Even with news breaking this afternoon of Ilya Kovalchuk’s new $60 million contract extension (potentially) with the New Jersey Devils, this 2010 free agency period has been one of the most uneventful and slow-developing offseasons in recent memory. The reason being? Despite a mediocre at best free agent group, there simply isn’t enough money to pay these guys what they’re probably worth. As one unnamed NHL General Manager put it last week: “The teams with cap don’t have cash and the teams with cash don’t have cap”. The Maple Leafs however, are fortunate enough to have both, and have the opportunity to exploit the market to their advantage.
There is no saying that Brian Burke wonâ€™t find some way to improve the Leafs lot come draft day, but as things stand this very moment the Leafs will not be making a selection until the third round. Where the Leafs went off the board early last year taking the nameplate-less Jamie Devane in the third, in a draft marked by big-bodied rough-and-tumble types, chances are this season, Burke and his staff will be looking for a player with a more immediate skill set. Not only would this partially appease a disheartened fan base, the Leafs will enter the draft wary of saturating the cupboard with leviathan sized bodyguards.
Final Deadline Trades:
Alexei Ponikarovsky to Pittsburgh for Luca Caputi and Martin Skoula
Martin Skoula to New Jersey for a fifth round draft selection.
Lee Stempniak to PHX for 4th and 7th rounders.
Joey MacDonald to ANA for a 7th rounder in 2011.
Wrap-Up: That looks to be a wrap on Brian Burke’s trade activity for the 2009-10 season. The Stempniak deal was obviously a form of loss-cutting on a pending UFA, but it’s a bit painful to remember who we sacrificed to acquire him in November of 2008 in two albeit underachieving first rounders in Alex Steen and Carlo Colaiacovo. The Leafs will not draft until the third round this year, and Burke did not succeed in that sense, however he moved the only piece realistically capable of fetching a second rounder for a semi-established young asset with the potential to replace Poni at an immediately cheaper price in Luca Caputi. It looks as though no takers could be found on either Wayne Primeau or Garnet Exelby, who look sure to now enter the FA market July 1.
There seems to be details yet to unfurl surrounding the Tomas Kaberle situation this deadline, as once again Leafs fans were teased into believing a deal was pending (involving Hodgson, as it was reported, or possibly Alzner from Washington) only for what looked to be an imminent deal to be flatly denied by Brian Burke in the end. There are rumblings that Kaberle might have nixed a deal in similar fashion to the Jeff Carter situation at the ’08 deadline.
From Garrett Bauman:
While many of us were toiling away on “live online blogs” to get our hockey fix, a few MLHS writers were fortunate enough to make the trip down to see Game 2 of the rookie tournament in Kitchener against the Boston Bruins. Down at the rink, MLHS’ own Gus Katsaros managed to sneak in a few minutes with Leaf GM Brian Burke and rookie Nazem Kadri to chat about the game and the upcoming season.
Since taking over the reigns of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke identified several glaring weaknesses in his team.Â In several press conferences, he clearly and succinctly described these weaknesses and his intention and plans to amend his product.Â Being one of the more active General Managers, commencing with the NCAA free agent period right through til today, Mr Burke has lived up to the expectations most Leaf fans would have.Â Commencing with the signings of Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson, followed up with deadline trades to acquire draft picks, drafting London Knights sensation Nazim Kadri, signing key UFA’s specifically addressing his teams needs and the signing of top European goalie Jonas Gustuvvson led to renewed optimism amongst Leaf supporters – not of an imminent Stanley Cup victory, but, rather of a renewed direction and focus, once again bringing hope of a contending Leafs team being iced in the not too distant future.
After a short hiatus, Brian Burke has gotten right back on the horse. RDS and TSN are reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired checking forward Wayne Primeau and a 2nd round pick in 2011 from the Calgary Flames in exchange for defenseman Anton Stralman, forward Colin Stuart, and a 7th round pick in 2012. Primeau was limited to just 4 assists in 24 regular season games for Calgary last season due to a broken foot. The 33 year old carries 1 year left on his contract at a value of $1.4 million. Anton Stralman recorded 16 points in 36 AHL games and was named to the league’s all-star team last season.
The Edmonton Oilers are said to be meeting face-to-face with disgruntled Ottawa Senators forward Dany Heatley tonight in a last-ditch attempt to convince him to accept their trade offer.
Update: Heatley putting trade on hold – again.
Part 3: 20 Years of Maple Misery
From Gord Stellick to Cliff Fletcher Version 2.0
Itâ€™s been over 40 years since the Leafs won the cup and while others make fun of the fans for continuing to cheer, here is an overview of why you shouldnâ€™t make fun, but feel bad for themâ€¦