Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A White Sports Coat

Once you told me long ago, to the dance with me you'd go. Now you've changed your mind it seems, someone else will hold my dreams...

I have to say I’m really tired of all the talk surrounding Mats Sundin. If people want to blame a player for not waiving a no trade clause, look no further than Pavel Kubina.

Kubina allegedly agreed to waive his NTC, only to renege after the Senators game. Fletcher speaks to it in his news conference (available here) and again during his phoner with Bob McCowan, Steven Brunt and Neil Smith on the Fan590 (available as an MP3 here - full warning, this link has crashed my computer so please proceed with caution).

Kubina has since come out and claimed it was all a misunderstanding - perhaps he thought Fletcher was talking about a fantasy hockey trade in their keeper pool...gotta think Kubina is the first man traded when the window opens in his no-trade clause on July 1.

Want another black hat or two to vent on? I'll see that Kubina and raise you a JFJ and MLSE. I’m not sure who was the architect and who was the general contractor of this mess (and I’m not sure that it matters) but if either had an ounce of competence the re-build would have started as early as the end of the lock-out and certainly no later than last year’s trade deadline.

Had Tucker and McCabe been dealt when they were impending UFAs, Leafs Nation would be talking about the up and coming kids in the system and whether or not Mats would be sticking around to play with the emerging young talent.

Instead, Sundin’s reputation has been questioned, the team is still saddled with four NTCs, four more years of 11 goal scorer Jason Blake at $4M a year and nearly $5M tied up in Raycroft and Bell* never mind the number of picks that have been burned to find a competent goalie.

Bottom line: managerial incompetence, not Sundin, is the real issue here and Leaf fans shouldn't lose sight of that.


My thoughts on the Leaf Trades (in 35 words or less) have been posted over at Slap Shots in the NYT. You can find the Belak deal here and the Kilger and Gill deals here.


Best trade deadline print coverage is hands-down in the Globe. Brunt files a great piece on the absurdity of JFJ, and Shoaltsy follows with a good summary of Fletcher's remarks and what it might mean for the Leafs.


With the trade deadline out of the way, I thought I’d address what’s really important for the Leafs – the Odds of winning the draft lottery.

As per Exhibit 4 in the CBA, the NHL holds a lottery for all 14 teams that do not qualify for the post-season. The lower a team places in the standings, the greater their odds of winning the lottery.

Team 1 (Last place overall) has a 25.0% chance of winning the #1 pick
Team 2 has an 18.8% chance of winning the #1 pick
Team 3 has a 14.2% chance of winning the #1 pick
Team 4 has a 10.7% chance of winning the #1 pick
Team 5 has an 8.1% chance of winning the #1 pick

While all 14 teams do have a chance of winning the lottery (the 14th team has a 0.5% chance of being selected) teams can only move up four (4) places in the draft and can only drop one spot.

So if the #6 team wins the lottery, the draft order would be:
1st pick to the team in last place overall
2nd pick to the 6th team (lottery winner)
3rd pick to the 2nd worst team
4th pick to the 3rd worst team
5th pick to the 4th worst team etc.

Currently, the Leafs are 26th in the NHL, which gives them an 8.1% chance of winning the first overall pick in the draft lottery.


*Here's the big question: will Raycroft and Bell be waived the day after the Leafs regular season ends - that's the last day to waive a player; Or will they be waived in mid-September when the waiver wire re-opens? I'm going to guess Raycroft goes on the last day of the year and Bell is left twisting until that whole prison-thing is sorted out (there's a sentence I never thought I'd type).


  1. Anonymous10:41 am

    Why does Maurice keep playing Toskala so much when it lessens our chances of getting a better pick? I understand honour code and playing to your best but does he have to start every game? If there is any chance of someone trading for Raycroft as a back-up (hey JFJ might get a job somwhere else and want him, he did win a Leaf record 37 games)better to play him a little without pressure and see if he can play at all.

    Also yes management deserves most of the blame for the mess. But Sundin could have made things a lot better by agreeing to move. He derseves a piece of the blame for his part.

  2. Part of me thinks Maurice is trying to save his skin and is going to do everything possible to win games - even if that means risking Toskala's groin.

    But maybe he just doesn't like back-up goalies. He started Raycroft almost 70 games last year and we all know how that worked out...

  3. Anonymous3:34 pm

    hebsie99: Get off Sundin's back!! It's not his fault that Leaf management has been incompetent for over a decade. It's not his fault that JFJ gave out those ridiculous contracts to Kubina, McCabe, and Blake, made horrible, devastating trades (Raycroft), and was unable to properly evaluate talent (he was apparently going to resign Belak for another year). Yes, Sundin could have made a difference by accepting a trade, but that is not the same as being responsible for the problem. If JFJ had done his job properly, Fletcher wouldn't have had to ask Sundin to waive his no trade clause.

    As for starting Toskala, what kind of a message would it be to the young players on the team if Maurice started playing Raycroft? Everyone on the team has zero confidence in this guy and it would, rightly, be seen as a sign that the team was throwing in the towel. Is that the kind of message you want to send to your future, that it's okay to give up and accept defeat? Even though this latest surge may screw them out of a high draft pick, if it instills a winning attitude and desire in the young players on this team, I'll happily take that.

    Besides, do you honestly think that playing Raycroft can do anything but decrease his already non-existent value? We know he will fail if given the chance. Better to let him sit on the bench for the rest of the season and hope some GM out there forgets why he didn't play. The Leafs should instead be sending DVDs with highlights of Raycroft's Calder winning season out to every GM over the summer.

  4. Anonymous1:55 pm

    Paul Maurice is auditioning for his next coaching gig. It doesn't hurt his cause by getting a terrible hockey team to play some good hockey down the stretch dispite the fact that the games mean nothing. I don't think someone in his position can afford to encourage his team to tank it. Right now he isn't thinking about the team, only himeself and who can blame him.

  5. Explain to me why it would be benificial to trade Pavel Kubina now, and why we should be upset that he didnt waive.

    The guy is not overpriced considering his age, accomplishments, experience and size. Think about the market when the contract was signed, and players like Souray, Hamerlik, Johnsson, were all signed to larger term contracts for more money. Kubina has outperformed all the above at both ends of the ice.

    Kubina has been through a few nagging injuries in both Leaf years that have slowed him down, but he has been the Leafs top 2 defencemen.

    Trading him now would have meant we would have got stuck with MacCLearn who has been a bust ever since he was drafted by the Bruins.

    There is still an option to trade him in the summer if all else fails.

  6. Leafer - As you concluded, there is still an option to trade Kubina this summer. If you and I have a difference of opinion here, the difference is about 15 games worth...

    That said, this year's draft is supposeldy the deepest in 10 years. The window to trade Kubina doesn't open until after the draft has happened. If the Leafs were going to get picks or assets that could be turned into higher draft picks in return for Kubina, the trade deadline was the optimal time to move him.

  7. Anonymous4:11 pm

    Wow. I agree 100%. This is a management problem. Let's not be dumping on a classy guy like Mats Sundin. He didn't sign himself or anybody else to a NTC, and he didn't sign Blake or acquire Raycroft and Bell.

    Bang on. Excellent analysis.