*disclaimer - I am commenting on a combination of recent moves. I am not flaming Burke, as I like lots of his moves so please keep in mind I am doing my best to be fair and balanced, not inflammatory. Also this is my first BLOG post ever, so things might look a bit screwy
Looking @ recent events in Leafland, there has been a lots of chatter as usual. There has been a variety of moves this summer, and no doubt are inspiring a variety of emotions.
Two moves have caught my eye recently, especially since there was some overlap of assets in them.
First off there was the trade with Atlanta where Pavel Kubina & Tim Stapleton were shipped off for Garnet Exelby and Colin Stuart. A classic salary dump where Kubina's skill and $5mil was swapped for Exelby's grit and $1.4 cap hit. I know, none of this equals new information, but the domino effect of the move has largely been ignored.
Second would of course be the Anton Stralman trade, which I'll address further down.
I wont go into the less than stellar return Burke got for a 40pt 100PIM D Kubina, as we could argue cap impact, UFA status, future worth, etc till the cows come home. For mixed fun the fact he was moved to make room for Mike Komisarek's large UFA deal and the production disparity, will also be ignored. Afterall they are different players who play a different game. We need to @ least give the new corps a chance to play before voting on them. No fun for you!
What I would instead like to visit is the roster space issue, and the domino effect of Exelby as the primary return. By taking an NHL roster player back in Exelby, and adding Komisarek and Beauchimin via UFA to an already crowded Toronto blue line corps, Burke forced his own hand. I think he's reacted poorly with the result being the Stralman trade.
First, let's set things up with a fair projection of Toronto's blue line next yr.
With apologies to The Star's Paul Hunter , the worst I think Stralman should be is the 7th of this group in 2009 for a few reasons. I'm assuming the 8th guy is going to get press box, injury time, waived or traded.
Now the Leafs are rebuilding, another secret revealed, I know. Keeping the rebuilding mold in mind, you would think Burke would be considering his long term youth. Specifically Ian White and Anton Stralman who are hitting RFA status in 2010. After all the Leafs are losing a lot of pieces to UFA next yr. Van Ryan, Frogren (minors?) and Exelby as well as numerous forwards. That leaves White and Stralman as the in-house options with NHL seasoning.
I would contend that unless White comes in under $3mil, he's likely gone via trade or RFA offer as well. He's certainly not a top 4 guy in a signed longterm core of Komisarek, Schenn, Beauchimin, and in todays cap world one doesn't pay your #5 Dman $3mil a yr.
Let's not even talk about the pending gap in the #1 slot, but I think once Kaberle is gone Burke will either trade for, or sign, a replacement via UFA. Hopefully like he did with a player the caliber of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer. (not saying he'll repeat those moves, but one can dream)
Comparing White's pending 2010 RFA payday with Stralman's I think the numbers will be lower for Stralman, making him an ideal piece to retain. With less service time and no upcoming UFA yrs it's feasible he would come in under $2mil for multiple yrs. Long term or short term doesn't hurt Toronto as Burke would have controled Stralman as an RFA @ the end of his next deal whereas White will be a UFA after his next contract. It's a fair statement we lost a cheap asset we control long term..
Something similar to Braydon Coburn's last contract which was 2yrs $1.3mil caphit would have been ideal. (inflation notwithstanding)
Ahhh, and we get to the meat of it. Now in trading with Wadell, has Burke forced himself into repeating one of Wadell's flagship mistakes in his Atlanta tenure? Thrashers fan are no doubt about to cringe as I remind you of the Braydon Coburn deal. There are some eerie similarities here that deserve comparison.
Both were young @ the time they were dealt, beloved prospects by a fair amount of each fanbase, with questionable return. (ignoring the 1st round vs late round gem disparity)
The comparison is regarding contract terms, it's not about production comparison but what the market for a young D with lower NHL service gets in his first RFA yr. As well as factoring in the similar development curves. I'm not saying one is better than the other, as they play a different game
Anton Stralman Stats
07/08 - 20pts in 71 combined AHL/NHL games
08/09 - 29pts in 74 combined AHL/NHL games
NHL totals 4G 18A 22pts over 88gms in his first 2 seasons.
Those numbers are pretty good for a guy getting bottom line time and not much special teams in either situation.
Compare with Coburn's production the first part of his NHL career.
Braydon Coburn's Stats
05/06 27pts in 82 combined AHL/NHL games
06/07 22pts in 64 combined AHL/NHL games
NHL totals (first 2 yrs) 3G 9A 12pts over 58gms first 2 yrs.
Add in the first 30games of 07/08 (so we have 88gms each) 2G 11A 13PT in the first 30gm of 2007 which gives him a total of 5G 20A 25pts over 88gms.
Getting away from the parallels of the two players, I'd like to revisit the Kubina/Exelby trade.
It certainly didn't create the logjam in Toronto, but it did nothing to address it. This is where I feel errors were made and forced the erroneous movement of Stralman.
Looking at the assets flowing out, Burke moved Kubina, Stralman, Stapleton, Stuart and recieved Exelby, Primeau, CGY 2nd 2011
One would expect Kubina to elicit more than $3.6 in salary cap relief, and the deal plus Burke's UFA moves left a roster change of plus one in the rear as opposed to the desired subtraction. Now his UFA moves did build a solid core around Schenn, but the process has failed to address the considerable gaps in 2010 and forward.
With so many assets approaching UFA or RFA, Burke has moved two of his primary trade pieces in Stralman and Kubina without any impact on the team's rebuilding process. It would have been more prudent to let Stralman find his game in the 5th-7th slots @ a cheap price going into 2010 and forward, or using him and Kubina to provide more youth in security.
Instead the Leafs find themselves loaded with low quality forwards, expiring vet contracts, and a mid-2nd rounder they may or may not draft in 2 years. It's a long time between now and 2011...and these moves have done nothing to fill the roster gaps in the meantime. Nor are they clearing 2010 cap space as all the deals involved are UFA or RFA in 2010.