Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Back from Holiday Edition: What did I miss?

As the four or five of you who read this blog know, I took a quick holiday to the west coast for two weeks. I ended up without an internet connection during my time on Vancouver Island and came back to the news of the Wellwood, Tucker and Raycroft moves (and a new found appreciation of just how much time I spend attached to the interwebs).

The Raycroft move is about 10 months too late and about as exciting as stale vanilla pudding.

As I wrote here 18 months ago, extending Tucker was one of JFJ's many blunders, giving him a NMC was unconscionable.

A train wreck at ES, useless on the PK and of declining powers on the PP, I'm fine seeing the back of #16. Before we get to Wellwood, I'll just pause here to await all the angry blog entries on how Tucker's refusal to waive his NMC has hurt the Leafs rebuilding efforts and saddled the club with a six-year cap hit...ok, um, well, moving on...

Wellwood's move to Vancouver is good news for Whitespot franchises in the lower mainland, sports hernia surgeons and the Sedin sisters. Leafs Nation can now sit back and wonder if Wellwood will be this decade's Steve Sullivan: a small forward who puts up big points in the regular season, turns invisible in the playoffs and routinely cited by the media as further evidence of Pat Quinn's MLSE's malfeasance.

Free Agency (not so Free)
I'm guest-hosting over at PPP today and unlike my fellow co-hosts Greener and Chemmy, I like what the Leafs have done with their UFA signings so far.

As rumoured just about everywhere, the Leafs inked Curtis "Methuselah" Joseph to a one-year $700K contract.

It's not a blockbuster/showstopper/wow sort of signing, but it buys Pogge one more year in the minors, gives the Leafs some cap space and keeps Peddie and Tannenbaum happy as it will sell lots of jerseys. (Look for the Leafs marketing department to squeeze every promotional once out of this signing and look for Curtis Joseph's massive eyebrows to be gracing all things Leaf).

Joseph put up a sv % of .906 to Raycroft's .876 (no, that's not a typo) and a GAA of 2.55 to Raycroft's 3.92. If Cujo can put up similar numbers in spot duty to Toskala, he will be a much welcome presence.

In terms of the cap, Raycroft's buyout of $533,000 and Cujo's bottom-dollar $700K salary combines for a paltry $1.233M cap hit for backup goaltending. Remarkably, that's one million fewer dollars than MLSE paid Raycroft to sleep on the bench (and sleep through the few portions of the games he played) last year. A nice savings and a nice change of pace...

The Leafs second signing of the day is a bit more contentious. The Leafs signed Jeff Finger to a 4 year, $14M deal that carries a $3.5M annual cap hit.

Finger is a D-man I was really hoping the Leafs would sign (albeit for $2M per year).

He finished the season playing on the top defensive pair in Colorado and is an ideal #3 or 4 guy: great at ES, eats about 20 minutes of ice a night, can hit, blocks shots, is big and tough and has a good right-handed shot from the point.

He may not have played 100 NHL games yet, but he led the Avalanche in on/ice v. off/ice +/-, GF60 and was second in GA60. To put up those stats playing 20 minutes a night makes me a happy man.

Did the Leafs massively overpay? Yes. By a good million to $1.5 million a year (UFAs are always overpaid. It's a sellers market)

Does it matter? No, not with the cap growing to $57M this year. MLSE has piles of money, if the kid doesn't work out MLSE can bury that contract in the minors.

The Leafs ended the day signing former Dallas Stars winger Niklas Hagman to a four year $12M deal that carries a $3M annual cap hit.

Another deal that's a-ok by me.

Hagman has missed fewer games since 2001 than Cola has played (well, maybe not, but it's close). He can play either wing and put up 27 goals last year, including 4 SH markers and 8 game winning goals (leading the Stars in that category). That's solid production for a guy getting 15 minutes of ice per game. He's also only 28 years old.

By my (very poor) math, the team has $9.5(ish) million in cap space at the moment.

That said, Cliff Fletcher told Bill Watters that Bryan McCabe is not in the Leafs' plans for next year. So call it $14.5M in cap space.

Fletcher told Howard Berger that the team would like to add another forward and at least one more defenceman (an unsigned Euro that hasn't played in the NHL - any guesses as to who that might be?) so it should be an interesting few months as the Leafs continue to change the face of their organization.

1 comment:

  1. welcome back, MF37.

    that video of fletch with bill watters you linked to is pretty awesome.


    i wonder how fletch is going to solve the problem known as McCabe.

    i'm with you though, i like the hagman and cujo signings...finger's deal is a little odd considering he doesn't have much of a track record...but a defensive defenseman for the leafs can never be a bad thing, no matter what the price...