Saturday, July 31, 2010

Somebody explain this to me, please.

Anaheim trades Wisniewski to the Islanders for a conditional 3rd round pick?

What the hell is this all about?

Friday, July 30, 2010

So are the Leafs better off?

This via Mike Augello at hockeybuzz:
An interesting fact from the Toronto Star’s Damien Cox: “(Matt)Stajan and (Ian)White now have combined cap hit of $6.5 Million, same as (Dion)Phaneuf.”

Obviously you can cut the trade in ways other than this comparison since Hagman was in the deal, but dollar for dollar dos the above scenario benefit more the Flames or Leafs?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You know it's almost August when...

1. Eklund starts posting rumour charts from his vacation home which makes us all hate him a little more because he's actually making money off this crap.

2. Gary Bettman is fighting somebody in court who is trying to screw the league over in some fashion.

3. Mike Fisher knocks on your front door collecting for his church. If you don't donate he makes you listen to one of his girlfriends songs.

4. Dion Phaneuf starts to cut down to a pack a day knowing training camp is just around the corner.

5. Vesa Toskala hasn't allowed a face palm inducing goal for over a week.

6. Somewhere in Ottawa a Daniel Alfredsson mannequin is being driven around in the passenger seat of a car so that Ottawa fans spot it and think the guy actually lives there in the off-season.

7. They announce ticket sales to the Leafs/Pens/Sens rookie tournament in September and you think "I'm going to go this year" and then of course you don't.

8. The Jays are mathematically eliminated from the post-season.

9. Ron Wilson's skin irritations clear up and Howard Berger takes his summer leave from reporting. There is no connection.

10. Bloggers start doing pointless lists because absolutely nothing is happening in the NHL...

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?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Performance bonus Leafs

Jumbo shrimp. Plastic glass. Open secret.

$1.4 million penalty for the Leafs. I'm guessing the performance bonus would be trulence based?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Do you believe Jason Spezza?

He's finally spoken about his meeting with Murray at the end of last season.

I'm not sure if he's being honest here or just covering his ass before the season starts, but I'm sure glad he's staying in Ottawa. It just wouldn't be the same if Ottawa misses the playoffs this year and Spezza wasn't there!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kovalchuk a Devil.

Thank God it's over. The bad taste in my mouth is gone.

Now lets get some trades going huh!


Not much going on.

Here's a link to a freakin awesome video that JaredFromLondon posted on PPP last week.
Kudos to Kessely Snipes for putting this together. Sweetness.

Fuck you Kovalchuk.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

More twiddling our thumbs....

It's the Leafs turn. Now I'm getting sportsnet updates on my phone featuring such ground-breaking signings as Joey Crabb and Mike Zigomanis.
I'm sure they are nice guys and just really want to make an NHL team and stick, but the longer I wait for Ilya (Mats Sundin) Kovalchuk to make up his freakin' mind, the more I despise these updates.

I realize this doesn't make for much conversation on the blog so how about a few Eklund rumours?

Savard and Wheeler BOTH to Ottawa for players yet to be named?

Wow. What could be going back?
Leafs talking to the Flyers about two players, one being Gagne and the other unknown?
One season of Simone Gagne? Come on, does this make an inkling of sense?

At least the Savard to Ottawa rumour has legs since we know he named the Sens as one of his preferred destinations.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Sound of finger popping out of cheek...


Ottawa has signed Roman Wick.

... holy crap, Kovalchuk better sign soon because I need better sportsnet updates on my mobile device than this crap.

Who the hell is Roman Wick? Can we swap the w for a d as the season wears on?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Finger anybody?

In my last post I touched on the possibility that Jeff Finger might not be the defenceman traded alongside Thomas Kaberle because of his contract.

By the way it's $3.5M per season through the next 2 seasons.

A few people have mentioned that teams who are at or near the cap floor might be potential suitors for Finger so I went to to see who these potential teams may be. The cap floor is currently set at $43.4 Million.

Here are three teams that could possibly trade with Toronto for Jeff Finger based on their cap situation and defence core.

COLORADO: Sitting at $36.615 with 18 players already signed. The only key RFA yet to sign is Mueller, but they might add some UFAs to replace Tucker and/or Svatos. They don't have a very deep blue line.

LONG ISLAND: $35.993M cap hit with 16 players signed. Since they are in on Kovalchuk this could change drastically. Otherwise they have Moulson still to re-sign and a weak blue line.

ST LOUIS: $38.023M cap hit. They have a few RFA players to re-sign and 16 players signed overall. The defence core in St Louis is painfully inexperienced.

I think the best fit for Finger is Colorado. They know this player well, they have shitloads of cap space and Matt Duchene isn't up for his next contract until the summer after Finger's contract expires.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Trading only Kaberle doesn't make sense.

As it stands the Leafs have 8 NHL defenceman signed for the coming season. Everyone assumes that number will hit 7 as soon as the much anticipated trade of Thomas Kaberle is finalized.

It's not unusual for teams to carry 7 defenceman during the season. Burke said it himself, you need depth on the blue line if you want to get through an NHL season on the winning side of the ledger.

But do we really think that Burke went out and spent $1.4M on a defenceman so that he could share that 6th spot with Jeff Finger all season? If that was the case, Burke probably would have went cheaper. Much cheaper.

Something else is cooking and I think it's unwise to assume that a Jeff Finger buyout is the only answer. Finger has two years left on his deal. I don't get the impression that Burke is the kind of guy who will ruin a players career by sending him to the minors and never calling him up for two years, just because his predecessor gave a decent depth defenceman top 4 d-man money. If he did call him up, Toronto would be on the hook for $1.75M for two seasons. No matter how you cut it, Jeff Finger must be traded or he plays here.

Which makes me think that two defenceman are going to be traded at some point, and one of them probably won't go by the name Jeff.

LUKE SCHENN: A couple of reasons why Luke should be a little nervous any time his cell phone rings and one of the Leafs GM's are on the display screen. First off, if Toronto really want a top 6 winger with star power, Luke Schenn is going to be asked about by a rival GM. If the package gets sweet enough, Burke may be tantalized. Second reason, Schenn is in the last year of his entry-level deal. If he has the kind of season this year that he did as a rookie and in the latter stages of 09/10, he will get a raise. Probably a good one. Which means cap decisions will shortly follow.

CARL GUNNARSSON: Everybody loves this guy and for good reason: who can resist a late-round draft pick who walks in, steals a job, and plays like a seasoned pro for an entire season. Here's the thing, he was a 6th round draft pick. He was never considered a major asset by the team but right now he has become one. If a GM can turn a 6th rounder into a top 6 forward, that's pretty good. Gunnarsson is also an RFA after this season and like Luke Schenn, he could be looking at a raise. And also like Luke Schenn, he is young and attractive to other GM's for that very reason.

When Burke signed Komi, it was pretty clear he had hopes that Mike would be the teams leader on the blue line. Immediately handed the assistant captain role, Komisarek represented everything Brian Burke likes about a player and I think most Leaf fans saw him as a cornerstone signing. But then Dion Phaneuf came along, and this leaves Komisarek vulnerable to being moved in my opinion.

FRANCOIS BEAUCHEMIN: A minutes eater, never complains and always gives it his all. His salary is reasonable for a player with a cup ring and who was invited to Canada's Olympic camp. He had a tough start to the season (along with everybody else who played for the Toronto Maple Leafs), but he's clearly a solid top 4 guy on most teams. He's also signed for the next two seasons at $3.8M, which is a certainty some GM's might want when dealing away a forward to Toronto.

While I don't pretend to know what Brian Burke is thinking, a part of me wonders if two players he convinced to sign in Toronto, Komi and Beauchemin, would be pretty much untouchable only because Burke doesn't like to dick players around. Then again he bought out Bertuzzi after one season in Anaheim, but a buyout gives a player the chance to choose his next destination. A trade means these guys have no choice and could leave a bad taste in their mouths it being so soon after they signed here.

The other side of the coin is that despite being up for raises, Gunnarson and Schenn could provide very cost effective defending for many more years and this would be more ideal for the Toronto Maple Leafs long-term salary cap situation.

What it comes down to in the end is this. How badly does Burke want a top six forward and how willing is he to have a $4.9M 6th and 7th defence combination?

Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Whoever says Leaf fans wear blinders...

Go check out the reaction to the Brett Lebda trade over at PPP.

You would think that Burke just signed Kovalev for $10M or something???

I don't see any issue with the trade. $1.4M is peanuts in the NHL for a veteran player. Don't believe me? Eklund doesn't just think it's a good deal, he thinks it might be Burke's BEST deal yet! How can you argue with that?

Expect the Kaberle trade to go down as soon as today. One rumoured deal that I could actually see happening is Wayne Simmonds and a prospect from Los Angeles. One thing is for sure, Toronto will get a good player back.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Red Wings Re-sign Eaves. Remember him?

Any Sens fans care to recommend a new Senator for Armstrong to feast on now that Eaves is long gone?

Lets get on with it already!

Is it just me, or is this the weirdest UFA season ever? Kovalchuk still not signed while 100 free agents wait for this supposed "domino effect" to start. Meanwhile over in the NBA, LaBron James will use ESPN for an entire hour just to announce the team he is signing on with. What the hell will the other 59 minutes comprise of, exactly? It would appear that this is the summer the unrestricted free agents took us all hostage.

Pat Quinn used to say about his players: "They are the show". I suppose this is true, although I happen to believe that while you can't have a game without the players you also can't pay those players without the fans. Right now, as a dedicated fan, I'm getting kind of sick of being strung along by kazillionaire athletes trying to decide where they will play for maximum allowable contracts and in the case of the NBA, which of their buddies they can bring along.

Lets face it. It's more than a little stomach turning isn't it? And while the NBA can't officially close the books on their UFA's until tomorrow, the NHL has had the ability for a whole week. And yet, we all wait.

As a fan of the game and a guy who is getting (maybe possibly ok yes very) obsessed (anybody else refreshing TSN every 11 minutes every day since the draft?), I really need this stuff to end. I need to focus back on my job. I need to attend to the Carpal Tunnel in my mouse hand. I need to get exercise. I need to finish renovating my bathroom. I need to mow the lawn. I need to re-establish a relationship with my wife. I need this thing to end, for my sanity!

So I'm using my get out of jail free card today. I'm begging you:
Sign a god-damned contract Ilya Kovalchuk so the rest of the NHL and more importantly us fans can get on with our lives.

Really, is it so much to ask?

Monday, July 05, 2010

Free top 6 forward? No thanks says Burke.

Rumours that Toronto were in discussions with Nicolai Zherdev have been quashed by TSN.

Zherdev is 6'2"and 205lbs, 25 years old, and in 365 NHL games has 239 points, including 99 goals. O

And yet, Brian Burke doesn't want him?

I don't know much about this player other than he took off to the KHL.

What's the deal with this guy? Why would a 29th place team short on top-6 talent say no to a free sniper?

Friday, July 02, 2010

Change of heart on the OTT-NJD-PIT 'trade'

I like to think of this as a three way deal between OTT-NJD-PIT, i.e., Volchenkov-Martin-Gonchar.

Ok, so THM was originally down on the deal given to Gonchar (3 yrs @ $5.5M)as a replacement for Volchenkov who signed for 6 yr @ $4.25M).   THM felt bitterness that A-train turned down 5 yrs @ $4.0M from Ottawa and that Murray hadn't appeared willing to tack on a quarter mill and an extra year.  THM also looked at Gonchar's age and recent injury history and thought 'this could be another $5M Russian goat'.   Let's hope not.

However, it's come out that Volchenkov wanted to test the market regardless of any Ottawa offer.  So be it; we've maintained our Russian defenseman quotient and added another Stanley Cup winner who will play a major role on the power-play and keep the puck out of the hands of an opponent's forwards.

On another point, Ottawa appears to have taken the Montreal Canadiens' success as an example in letting some of the toughness out of the locker room.  This, of course, is assuming Sutton does not return (sadly, the surprisingly impressive Cullen has departed).   It does cause a bit of concern but, then again, Chicago lacked any measure of toughness.   On this note, Philly-NYR games are going to be a treat now that Boogard is a Ranger, filling the spot left by Shelly's jump to Philly.   We'll just have to see how well reliable, playoff-OT-goal-scoring, 15 min TOI Carkner does against the 3 minute gang of Shelly, Boogard & Orr.

F**k Brazil!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

THM's WTF moment

$5M is too much for a defenseman who plays defense. But $5.5M for a defenseman who plays an offensive game is fair? Because we need more offensive D-men? Ok, Murray, there's got to be something else in the works. Lee is on the way out, right? Right?? And the plan must be for Cowan & Weircoch to be roster players with the big club and miraculously be NHL-level from the get go, right? Right?? And that new dynamo from St. Louis - you're going to convert him to a shot-blocker, right? Right??

This may be the beginning of what I shall coin "The Karlsson Effect".

Seriously, good bye $5M A-Train, hello $5.5 M old man....

Versteeg now a Leaf. Kaberle still a Leaf.

Quite incredible really. A young top-six forward lands on the roster and the Leafs best trade bait Thomas Kaberle hasn't even been dealt yet.

Tomorrow is gonna be cool. I will be checking my phone for UFA updates from a beach in Barbados!

Happy Canada day and enjoy the long weekend.