Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Curious Case of Colby Armstrong

When the Leafs signed Colby Armstrong I remember thinking it was a great signing and that he would be a fantastic addition to the 3rd line.

And then I saw his salary.

Is $3M really a 3rd line salary in Toronto? Consider that the Leafs fought Kulemin's agent to get his salary further from that number and closer to $2M. And Kulemin has clear top two line pedigree. Last summer once the dust had settled on the Kessel trade they paid him just over $5M a season, a player Burke and many others believe has 40-goal seasons in him by the dozen. He's first line all the way.

So $3M salary to me means that Armstrong is definitely considered by Toronto to be in the top 6 forward unit. You just wouldn't go out and sign a guy at that price unless you think so.

Is Armstrong actually a top 6 forward who can produce like one?

His first season in the NHL looked like this:

2005 Pittsburgh NHL 47GP 16G 24A 40PTS +15

Those are outstanding numbers but didn't he play on a line with Sid that season?

His most recent season looked like this:

2009-10 Atlanta NHL 79GP 15G 14A 29PTS +6

Those are 3rd line numbers if I ever saw them. His +6 is pretty impressive considering the team he played for, and 15 goals is solid, but to me the only way you pay $3M year for his production is if you've traded for him in February, in the last year of his deal as you add depth for a playoff run. No, based on last season alone $3M appears to be a substantial overpayment if you go by his numbers.

This is one of those signings that has Leaf fans a little white knuckled going into the season. Which Armstrong will show up and could this money have been better spent elsewhere or is this guys character, defensive play and offensive potential worth the investment?

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