremendously good player, and he was the best possible pick Vancouver could have made. I’m thrilled he went that high, and thrilled he’s staying in Canada. But the fact that Vancouver’s in the position to make that pick at all is just craziness.” -Matt Mistele (@TOTruculent)

“This might seem surprising, but I think one the biggest winner of this year’s draft are actually the LA Kings. Not having a first round pick, they made a bold and timely move, trading their 57th, 88th, and 96th picks to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for the 37th overall selection which they used to draft forward Valentin Zykov. 18 year old Zykov is a left wing out of St. Petersburg, Russia. The 5-11, 209-pounder played for Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) this past season. In 67 regular season games he recorded 75 points — including 40 goals — a plus-29 rating and 60 penalty minutes and is, in my mind, good enough to have been selected in the first round.” -Mislav Jantoljak (@Xterratu)

What, in your mind, explains the general lack of activity on the trade front?

“As always, it’s that first shoe to drop. In my mind, there are fewer teams out there in need of a goaltender so when the Devils actually made their coup, acquiring Schneider from the Canucks, it never sparked the avalanche of trades because that domino wasn’t the right domino to fall. As always, when teams start signing the “cream of the buyout crop” and UFAs things will start to pick up.” -Mislav

“Uncertainty. New rules, adjusted process, new timeline. Managers waiting until the end to retain leverage and see how other situations shake out.” -Matt

“I think Nonis made it pretty clear from the outset: the reduction of the salary cap for next season is the largest impediment to trades.  There’s the same number of holes for each team to fill, but this is the first time since the implementation of the salary cap that it has gone down.  Even with the Maple Leafs sitting on $19 million in cap space, that number realistically becomes less than seven million dollars when accounting for RFA re-signing. It’s hard to swing a trade when both teams want young cheap roster players and are offering pricy veteran contracts.” -Michael

“Personally, I think it’s as simple as General Managers being unreasonable and trying to navigate both the current salary cap as well as next year’s cap when it likely goes up.  In addition, people are still gauging the free-agent market.  I think after the market has been set, you will start seeing more moves.  Right now, General Managers are just being cautious.” -(@mORRganRielly)

Realistically, do you think the Leafs should/will acquire any of the ‘popular’ UFAs this summer?

“I don’t think they should acquire any of the marquee names available, since this free agent cohort is thin and declining in potential as July 5th nears.  With the acquisition of David Bolland and the pending re-signing of Nazem Kadri, the Leafs have two capable top 6 centres and top capable bottom 6 centres, so Derek Roy and Stephen Weiss become irrelevant.  Hopefully the shrinking cap and numerous RFAs left to re-sign will price the Leafs out of the market for 2014 compliance buyout candidate and good Toronto boy David Clarkson.” -Michael

“Well, Nathan Horton immediately springs to mind. That’s the “should or I want” – provided that the amount overpaid (and he would be) is still below the insanity limit. Realistically though, I want the Leafs to go after Rob Scuderi and, to a lesser extent, Stephen Weiss. They could also try to sign a more affordable UFA winger and then trade certain assets for Stastny or maybe even go for Valtteri Filppula. Oh the humanity!” -Mislav

“Well, I hope not.  I think it was Chris Johnson who said that the free agent frenzy of July 1, 2008 was an embarrassment.  That year set the table, or at least guided the league, into a lockout; just look at this pathetic list: http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?id=11353.  Commodore, Campbell, Hainsey, Orpik, Horcoff, Redden, Rolston, etc.  The list goes on.  It was just a brutal off-season.  If anything, that day was the precursor in which the fans could no longer trust their teams or the league to make coherent and responsible decisions.  This was just three years after the 2005 lockout.” -(@mORRganRielly)

“There’s a case to be made for signing or avoiding all of them. Let’s all be honest and admit that we want David Clarkson on this team, just absoluteley not at the dollars many are suggesting he’ll command. Probably the same situation with Horton, who apparently doesn’t even want to come here. It’s a pretty bad crop beyond that.” -Matt

Following the Bernier trade, will the Leafs acquire any more RFAs?

“If one fits a need and comes at the right price, maybe? At this point, I’d doubt it. RFAs tend to come with wickedly inflated price tags (I seem to be in the minority that think Bernier was a steal). I’m so anxious to see what Nonis does by this weekend that I’m sort of holding off on the prediction game.” -Matt

“If they do, it will be via trade.  You can bet bottom dollar that the Leafs won’t offer sheet any of the RFAs available.  Looking over the answers to the past three questions, it seems to me that the Leafs will mostly stand pat and hope for internal improvements as they compete for back-to-back playoff berths for the first time since 2004.” -Michael

“No.  I think the Leafs are going to play it safe at this point.  They aren’t a franchise ready to take the next step to contention, so I feel that this is another development year.  This year is much less important than recent years because we got to see what players can raise their game when it matters most.  Now, management is fine-tuning the system on the ice, down in the farm, and looking for ways to build on it.  In addition, we’ve already got several RFAs to sign – adding more without significant subtraction only further burdens the limited cap that we have.” -(@mORRganRielly)

“Not sure, am not willing to predict anything on that front because thing seem quite unpredictable, at least from where Nonis is sitting.” -Mislav

Any parting words for Mike Komisarek?

“As with any Leafs player, I’ll thank him for the time he spent in the blue and white, but looking into the future, considering all that had happened, I doubt I’ll remember him as Leafs player at the end of his hockey career. Good luck, Mike.” -Mislav

“Mike, by all accounts, was a tremendous person and teammate. I have no reason to personally dislike him, and from what I saw, his attitude was always a positive one – much to the benefit of those around him. Having said that, his professional tenure in Toronto was a complete disaster. He was paid a great deal of money to come here and do one thing very well, and was never able to do it to a level you could even call satisfactory. I have to believe more was going on behind the scenes than we were aware of. I wish him the best of luck, and hope he finds a role somewhere that suits everything he’s capable of bringing to the table.” -Matt

“I actually ran into Komisarek last summer in Toronto.  I didn’t speak to him, but I couldn’t help notice that he was smiling the entire time I caught a glimpse of him walking up and down Yonge.  Garret Sparks’ recent tweet about Komisarek should reaffirm what we all knew – Mike is a terrific teammate and an even better human being.  There’s always a future for those people who have compassion and empathy for others.  I wish him the best in his career.” -(@mORRganRielly)

“Thank you, Komi, for ruining people’s opinions of blonde dudes named Mike in the city of Toronto.  Our people many never overcome your actions.  But seriously, while your signing was an egregious error, you were a consummate professional throughout your tenure here.  You won’t be missed on the ice, but your philanthropic spirit will be.  Just do all of us in Toronto a favour and don’t have a career resurgence with a divisional rival.” -Michael

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Morning Links:

Fortune Magazine: Where did the hockey millions go? – Faceoff, Madoff.

Jason Botchford: Canucks shopping Edler despite NTCIs Gillis low-hanging fruit right now?

Elliott Friedman: Coyotes saga ends with team staying in Arizona - C’est dommage, mes amies…

Down Goes Brown: Free agency previewCheck out Vinny’s ‘Blue Steel’

Stumble Upon: NHL GM dartboardThis has to be from Holmgren’s front-office.

James Mirtle: Top unrestricted free agentsYour primer.

Backhand Shelf: The Quiet Room: Bergeron was a disaster - I guess ‘disaster’ is the new ‘zombie’.

436 comments
KingTon
KingTon

So I guess they couldn't find anyone to take him via a trade.

Reimocerous
Reimocerous

Must be a plan in place then and they needed the dollars freed up right now.

Area49th
Area49th

CapGeek @capgeek 54s

The Grabovski buyout costs $14.3M over eight years, or $1.79M per.

Lescott
Lescott

Bye bye Grabo. This place is going to go crazy now.

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

I, m hearing Briere to the Habs, that gives them the 6'4" centre they were looking for... when you combine him and Desharnais!

leafmealone
leafmealone

Wondering if the extended window should perhaps create less stupid contracts. As teams aren't as rushed to make a decision, and aren't forced to make a huge offer to ensure getting the player. I'm sure there will still be lots of bad contracts, but perhaps there will be less of them overall? 

king leary
king leary

"Long-time listener, first-time caller -- love the show."

interesting to see the effect of the extended 'courting window' in upcoming years, when the window's five days and the cap rises... Common sense to me says the extended window shopping favours the players, raising salaries/term, if incrementally -- given there is an extended time to shop and for GMs to counteroffer.

 In theory it might deter GMs from blowing their brains out with a massive first offer at 12:01 on free agency day to get the player they want, but otherwise seems to wholly favour players..

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

Baby Huey talking to Weiss, Ribero and Bozak, one after the other.

" I am telling you what I am telling the other 2 guys, 4M  a year for 4 years take it or leave it, first guy to get back to me plays for the Leafs"

Ensign
Ensign

Yo any word on who the leafs are talking to

Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

I am thinking that if Dallas doesn't get their 2nd line centre, there maybe a fit for Grabo with a Million $ taken back by the Leafs for the 1st year in exchange for Robidas or Daley.

We then run with Bozk or Weiss as our 1st liners and grab Clarkson and 4th liner UFA ex LA Kings Richardson.

JVR Weiss / Bozak Kessel

Lupul Kadri Clarkson

McClement Bolland Kulemin

Richardson Colborne Orr

McLaren

Pha9 Robidas

Gardiner Gunner

Granberg Franson

Fraser

Reims / Bernier

Whaddya think?

Cameron19
Cameron19

Here's a thought:  

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You all know I would never bash Kulemin and think he's a key piece of this team, but it's possible this is really our last chance to cash in on him this summer.  I believe other teams are of the opinion that he can be highly effective at both ends of the rink, and are probably willing to disregard his offensive troubles more willingly than the Leafs' fan base is.

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After this season, he'll be UFA, and if we're keeping him beyond that point, we're pretty much married to him, I think. He will become our Dan Cleary type guy - and there's nothing wrong with that.  But at this particular moment, I think there's still the opportunity to put a package together around him, and perhaps go after a star winger instead - something worth looking into considering Lupul (as much as we all love him) has been unfortunate in the injury department, and is at the older end of our age range.  Which is to say, 2-3 years from now, we may wish we had a younger version of Lupul.

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Joe Colborne, while not nearly as far along in his contract status, is in a similar situation.  Right now, he's still brimming with potential. He's a big 2-way C with nice hands and improving board play to go along with above average vision. He still has 2C potential that could be easily realized in the right situation. However, if he plays out this season, and doesn't progress, his value will plummet.

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Is now the time to consider packaging these two?

Bryan93
Bryan93

@Cameron19 Wow! I didnt think they would buy him out.  I would have liked to see him get 1 more year


Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@Great Dane He is a better player than Bozak, that's for sure, but he is older. Still I would take him over Bozak.

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@wiski  Been saying this for Months Andy, and Nonis was huddled up at the St lou table for a bit at the Draft.

Keep up Strickland, or continue reading here lol



Komas Taberle
Komas Taberle

@king leary Seems to me that the GMs do this anyway, why do people sign at 12 Noon if their agents have not talked to GMs?

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@king leary  Welcome to the Jungle, please remember this show is Rated R, and may contain material sensitive to some viewers



LeafsGuru
LeafsGuru

@Cameron19 I think Franson leaves faster then kuli and Lupul he has more worth

Ze_theLeafsFan
Ze_theLeafsFan

@Cameron19 but seriously I would not be opposed to package them both. But it depends on the return 

Jordan29
Jordan29

Vancouver could use both. Not sure what would come back now with Edler off the table

king leary
king leary

@Greg Fenton @leafmealone 


That's my thought -- leafmealone is right that it would probably help a one-on-one negotiation, but if teams are clamouring a player, someone else wil just step up to the 'stupid' plate.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Mind Bomb @wiski I think it was more likely Nonis was trying to get someone cheaper from him (ie. Perron, Berglund, Stewart, Polak, Jackman). 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@dlb eh @Cameron19 

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I think Kulemin + Colborne gets you a significant player.  I think Kulemin + Colborne + 1st is probably one of the better packages that gets moved for star players. 

Bryan93
Bryan93

@wiski @Cameron19 @Mind Bomb Would we be willing to give up two 1sts, a 2nd and 3rd to offer sheet him though??  A trade would have to include either Gardiner or Reilly

Jordan29
Jordan29

Oh Ok so it's 1 Atlantic time then. Thanks you peoples

Mind Bomb
Mind Bomb

@Jordan29 Hahha you a Boilermaker or a Pipe fitter ? , you sound like some of my Friends :)


Jordan29
Jordan29

I'm talking time exactly. I can't check the computer because I'm sleeping in a wheel barrow at work on lunch lol and I hate TSN mobile

Mattmark
Mattmark

@Cameron19 @Mattmark So if we don't get Clarkson (and I don't think we will, sorry), how do you see our lines shaping up for the fall?  Do you see a place for Orr on the fourth line?  I'd prefer McClement as a fighter.

DWCMLHS
DWCMLHS

Yandle is another offensive Dman. We can't package Gunnar+ for him. Gunnar is our only defensive Dman with top-4 ability.

Mattmark
Mattmark

@Cameron19 @Mattmark What about Ashton?  He hasn't stood out in the games I've seen him play for the Marlies, but in his short stint with Leafs I thought his board play was excellent.

Mattmark
Mattmark

P.S.  Re: D'Amigo.  Have you written off Hamilton?

Mattmark
Mattmark

@Cameron19 @Mattmark @Ze_theLeafsFan @dlb eh I agree in every particular... but you may have noticed on draft day quite a few fine young players who aren't coming to us, and a room full of GMs who apparently know their business (well, maybe not Gillis) and are perfectly serious about upgrading their own teams, not ours.  It's natural to focus on our personnel and circumstances, but everything is contextual and if we fail to take into account the personnel our guys have to confront whenever they take the ice, any unrealistic optimism on our part can suffer traumatic revision (sometimes of the eighteen-wheeler type) very quickly.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Greg Fenton @Cameron19 @dlb eh No, I tried to convince you that it was a very real possibility.  I was right, obviously, since the league actually blocked such a trade from occurring. 

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Do us all a favor, and just ignore the site altogether. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Mattmark @Cameron19 @Ze_theLeafsFan @dlb eh 

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Yea, goaltending is better and we have a real checking line now of McClement - Bolland - Kulemin.  I really believe D'Amigo will join that group soon enough, too.  I think he's really under-rated as a prospect. 

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Really, I think the only need for this franchise long-term, is  a young top-six center.  We could use more size on the wings, too, and we may want to have a Lupul replacement in the wings, but those things are easier to sort out. 

Mattmark
Mattmark

@Cameron19 @Mattmark @Ze_theLeafsFan @dlb eh Goaltending situation is looking up, too.  We put eighteen pucks behind Rask in the playoffs, so once we stabilize the back end we're going to be tougher to beat than many people probably suppose.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Greg Fenton @Cameron19 @dlb eh Glencross is turning 31 and gets more minutes than he deserves on an awful team. Obviously we aren't trading a 26 and 23 year old for a guy leaving his prime.

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I would look more at a guy like Loui Eriksson, who is a tier below being a star, and has been rumored on the block.  But seriously Greg, if you're only going to respond with comments that are going to put the conversation into defense mode for me by ripping our players, I'm not interested in it. 

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Mattmark @Cameron19 @Ze_theLeafsFan @dlb eh Yep, exactly.  My vision for our defense is simply to swap Rielly in for Liles, and Granberg in for O'Byrne and let the unit we have develop, eventually pushing Fraser down into the 7D spot. Sure, go get a Scuderi to help Gunnar and Gardiner with the minutes next to Phaneuf, but otherwise, leave it as is. 

Mattmark
Mattmark

@Cameron19 @Ze_theLeafsFan @dlb eh Why does no-one else here seem to understand that it takes time for defensive units to develop cohesion?  History confirms it.  Tinkering with your defensive personnel every year is a guarantee that will never happen.

Let Franson go and we'll have occasion to increasingly regret it every season for the next ten years.

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Jordan29 Yandle worries me.  Despite playing 22 minutes a night, he faces mostly secondary and tertiary quality of competition - much like Franson.  There's a reason his name is the one that has become expendable from that D corps. Doubt he could handle the quality of minutes needed to play with Phaneuf. 

Jordan29
Jordan29

Your getting the rath of the Greg troll right now lol

Jordan29
Jordan29

Makes sense. I wonder if yandle is still available. Would be nice

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Phaneuf-Yandle

Gardiner-Franson

Fraser/Blacker-Liles

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Greg Fenton @Cameron19 @dlb eh lol, Please, just don't respond if you're going to post nonsense, Greg. I'm done being trolled by you.  Teams package lower roster players for  top six forwards all the time.  No one in their right mind would trade Kulemin plus Colborne for Glencross. 


Cameron19
Cameron19

@Jordan29 Don't think they'd even want Gunnarsson - would prefer the salary flexibility of Colborne or Percy.  Already spending lots on their D and nothing on forwards. 

Jordan29
Jordan29

Kulemin+Gunnarsson+2nd

FOR

Yandle

Cameron19
Cameron19

@Ze_theLeafsFan @Cameron19 @dlb eh I really don't think we should trade for a D. I would look at short term solutions there - ie. Scuderi, Ference.  Our D is set if we just leave it to develop. With Phaneuf, Rielly, Gardiner, Franson, Gunnar, Granberg, we will be elite in 3 years.  Phaneuf will be right int he middle of his prime years, Gunnar right behind him, and Franson just entering his - and Gardiner will be pretty experienced by then.

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Adding someone will just mean more movement for forwards later.