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.
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
– – –
Fortune Magazine: Where did the hockey millions go? – Faceoff, Madoff.
Jason Botchford: Canucks shopping Edler despite NTC – Is 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 preview – Check out Vinny’s ‘Blue Steel’
Stumble Upon: NHL GM dartboard – This has to be from Holmgren’s front-office.
James Mirtle: Top unrestricted free agents – Your primer.
Backhand Shelf: The Quiet Room: Bergeron was a disaster – I guess ‘disaster’ is the new ‘zombie’.