Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.

7/05/2006

Time to digest

Ok. So JFJ moved to shore up the blue line with Kaberle's Czech mate Kubina and hulking Hal Gill, rather than bolster forward corps. I can't say I'm thrilled with the acquisitions or the contracts, but I'm not overly upset either.

Gill is reasonably priced, durable, good for twenty minutes a night, big, and has hopefully adapted to the speed of the game. His size got him in unnecessary penalty trouble last season, so hopefully he can avoid repeating those mistakes. I do remember him playing much better when the buds hosted the Bruins in March and when they went to beantown in April. Overall this is an average signing and ranks a 'Low' on the excitement scale. UPDATE: For an unbiased (or more biased) opinion, SISU of team Zissou quips "Yes, *that* Hal Gill - the guy that moves like an 800lb grizzly bear. Wait... grizzlies are deceptively fast. He moves more like a grizzly that has been hit with a tranquilizer dart, but hasn't thrown in the towel just yet."

Kubina is over-priced at $5m per, but I guess that's what having your name on the Cup gets you. Don't get me wrong, Kubina is a solid player and a former fantasy sleeper but he played through a major funk last year. That stretch could be attributable to the atrocious goaltending the 'Ning were getting, but Kubina was a fantasy bust for most of the season. He scored the second least amount of goals he has in the last seven seasons. And I suspect most of his assists are courtesy of prime ice time on the PP, given his previous A totals. From what I can recall, he isn't the best puck mover either, though it isn't an obvious weakness. Overall, Kubina makes the team better but is getting too much money. UPDATE: To quote a pro-scout "It’s surprising that he received five million per, for four years. Toronto has invested much in its defense."

Hopefully Tomas is excited and these two can become a premier world-class pairing. And if Kubina/Kaberle become something special, this was a great signing, even if it does cost a bit more than it should have. And after all the Kaberle-to-Edmonton talk, this is a solid gesture to repay Kaberle's loyalty and make him one happy Leaf. And I think Kaberle should be the one making more money. Can buds swap contracts? No, but Pavel can buy dinner on the road for an entire season.

Would I have done the same thing? No, I would've went in the opposite direction. Elias definitely. Samsonov perhaps. Maybe even Shanahan. I was leaning towards McKee and Frank Kaberle. Maybe sign Kubina for $4 per and trade some defensive assets for some first line winger. From an internal perspective, getting scoring makes the most sense because of the abundance of young Buds on the blue line. But from a talent availability perspective, i.e. reality, apart from Elias, not much was up for grabs, so there goes my master plan.

But it is only July 5, and the roster is incomplete, with hints of more forwards to be added. So we shall see. Lindros better not be the best option for the first line. Anson Carter is a decent option, but I saw too much of a listless, wait-for-the-other-guy-to-show-some-hustle, floater during his time as a Ranger. And putting the puck in the net and reading the Sedins' isn't rocket-science, so I just hope if he ends up a Leaf he doesn't return to his old habits.

Possible Leaf Lines
Poni-Sundin-Lindros???
Kilger-Wellwood-Tucker
Steen-Stajan-O'Neill
Williams-Pohl-Belak

Possible Leaf Pairs
Kaberle-McCabe/Kubina
Kaberle/McCabe-Gill
White/Woz/Harrison/Bell/Kronwall/Carlo/Luke???

Raycroft, Aubin, Tellqvist

P.S. - What I am most eager to see is how Maurice shapes this team and what traits he imprints into their style of play.

P.P.S. - Leave Stajan in the middle. He is twice the player at pivot that he is on the wing.

P.P.P.S. - Maurice is talking about using Belak up front, but the Berg-Belak pairing worked out not too bad last year, so maybe a Gill-Belak pairing could work. Or not. Maybe a Gill-White pair? I don't know where Gill fits in the new NHL or on my team. I think I'm still in denial on this one. Harrison could've done what Gill is going to do.

And the real doozie - Are Kaberle and McCabe going to remain together? And if not, who gets PP1 and who is relegated to PP2? If Kaberle gets the prime time, McCabe and Kubina can pay him under the table.

UPDATE: Antropov doesn't seem to have opted for arbitration.

7 Comments:

  • At 8:30 PM, Anonymous David Johnson said…

    I expect the PP pairs to be Kaberle-McCabe and Kubina-White. I think White makes the team based on his time with the Marlies and his highly successful short stint with the Leafs last year (12gp, 1g, 6pts, +2).

    Up front I would like to see them re-sign Lindros for around $1 million and add either Anson Carter or Samsonov but neither should get more than a 2 year deal or more than $2-2.5 million per year. My lines would then be:

    Steen-Sundin-Tucker
    Carter-Wellwood-Stajan
    Ponikarovski-Lindros-O'Neill
    Kilger-Pohl-Williams/Suglobov
    Belak

    McCabe-Kaberle
    Kubina-White
    Gill-Colaiacovo

    Raycroft
    Aubin

    Belak would be used as an extra forward or as a defenseman as an injury fill-in. In case of a longer term injury I like Jay Harrison over the other 3 youngsters (Wozniewski, Kronwall, Bell).

    If I were JFJ I would then consider packaging Antropov with one or two of Wozniewski, Kronwall and Bell for a skilled young forward that will be ready for the NHL either this year or next. With 4 veteren defensemen locked up long term there is no sense keeping 6 young defensemen waiting in line for just 2 spots.

     
  • At 12:13 AM, Blogger Wardo said…

    You held my interest until you said Belak/Berg worked out "not too bad" last year.

     
  • At 11:49 AM, Blogger ninja said…

    DJ, I like your pairings alot, especially your confidence in White. I was hoping Carlo would finally have his break-out season and assure his place as a top-4 D. But White seems like a better fit.

    wardo, I was referring to a stretch near the end of the season when Belak was pinching at the right times and laying the body effectively without taking himself out of position. It wasn't a long stretch, but it was promising.

     
  • At 3:48 PM, Anonymous WeedyMcSmokey said…

    I think the following:

    Kubina cost too much, but he's a better than decent addition to the blue line.

    Hal Gill was punished for being the only guy in Boston who seemed to give a shit last year, and was rewarded by playing over 20 minutes a night. It's too bad he really can't play that much and still be good. He's a rather expensive 5th or 6th defenceman, which is what he'll be by the end of the year I think. You were right about the Harrison comment. He could have done this job. But Gill won't make too many enemies of fans I think.

    Ian White makes this team and then Smelli-accovo, or Bell or Harrison fills out the rest. In today's cap-infused NHL, that's a pretty good blueline corps. Not near Anaheim or Ottawa, but better than most.

    I like Peca inserted as the number 2 centre (looks to be all but done). I especially like the idea of him and Tucker on the same line. Could be bad for other teams, could be bad for the practice arena.

    There is no chance we keep Lindros now, unless he basically plays for meal money and free plane rides - which beats playing for Columbus, frankly (rumoured to be the only other team interested in him. Makes sense - these assholes actually traded for Federov. And not in 1998. In 2006.). He's the guy to play on Sundin's wing. We can't even afford Anson Carter at this point.

    Nope this is your team. Add a Peca and hope that Raycroft isn't a big Jim Carrey fan.

     
  • At 4:25 PM, Blogger ninja said…

    So, all it takes for you to comment is for spofi to go up in flames, eh?

    What's the word on Peca's price tag? He made $4m last year, but I'd like to see him sign for a little less than $2m for one year, with a team option for a second year.

     
  • At 9:20 AM, Anonymous Leafs fan in exile (NB) said…

    The scuttle-butt initially was that Lindros would sign for around $750k. If that's the case, go for it because even if we only get 40 or 50 games out of him, it's still a bargain.

    I'd say that both Carter and Peca are out of the price range that JFJ has in mind, but Wellwood and Stajan should be able to hold the fort on the 3rd line.

    Antropov's definitely trade bait, but really I can't imagine too many buyers are out there with the wealth of FA forwards that were on the market just last week. I'd say he'll still be there for training camp.

    Interesting that people are dropping Tellqvist like a hot coal. He didn't play well last year, but between him and Aubin I'd still play Telly.

     
  • At 4:28 PM, Blogger ninja said…

    exile,

    The thing with Telly was that even in his wins, at times he appeared lost; a mental picture of him spinning wildly trying to find the puck. Not exactly a demonstration of the type of composure and anticipation expected of a starting tender. But, I don't know why he seemed so jittery. Maybe it was knowing Eddie was going to be a insufferable bitch after the game. We'll see in a few weeks if his play improves sans-Belfour.

    Sorry about the delay in responding to your comment. They are most welcome and appreciated.

     

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