So, by now we all know that Montreal and Cliff Fletcher have worked out an agreement that gives the Habs the exclusive right to talk to Sundin. What isn't clear is what the Leafs will get in return if Sundin does sign with them before July 1st. I've heard Higgins mentioned, but I've also heard a 1st round draft pick, or a 2nd round pick. Even less clear, is what the Leafs would recieve, if anything, if Sundin doesn't sign with Montreal.
Are most people assuming that if Montreal fails to woo our former captain that the Leafs are then out of luck? Why should that be? I suggest that even if Mats gives Montreal the back of his hand and tells them to screw off, or even if he retires and never plays again, the Leafs are entitled to expect something in return for doing this favour.
Now, obviously if Sundin does sign with Montreal, what the Leafs recieve should be significantly better then if he doesn't. But it's the value of what we recieve, not whether we recieve anything, that should be the condition. As I see it, Montreal has already received something from us, and succesful or not, it's currently something the Rangers and the Red Wings don't have. It's an opportunity. An exclusive entitlement to approach one of the biggest names in the sport. It's a reason for Gainey to get on a plane to Sweden. It's something for Montreal media to write about. It's a spark of excitment and hope for Montreal fans. What is this worth? Don't tell me if Sundin decides he doesn't want to play for a hated division rival that we still get nothing for giving Gainey such a gift? Is it our problem if he oversleeps and misses the flight? Should MapleLeaf fans suffer if, by accident, he insults the Swedish Royal family? Doesn't seem right to me that our future is contingent on Bob Gainey's salesmanship and ability to hit the home run.
Here comes the whole point of this piece: What is fair value for this unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime, there's-never-been-an-opportunity-quite-like-it before, opportunity the Leafs have sold the Canadians? Let's just get "nothing" out of the way as the first suggestion. Wrong answer. Here's my suggestion: Leafs should get a 2nd round pick, regardless of whether Sundin signs or not, which maybe then gets bumped up to a 1st round pick if he does. Here's my other suggestion: We get Higgins if Sundin signs; Montreal takes Raycroft if he doesn't.