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A variety of discussion points to kick off the weekend including the imminent departure of Justin Pogge and the Marlies goaltending situation going into next season. Is it finally James Reimer’s time to shine? Also, a quick look at the latest flurry of moves made by the Boston Bruins, and how that may affect a potential Leaf trade for the still unsigned Phil Kessel.
Brian Burke was on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown on Wednesday afternoon to discuss a variety of Leaf topics. An audio link to the interview can be found on the FAN 590′s website here. Although none of the news was of the earth-shattering variety, there were a couple interesting tidbits dropped as it pertains to the Leafs’ plans over the next few weeks and going into the regular season.
Looks like we can get ready to cross off another free agent target off the list. A few weeks after Blue Jackets sniper Rick Nash agreed to an 8 year, $62.5M contract to stay in Columbus, a Russian source is reporting that the Atlanta Thrashers are expected to ink star winger Ilya Kovalchuk to a record-setting contract worth $11.36M a season, which is 20% of the team’s total cap ($58.6M) and the maximum salary a player can receive under the current CBA. The two-time 50 goal scorer will now shatter Ovechkin’s previous record annual salary of $9M a year.
Let’s fight off the Monday blahs with a quick look at what’s happening around the NHL. A quick update on various issues that may impact the Maple Leafs, such as the Phil Kessel contract negotiations, the Patrick Sharp and Brad Richards trade rumors, and what the signing of Wade Dubielewicz may mean to the goaltending situation in Minnesota.
Coming into this offseason, GM Brian Burke promised to drastically overhaul the Maple Leafs roster, and he knew that the primary asset at his disposal was cap space: lots and lots of it. After handing out long-term contracts to Orr,Â Beauchemin, and Komisarek, he’s got a little under $3 million left to play with in order to add an impact top six forward. In an attempt to minimize the amount of outgoing “talent” via trade, it’s no secret that he’s been trying to corner GM’s of teams that are pressed right up against the cap.
Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.
Picking up on the “defenseman for a forward” trade offer that Burke received the other day, ESPN’s Al Cimaglia speculated on a possible fit with the Chicago Blackhawks. After accomodating the acquisition of Hossa and the significant raises to Versteeg, Bolland and Barker, the Hawks find themselves pressed right up against the cap and still requiring a tough, stay at home defender. With Burke having up to six NHL defensive defensemen on his roster right now, Cimaglia suggested the newly acquired Garnet Exelby as a possible fit since he’s young, cheap and would fit the mold of what GM Dave Tallon is looking for to round out his defense core.
After taking a short pause to catch his breath after the Jonas Gustavsson deal was all sewn up, GM Brian Burke got right back down to business, as the Toronto Star is reporting that he placed calls to six free agent forwards. His top two priorities at the moment include a skilled forward for the top six group, and a versatile player for the bottom six group that will contribute to the team’s penalty kill. Briefly skimming through the list of free agent forwards still available, I’m going to toss out the names PJ Axelsson and Tom Kostopoulous into the already rumored group of Manny Malholtra, Blair Betts and Travis Moen. As a 29 year old, 6’3 210 lb player from Western Canada, Betts was the #1 forward on the league’s #1 PK unit last season for the Rangers.
The Leafs have a tad over $3M left to play with this offseason, and Burke mentioned that he had received a significant offer for one of his defenseman not named Kaberle, in a deal that would involve a forward coming back with a greater salary. So he’s going to have to weigh his options over the next few days, as he prioritizes how to allocate the remaining cap space.
Leafs Nation can breathe a sigh of relief.Â The long wait for Swedish goalie Jonas Gustavsson’s decision is over.Â Reports indicate that the tender has finally chosen the Toronto Maple Leafs after a long wooing process from a number of interested teams.
The contract is a one year deal totaling $900,000.Â Many expect Gustavsson to be brought in as Vesa Toskala’s backup and be a constant source of competition for our Finnish goaltender.Â Of course, there is the possibility that “the best goaltender outside of the NHL” exceeds expectations and steals the number one spot.
Sportsnet is reporting that the Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with free agent defenseman Francois Beauchemin on a 3 year contract, worth $11.5 million. The Beauchemin-Burke reunion has long been rumored by various news outlets since the end of the season.
Staying consistent with the outlined game plan prior to the start of free agent frenzy, the Leafs have added yet another “under 30″ core piece to the puzzle, by bringing in a key cog of a championship calibre defense who just turned 29 last month. This signing will provide the young Leafs’ defense core with a savvy veteran, locker room leader, and proven winner.
Update: TSN is reporting 3 years, $11.5 million for Beauchemin (3.8 per).
Also, Nazem Kadri has been signed to a three-year, entry level contract.
Leafs also re-upped Ryan Hamilton and Ben Ondrus today. Jeremy Williams and Kris Newbury meanwhile signed with the Detroit Red Wings.
More to come from Alex shortly.
Nick Kypreos is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with C Mikhail Grabovski on a 3 year deal, worth $8.7M or just under $3M per season. Grabovski is coming off an impressive debut campaign for the Maple Leafs in which he recorded 20 goals and 48 points in 78 games played. This contract will lock him up until 2012, when he can start looking for the big bucks at the prime age of 28. A nice signing by Toronto, and the term of the contract should inspire Grabovski to work his tail off for that next big payday. With Mikhail in the fold, the Leafs payroll now stands at approximately $50M, leaving about $7M left in cap space.
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.
As reported, Leafs deal Kubina and then turn and sign Mike Komisarek. $4.5 per for 5 years (pretty damn good value).
Burke’s defensive corps is starting to take its shape… Leafs getting increasingly badass.
Update: Komisarek turned down more money to go to T.O.
Official Deal: Kubina + Tim Stapleton for Garnet Exelby + Colin Stuart.
Turns out it’s Garnet Exelby + a few other parts coming back. Looks to be a salary cap clearance more than anything for something bigger… Burke’s expected to make a major push for Komisarek now as reported here earlier.
Exelby’s a tough customer and a Canadian boy. The theme continues….
The Leafs gain $2 million in cap space in the exchange.
It was unlikely Burke would test the $5 million threshold with Cammalleri… looks like the Habs have. 6 years, 5 million per as Cammalleri joins the Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens have acquired center Scott Gomez, Tom Pyatt, and Mike Busto from the New York Rangers in exchange for Chris Higgins, Doug Janik, Ryan McDonagh and Pavel Valentenko.
Also, reports out of Sweden suggest the Sedin Twins have each signed a 6 year $6M dollar/season contract. It was announced on CBC Radio and discussed on TSN but is considered to be a false report at this time. The Canucks offered them one last offer before going into free agency tomorrow, the Sedins (to the public knowledge) have yet to accept or decline the offer.
With only one day remaining before the draft, the NHL rumour mill is of course running rampant.
Here is an update on the latest “non-source” chatter I’ve been hearing regarding draft moves, trade possibilities, and free agent speculation as it may or may not pertain to our boys in blue.
With just over a week to go until free agency, a certain Maple Leaf RFA by the name of Mikhail Grabovski is drawing some interesting attention from the management. The 25 year old who cost the Leafs a 2nd and a prospect last summer is seeking a contract of 3 to 5 years at $3.5M to $4M per season. This is essentially a breakdown of what he offers. Please leave a comment with your perspective of his demand after reading his specs and other information.
HAHAHA Ok let’s try to be serious here. HAHA sorry i’m trying really hard. It is rumoured that The Sedins are looking for a contract in the neighbourhood of… ready for this… $128 Million for the pair. HAHAHA sorry i just can’t stop laughing about this. So let’s do the math, that would work out to $5.33 million each per year, not bad right? But for 12 YEARS?
I realize they are twins. I get that they are really good players. But do they share a brain?
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