The RFA qualification deadline passed yesterday with the Leafs opting to allow former NCAA signings Christian Hanson and Brayden Irwin to enter unrestricted free agency. The same goes for Fabian Brunnstrom, the once highly touted forward out of Sweden who was a late season addition to the Marlies. Leafs brass qualified the main three remaining RFAs in Luke Schenn, Clarke MacArthur and Tyler Bozak as well as late season callup Matt Lashoff and prospects Luca Caputi, Ben Scrivens and Greg Scott.
The qualifications the Leafs did make were not overly surprising; the first three were obvious and Lashoff looks like he’ll be among the first defensive call ups when injuries or poor play pops up next season. After only a 20 game season due to a nagging abdominal injury that eventually required sports hernia surgery, it seems worthwhile for the Leafs to see Caputi can do at training camp and in a hopefully full season starting on the farm. He was a bright spot in the 2010 preseason (including a multipoint game against Ottawa September 22nd) when he seemed to be beginning to use his frame more effectively, showing glimpses of that power forward Burke hoped he was acquiring in exchange for Alexei Ponikarovsky at the deadline of 2009. Ben Scrivens took over the Marlies starting job with aplomb after the Reimer call up, ranking fifth (tie) in the AHL this season in save percentage (0.926) and seventh in goals against average (2.25), and as of now holds the third position on the goaltending depth chart.
Now, we saw Burke and co. allow John Mitchell to walk this time last year after leaving him unqualified, only to resign him for cheaper than what the qualifying offer would have been worth. It’s possible we could see the same scenario unfold, most likely with Christian Hanson of the three the Leafs let walk. Brayden Irwin was a major project, particularly for the organization’s skating coaches, which we can’t be too shocked about not working out, while Brunnstrom was an obvious rental for the Marlies with no future with the organization; neither would be worth the Standard Player Contract slots they would occupy. Now 25, Hanson is far from anything I would consider “unlosable” but he has shown glimpses of being a decent checking liner with some offensive upside. All it’s really been is glimpses though, and I can’t see him finding a place in the Leaf lineup again this year. His qualifying offer would have been worth $715,000.
It wasn’t just the Leafs’ qualifying deadline yesterday. A surprising name was allowed to test the UFA waters by Pittsburgh in one Tyler Kennedy; apparently afraid of what arbitration might bring, GM Ray Shero will try to sign Kennedy as a UFA but should expect competition on the open market for the grinder-scorer who put up 21 goals and 45 points last season.
Other NHL links:
Kevin Bieksa reups for 5 years with Vancouver for a pretty meagre $1.1 million raise. Christian Ehroff is still unsigned and could test the waters. Instead of potentially overpaying there, I think the Leafs did the smart thing in picking up a good offensive D stopgap in JM Liles while Gardiner develops in the wings.
Carter seemingly wasn’t happy about going to Columbus.
The Hockey News with the latest breakdown on the Richards sweepstakes. The Rangers plan on throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him according to the NY Daily News.