New Year, New Beginnings

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Amid the memorable, record-setting event in Ann Arbor, Dave Nonis snuck in a trade with Carolina: The long-rumoured swap of bad contracts involving John Michael Liles and Tim Gleason.

First off, we’ve heard nothing but great things about John-Michael Liles the  person. The way he handled the demotion was in stark contrast to how, say, Tim Connolly appeared to respond to the same situation. Liles, according to Steve Spott, was much like his assistant coach and was quick to take many of the fledgling D on the team under his wing. The Safe School Network is a charity initiative Liles was involved with for his years in Toronto, and his exit tweet was unsurprisingly classy.

As a player I liked Liles and would have kept him around myself, but this has to be goodwill move in part, which is something this player deserves. The Hurricanes will get the puck mover they’re looking for and will save some money in the exchange as the structure of Liles’ deal was front loaded.

Gleason, like Liles, will be the second highest paid defenceman on the LeafsIt’s a shame for him he wasn’t traded here a few days earlier, as the Winter Classic took place in Gleason’s home state.

The Skinny

As JM Liles is another mobile, not particularly physical, left shot defenceman (Gleason is also left handed, but is comfortable on the right side), Randy Carlyle isn’t going to play him in addition to Rielly and Gardiner. The leash just wasn’t there for Liles. Carlyle was quick to staple JML to a press box seat after a bad game vs. Detroit. While he  looked good in the lineup the three or four games prior, he hasn’t shown enough to suggest he was anything more than a buyout candidate at this point. He also is not getting any younger at 33, whereas Gleason is 30.

The harsh but realistic take based on the current situation is that this transaction is a swap of a couple of buyout candidates after the season. This is a change of scenery opportunity for both. The contracts are essentially a wash, with just 25,000 more on Gleason’s AAV and the same term remaining (with an expiration at the end of the 2015-16 season). The second year of a potential Gleason buyout, though, is a little bit cheaper:

Tim Gleason Buyout

SEASONSALARYCAP HITBUYOUTSAVINGSBUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15$4500000$4000000$1333333$3166667$833333
2015-16$3500000$4000000$1333333$2166667$1833333
2016-17$0$0$1333333-$1333333$1333333
2017-18$0$0$1333333-$1333333$1333333

John Michael Liles Buyout

SEASONSALARYCAP HITBUYOUTSAVINGSBUYOUT CAP HIT
2014-15$4250000$3875000$1166667$3083333$791667
2015-16$2750000$3875000$1166667$1583333$2291667
2016-17$0$0$1166667-$1166667$1166667
2017-18$0$0$1166667-$1166667$1166667

The more important question: Who has the best chance to play his way back into appreciable role and restore some of their asset value?

When you consider that Gleason is three years younger and seems more likely to play for Carlyle given his player type and the composition of the Leaf defensive roster, could it reasonably be stated Gleason is more likely to have an opportunity to bounce back in Toronto? The contract is  ugly and there’s not much to suggest he’s an upgrade on Paul Ranger, but who is more likely to bounce back in this team under Carlyle? Love it or hate it, the answers seems to be Gleason.

 

At one time, Gleason was the defenceman the Leafs need; a shutdown guy who put in hard minutes against the best competition, with pretty good underlying numbers. In 2011-12, he started more shifts in the defensive zone than any other Canes defenceman and gave up relatively few shots. The 2011-12 Tim Gleason would complement the Leafs’ defence core nicely and alleviate Phaneuf of some of the toughs.

For a variety of reasons, including a head/ear injury that reportedly threw off his equilibrium and most recently a lower body injury that sidelined him for six games, Gleason has lost some of the mobility to his  game and the numbers, minutes and coach’s trust have slipped. A former American Olympian, once a good shutdown D, slowed by injuries and making around $4 million…

In terms of positives, Gleason has played 17, 14, 16, 17 and 16 minutes in his last five games while throwing 18 hits. He averages a minute and a half minute a game on the penalty kill, where the Leafs could maybe use his skillset – blocking shots, clearing the crease, box outs – now that Mark Fraser has fallen out of favour.

Former Leafs GM Brian Burke was a Tim Gleason fan, and a few years ago at the Scotiabank President’s Breakfast Burkie told a story about the 2009 World Championship American team involving the Michigan native. Gleason was one of two players, the other being Phil Kessel, who showed up to the flight home on time, sober and pissed about the loss. Burke said that was the moment he knew he wanted Phil Kessel.
[quote_box_center] Burke said his opinion of Kessel changed during the World Championships in Halifax in 2009. Burke was GM of Team USA’s entry, and Kessel had just come off his 36 goal campaign with the Boston Bruins. While training for the event in Maine, Tim Gleason approached Phil Kessel to invite him on an ocean fishing trip with the rest of the team. Kessel explained to Gleason that while he loves to fish, he gets seasick on rough water and would feel awful all day.

Yet Kessel took part on the fishing trip, sucking up seasickness, for the sake of espirit de corps and team building.  Kessel felt obliged towards his teammates regardless of his personal comfort.  Burke remarked that he was impressed by such a team-first attitude from a young guy.

He also touched on Kessel’s maturity.  After getting knocked out early in the tournament, there was a chartered flight for the team to Boston at 6 in the morning.  Only 8 players decided to make that flight, and only two – Kessel and Gleason – showed up sober, well rested and dressed in suits.  Kessel approached Burke, apologized for the team’s unsuccessful run and expressed a sincere distaste for not medaling in the tournament.  It was then, Burke said, that he wanted Phil Kessel to play hockey for him.[/quote_box_center]
I also really enjoy the story of the time Gleason’s Dad made him call Nikolai Kulemin and apologize for breaking his nose in a fight Kulemin wanted no part in.

Gleason will be available for Saturday’s game against the Rangers.

  • Optimustic

    Bitter sweet deal for me,  I like both players.  Two classy guys with contracts that are tough to move.   Canes needed a puck mover and Leafs needed a stay at home D. Wish the best for both players.
    BTW, I loved the part about Kessel, Gleason and Burke.  Thanks Alec.

  • Great Dane

    Moving Liles for Gleason seems to be the right move. Hopefully Gleason can regain some of the form he had 3-4 years ago.

    But I can’t help thinking that Nonis and Loiselle is working on something bigger.

    Reimer seems like he isn’t the 1B any more; Kadri is also being called out and Nonis said in the interview that he was too much of the same. With Phaneuf resigned I believe that Franson could be on the move as well.

  • Dink

    Great Dane I think you hit precisely on the “3” trade baits.

  • maple1967leafs

    Lots of scoring in this USA-RUS game

  • Burtonboy

    Great Dane When did Nonis say Kadri was more of the same? The  interview where he spoke bout Kadri all I heard said was Naz is still learning and with improvement he could be part of the core group going forward

  • Burtonboy

    As far a Gleason is concerned its possible he could surprise us but its also entirely possible we are looking at Ryan O’Bryne 2.0.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Agree with opinion below that something bigger may be on the horizon for Nonis.  Some redundancy in the lineup now.  But the Leafs should hold tight for now.  The team is showing signs of improvement.

  • maple1967leafs

    Burtonboy With some luck he will benefit from the Ole Change of scenery

  • Burtonboy

    maple1967leafs Burtonboy He has a better resume then O’Byrne for sure. Guess we see soon enough.

  • maple1967leafs

    Burtonboy The concussion is hard to recover from but eventually you get back to your old self in most cases , some take longer than others

  • MaxwellHowe

    Interestingly, Gleason has a no movement clause.  So he agreed to this move.  Maybe a good sign that he has visions of returning to form.  Likely a buyout, but we’ll see.

  • maple1967leafs

    Burtonboy maple1967leafs Worse case we have to buy him out , I have a feeling he’s going to be a good one tho

  • Burtonboy

    maple1967leafs Burtonboy Sounds like balance problem has been cleared up . Can’t see Nonis doing the deal if it was still an issue . Sitting around doing sweet fuck all trying to get over a concussion really sets you back . Gardiner is a prime example of that.

  • maple1967leafs

    Burtonboy maple1967leafs And Reimer took a while

  • maple1967leafs

    I see she’s a bit nippy down your way today BB  :)

  • Burtonboy

    maple1967leafs Burtonboy Maybe Barb can regain some of the mobility he’s lost as well . The guy was a really good dman only a yr or 2 ago.

  • Burtonboy

    maple1967leafs Fuck yeah but this is the time of yr we do get some lower temps . Usually the month of January is our coldest

  • mcloki

    Morning gents. Still giddy over yesterday’s win. I understand the trade. Time will tell if I like it. Saturday night I guess we’ll see

  • maple1967leafs

    mcloki Well we were not using JML so i dont think we can lose

  • Burtonboy

    mcloki Who sits I wonder ? Ranger just now seems to be coming around and it would be a shame if he sits

  • MaxwellHowe

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but Phaneuf doesn’t have an NTC for the remainder of this year – it only clicks in once his new contract come into effect.  I’m not suggesting anything except that this will hopefully provide some sort of additional incentive for him to continue his dominant play for the rest of the season.  Its far fetched, but many see his contract as something of a bargain, and if the wheels really fell off the Leafs season…..

  • Knights2Leafs

    Burtonboy Great Dane 
    lol – I’m going wtf, when did Nonis say that?

    One thing people forget about Kadri is that right now he, Rielly and Gardiner are very key components of the 2 PP unit which has looked very good.  With Bozak back, add Lupul on that 2nd unit.  I’m not saying that Holland couldn’t replace Kadri there, but we haven’t seen that part of Holland’s game yet.

  • MaxwellHowe

    27 below zero with the wind chill in St. John’s.  That is unheard of.  Miserable though it may be here, it is never that chilly.

  • Burtonboy

    MaxwellHowe Now that must be miserable in town. -10 feels like -40 to me in St.John’s

  • Burtonboy

    Knights2Leafs Burtonboy Great Dane Kadri is having a rough time right now but fuck you don’t just trade away talent like that based on 1/2 a year do you?  Unless the return is worth it you have to give him a chance to work his way out of this funk he’s in.

  • mcloki

    That’s the logjam at D. Ranger has played well. Rielly and Gardiner still frighten and amaze. Lol. It’s interesting times all right.

  • JWaterdrager

    MaxwellHowe I’ve read that NTC/NMC click in right away under the new CBA, before the contract starts. Wich also makes sense.

  • maple1967leafs

    mcloki Rielly only played 13 mins out of 65 , I suspect he’ll take the bench when Gleason plays next

  • MaxwellHowe

    I suppose – would be a dick move to have a guy take a home town discount a d then trade his ass.

  • JWaterdrager

    A player who signs an extension before his current deal is up can have a NTC/NMC become effective immediately if 1) he’s eligible to have an No-Trade/Movement Clause and 2) both the player and the team agree.
    http://www.wingingitinmotown.com/2013/6/28/4460828/getting-to-know-the-cba-episode-4-standard-player-contracts
    So I guess he could be traded if they didnt agree.

  • Mind Bomb

    A victorius Good morning To all !!!!

  • Burtonboy

    Mind Bomb Morning and the Yanks are out of the WJC. Russians bet them 5-3

  • MaxwellHowe

    sweet

  • Mind Bomb

    Burtonboy Mind Bomb  Morning BB, and shit hahhaa I had not even looked yet, the first place I come is here when I log in, Glad we were instrumental in giving them the russians then lol

  • Loric76

    Mind Bomb morning MB, morning all!

  • Mind Bomb

    Loric76 Mind Bomb  Morning Lor.

  • Burtonboy

    Tripp Tracy writer on the Carolina beat just said Gleason is a very loyal ,character guy and is the type that could have been a Capt. He also said he feels he could easily bounce back to form with a change of scenery.

  • Loric76

    The thing I don’t get about this deal is that Gleason is injury ridden and can’t play the way he plays, where Liles is healthy and perfectly capable of playing his game and was just stuck in depth.  So why did we give up a prospect for a more expensive Gleason?  I know the prospect really doesn’t matter since he’s at best a career AHL’er, but it seems like we’ve overpaid and that’s very un-Nonis like.

  • newkb

    Sounds like sellers remorse.

  • Loric76

    Just watching the TSN highlights from yesterday.  Man what a game that WC was

  • Loric76

    Burtonboy sounds good to me

  • Burtonboy

    newkb The’re really happy to have Liles

  • Airfreshener

    Goooooood moring MLHS and a happy new year.

  • newkb

    Liles will help them for sure.

  • Mind Bomb

    Airfreshener  Morning, and Happy New year. 

    The Leafs are Undefeated this year :)

  • Loric76

    Airfreshener morning

  • Loric76

    Mind Bomb Airfreshener and the Wings can’t buy a win so far this year lol

  • Mind Bomb

    Loric76 Mind Bomb Airfreshener I can live with that :)

  • Burtonboy

    The Russkies were rubbing it in after the MT net goal against the U.S.

    http://twitpic.com/dqyf7p

  • Knights2Leafs

    CanuckUKinToronto Burtonboy Great Dane 
    I’m not seeing this as making Gunnar available.  Although not a puck mover, from a physical point of view he’s more like Gardiner and Rielly, although I would argue ahead of them at this point.  Franson is developing his physical side and Dion already has it. 
    Carlyle has more flexibiltiy fitting in that 3rd physical 6th Dman – Gleason, Ranger and Fraser. If they need another offensive guy due to injury the can bring up Brennan.
    Bear in mind that when Bolland comes back Gleason’s contract will be a cap issue but unless he plays unreal between then and now, I doubt that Nonis sees trading Gunnar as the answer.