FanPost

Future of the Toronto Maple Leafs Part 3 - Players Under Contract

Hello my fellow long-suffering Leaf fans!  This season is done in all but name.  We aren't making the Playoffs, and are unlikely to even play our way out of a Draft Lottery position.  I have been watching the Leafs since 1989 and this is by far the worst season(results wise) that I have ever seen. 

This team is bad, but I think it is actually better than the results show.  I am not going to make excuses or offer reasons for the lousy play.  This season has been Murphy's Law for the team - anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. 

This is one of a series of four posts in an attempt to gain some consensus in the community on how to build next year's team.

The first of the four posts will be 'Pending Free Agents'  in which we will discuss what to do with our UFA's this year.  The debate will center on their trade value, how much we would re-sign them for, or if we let them walk.

The second will be 'Pending Restricted Free Agents.'  The discussion will be based around if we should trade them, sign them(money and term), the possibility of other teams tendering offer sheets, and what role do we see them having on next year's team(Depth placement, another season in the Marlies ETC.)  Also, this is probably the best place to discuss our prospects and if any of them have a chance to make the Leafs out of training camp.

The third post is titled 'Players Under Contract.'  Here we will speculate on what should be done with our signed players - Trade them, buy them out/waive them or keep them.

In the fourth post 'Free Agent Frenzy' we will touch upon what might still be available and who could potentially be a good fit for our team. 

Please be aware that these posts are interconnected.  Although we are focusing on one thing at a time, be mindful that there is a big picture to consider.  This is a discussion on how we would like to see our team built.  Speculation is welcome - crazy deals and flights of fancy are discouraged.  Let's try to stay within the realms of reasonable possibility.

Credit where credit is due:   Basic information(Height, Weight etc) and other league info - NHL.com & various team sites (glovetap to Steve)  Cap and salary figures - nhlnumbers.com Capgeek.com  Statistics - NHL.com  Marlies stats -torontomarlies.com

First off, I know that Part 3 - Players Under Contract - has been a long time in coming.  On my road of life I encountered some speed bumps.  I won't bore you with the details, but things are smoothing out now.  I figured the Olympic trade freeze day would be as good as any to move to part 3.  If you want to check out Part  1 and Part 2 - click on them for the links(note, I did not change them to reflect what has happened - it helps me keep my perspective.)  Part 4 - Free Agent Frenzy will be up after the trade deadline on March 3, mostly because I have no clue what Brian Burke plans on doing and I don't want him to make ALL of my work on these posts obsolete!

So, we have seen some pretty big changes go down with the Leafs.  The impact of the new players we acquired has been important, but let's not over look how these changes have affected the players who are still here.  A lot of addition by subtraction seems to have given jump to our remaining guys.

Let's start with one of our new players:

Jean-Sebastien Giguere

Position:  G  Age 32  HT 6'1"  Wt 202  Catches L Salary/Cap Hit:  6.0/6.0

2008-2009

League     GP  W     L   OT/SL  GA   SV%   SO

NHL(ANA) 46   19    18     6       3.10  .900    2

2009-2010

League     GP  W     L   OT/SL  GA   SV%   SO

NHL(ANA) 20  4       8      5       3.14   .900    1

NHL(TML)  3     2      1      0       1.01   .965    2

My take:  I'm not here to evaluate the trade (it was awesome), just the player.  Giggy is a former Conn Smythe winner and Stanley Cup Champion who has made 2 runs to the finals.  His level of play over the past few seasons has noticeably declined until he finally lost his starting job to Jonas Hiller.  He has had some personal adversity that is well documented and might have had a role in his decline.  Let's face it - he is only 32 years old and didn't just forget how to be a good goalie.  That said, don't rely on the numbers he has posted in his first 3 games with the Leafs - that pace is not sustainable.  Also, don't expect him to return to the form that saw him carry Anaheim on their first cup run.  He just needs to put up average numbers with the Leafs for the remainder of his contract.  I fully expect that Giguere can be a solid starter in the NHL again.  He has a fresh start with Toronto and now we can only wait and see how much of his form he can regain.

Dion Phaneuf

Position:  D  Age 24  HT 6'3"  Wt 214  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:  6.5/6.5

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(CGY) 80    11  36    47  -11  100         4        26:31

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(CGY) 55    10  12    22   3    63           5         23:14

NHL(TML)   4      0    2      2    1     5            0         25:29

My take:  This one caught most of us by surprise.  When I first heard the news that we traded for Dion I was shocked (not in a good way) and I didn't believe it.  Then I found out the details of the trade and became intrigued.  How good this trade is will be entirely dependant on how Phaneuf develops over the next few seasons.  If he can even reach 80% of his potential, this will have been a pretty good move.  I see Dion as a hard hitting, hard shooting D-man who will log big minutes and can change the direction of a game.  His success will strongly depend on how the team plays around him.  If he pinches in, the high forward will need to identify this and back off to avoid odd man rushes.  Other players will need to learn how Dion plays his game and then adjust around this.  He has some flaws to his game but he is only 24 and has the potential to be an elite defenceman.  His big salary comes with big expectations - if he can live up to that then his future here will be bright.  Before I get comments like ‘He is overpaid and will be run out of town like McCabe.'  McCabe was given his big contract much later in his career (after a career year stats-wise) and therefore could not live up to it.  Also, Dion was nominated for a Norris trophy at the age of 22.  They are not the same player and I hope Phaneuf can become the player we need him to become - no pressure, though.

Tomas Kaberle

Position:  D  Age 31  HT 6'1"  Wt 214  Shoots Rarely Salary/Cap Hit:  4.25/4.25

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          57      4    27   31   -8    8           3          23:27

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          60      6   40    46  -9     18         3          22:42

My take:  Tomas is the longest serving Leaf - that may change before the end of this summer.  He is beloved by many Leaf fans - and generally well liked by the rest of them.  Kaberle's strengths are his ability to move the puck, his passing skills and QB'ing the power play.  He has never been a physical D-man and he rarely engages in puck battles.  His ability to defend against attacking players is - at best - average.  The little thing that I have noticed is Thomas rarely ices the puck and has an uncanny ability to get a shot on net from nearly 200 feet away.  The big debate is whether he is more valuable to the Leafs as a member of the team or for the assets he could bring back in a trade.  This is a complicated issue that I'll only touch upon here as it has been discussed ad nauseam on this site.  My personal opinion has always been pretty simple:  If we can get rid of the Jeff Finger salary and re-sign Thomas to a discount deal then we need to make that happen.  If Kaberle wants market value for his services or we can't find a way to move Finger, than Kaberle needs to be traded.  If I were Brian Burke I would want a premium return for Kaberle - at least a first round pick and a prospect with top 6 potential.  Personally, I like the guy and would be overjoyed if we could keep him and make it work.  I don't see this happening as Burke seems determined to move out all remaining vestiges of previous administrations coupled with the fact that Kaberle will never command a greater trade value than this year.  Either way you must look upon Kaberle as being one of the best Leaf Defencemen of all time.

Jeff Finger

Position:  D  Age 30  HT 6'1"  Wt 209  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit:  3.5/3.5

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          66     6    17    23  -7     43         0          20:29

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          30      2     7     9   -12   16          0         14:45

My take:  Upon learning of the signing of Finger by Cliff Fletcher, everyone's first reaction was ‘Who?'  followed immediately by ‘HOW MUCH???'  Sadly, this sums up his career with the Leafs over the past two seasons.  Finger was supposed to be the guy who would help out our defensive side of the game.  Unfortunately, he has not played good enough to justify his roster spot - let alone his cap hit.  He seems to be a more expensive, less physical Woz.  If he wasn't on the Leafs I would feel kind of bad for him, but since he is a Leaf I just want to see him go away.  He makes mistakes that a defensive D-man shouldn't.  He's only 30 and looks old and slow out there.  He has to be considered the worst contract currently on Toronto's roster and it might take some Burkian genius to rid us of this boat anchor.  The irony is we can't give this Finger to anyone - no matter how badly we want to.

Mike Komisarek

Position:  D  Age 28  HT 6'4"  Wt 243  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit:  4.0/4.5(some LTIR cap relief)

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(MTL) 66     2     9    11   0     121        0          20:37

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(TML) 34     0    4      4    -9    40          0         19:56

My take:  Komi was acquired by Burke to be the defensive D-man that Cliff thought Finger could be.  First, let's talk about what he isn't.  He isn't a guy who is going to put up points, he isn't a guy who should be relied up on to fight.  Mike is the guy you want defending against the other team's big line.  He was picked up to be a shutdown guy.  When he is at his best he is a physical, gritty player who doesn't give much room to the opposition.  He is an average skater at best, but he is usually a pretty good positional player.  He had a horrible start to this season (as did the rest of the team) as it seems he was trying to do too much.  His effectiveness was further reduced by a nagging shoulder injury that inevitably required season ending surgery.  I was against signing him because I thought he was a douchey Habs player.  Personally though, the guy seems really likeable.  Hopefully he has a fresh start next year with his bionic shoulder and he can be that top unit shut down guy that he was billed to be.

Francois Beauchemin

Position:  D  Age 29  HT 6'0"  Wt 213  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit: 4.2/3.8

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(ANA)  20     4    1      5    -3    12           0       24:54

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL         60       5    18   23  -12    27           4       25:24

My take:  Beauchemin missed most of last year with a torn ACL but was an important piece in Anaheim's 2008 cup run.  He too had a bad start to the season, as it appeared he was trying to impress his new team by doing too much.  Some say that his stats over the years were padded because he was insulated by great defencemen like Pronger and Niedermayer.  This is actually a fair argument to make but let's reserve judgment until at least the end of this season.  He was brought in to be a two-way D-man who could be used in a variety of situations.  Beauchemin is a tough, physical player who also has a great shot from the point.  In the few games he has played since the trades, he has shown flashes of what we saw with the Ducks.  Let's see how his play develops down the stretch and into next year.

Luke Schenn

Position:  D  Age 20  HT 6'2"  Wt 215  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit: .875/2.975(2.1 bonuses)

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          70      2    12   14  -12   71          1         21:32

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          57      4    8     12   3     41          0         15:49

My take:  Well, for a guy having a sophomore slump, take at look at his stats for last year.  He is averaging almost 6 full minutes less of ice time than he was last year.  Yes, he did get 3 points (2 goals) in one game which pads the stats and the information above does not show some of his costly mistakes this season, but he has not ‘regressed' as much as many think.  Again, the whole team started off craptastic this year and Luke was no exception.  It seemed that a combination of reduced ice time, inferior (for the most part) defensive partners and a lack of confidence really affected his game.  After being banished to the press box for a few games, he seemed to respond.  Even before the trade, he had been steadily getting better.  His decision-making seemed to improve and he started to get more confident in his ability to make a hit or join the rush.  I don't see any need to rush him into a top 4 spot this year.  It's possible he won't be able to crack the top 4 next year, either.  This kid is getting on-the-job training and will still be a young man when he takes over a more prominent role on our blue line.  Let's all of us enjoy the steady progression of his career as this team improves with him and around him.

Carl Gunnarsson

Position:  D  Age 23  HT 6'2"  Wt 196  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:   .63/.626

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI  

SEL           53     6    10   16   6      26          ?          ?

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          21      1    6      7    4     4           0          21:16

My take:  Carl was not even on the radar for making the NHL this year.  He had a fantastic camp and made the team on those merits.  We were all impressed with his poise on the ice - he certainly did not look out of place on an NHL blueline.  His time with the team was cut short as he hyperextended his elbow during a game in the beginning of December.  He and Schenn have the best +/- on the blue line this year.  Take into consideration that they are generally not playing against the strongest players the opposition has to offer, but it is impressive nonetheless.  I have rarely seen him make a glaring mistake, either with or without the puck.  He makes good, smart plays clearing the zone and has good puck handling skills.  He just seems to be a well-rounded player who has some offensive upside.  Carl, being paired with Schenn, looks to have helped Luke find his game.  Gunarrson has been a pleasant surprise for most of us, so much so that he has solidified his hold on a roster spot for the foreseeable future.  This is his first year in the NHL and he is only 23 - we still don't know where his potential tops out. 

Fredrik Sjostrom

Position:  LW/RW  Age 26  HT 6'1"  Wt 218  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:   .75/.75

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(NYR) 79     7    6     13  -11   30          0        12:10

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(CGY) 46     1    5      6    2      8           0          9:31

NHL(TML)   3      0    2     2     1      0          0          16:23

My take:  I admit, I know very little about this guy.  He is billed as a defensive forward and penalty kill specialist.  From the little that I have seen, he looks like a decent addition to the team.  I am most impressed with his skating ability - both on the fore check and getting back to the defensive zone.  Also, he is willing to go into the corners and along the boards to battle for the puck.  Let's face it we needed a lot of help on our PK.  Although we can't place all of our turnaround on the PK at Freddy's feet, he has contributed to the amazing improvement in that regard recently.  We'll know more about ‘Shoestrings' as the season progresses to know where he fits into the line up next season.

Mikail Grabovski

Position:  C  Age 26  HT 5'11"  Wt 183  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:  2.75/2.9

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          78     20   28   48   -8    92          6        16:13

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          42      7    18   25   -1    4            1         16:32

My take:  The tale of two Mikails - What happened to Grabovski?  It seems like night and day from this year to last.  Last season he was all over the ice, taking penalties (and drawing them) scoring goals - he was like Darcy Tucker Lite.  He had a crazy look in his eyes and ran his mouth a lot.  This year, he seemed so much more subdued.  He took less penalties (a LOT less) he was on pace to have slightly more points than last year - but they were mostly assists.  He is currently recovering from a broken wrist, but the big question is which Grabovski will we see when he comes back?  As a centre, we have had a hard time figuring out where he slots in.  His skill level and style of play makes him more suited to be a 2nd line centre, but we seem to have other players ready to step into that role.  We are lacking a legitimate #1 centre (although Bozak is trying to prove otherwise) so where does Grabs fit?  Some have speculated that he should be moved to the wing, others think we should try and trade him.  I honestly don't know what the answer is - I just hope we can figure out the enigma that is Micky Grabs so we can play him where his most effective. 

Tyler Bozak

Position:  C  Age 23  HT 6'1"  Wt 195  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit:  .875/3.725 (some deferred, bonus & AHL)

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

WCHA      19      8    15    23  14    10          ?           ?

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

AHL          32      4    16    20  -8     6            1           ?

NHL          15      3     8     11   2     2            0        17:18

My take:  Tyler Bozak looks to be one of those rare individuals that looks better playing in the NHL than in the AHL.  A sought after college free agent, he signed with Toronto to start his professional career.  His modest point production in the AHL may have been due to the fact he contracted H1N1 during the season.  From what I have seen, this kid has jam.  He's a great skater with excellent hockey sense.  Not only can he pass the puck, but his first ever NHL goal was a beauty to behold.  I am not sure he will be able to retain his top line centre status going into next year, but he certainly has the potential to be a top 6 player for the Leafs.  He has clicked with Kessel and there seems to be a great deal of chemistry there, so who knows how this will play out. I won't deny that I am excited to see what he and Kessel can do down the stretch.

Jay Rosehill

Position:  C  Age 24  HT 6'3"  Wt 215  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:  .5/.21 (AHL time)

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

AHL(NFK) 57     5     7     12   5     221          ?          ?

AHL(TML) 13     2     1      3    -1     54           ?          ?

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

AHL           13     2     1     3    -1     54            ?          ?

NHL           14     1     1     2    -2     57            0      6:16 

My take:  Jay Rosehill is a 4th line mucker.  He is there to make some hits, create some energy, fore check and try and pin the opponents in their zone, and fight when the occasion arises.  Rosehill is depended upon to eat some minutes and not do anything stupid and over all he has done a good job.  He isn't the best fighter in the league, but he can hold his own most nights.  Although he generally won't make a big impact in the game you can rely upon the fact he will work hard every shift.  Every team needs a few guys like him.  On the upside - he is young and does what is expected of him.  Also - he is the best pole to pole (if you don't understand this then you need to do some research - funny as hell.)

Colton Orr

Position:  C  Age 27  HT 6'3"  Wt 222  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit: 1.0/1.0

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(NYR) 82     1     4     5   -15   193          0        6:29

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL           60     2     2     4    -3    129         0         6:41

My take:  Orr was brought in to be our heavyweight because Burke was tired of watching our players get pushed around.  Orr isn't the premiere fighter in the League, but he is pretty good.  Excepting the shellacking he got in the game against San Jose, he rarely loses a fight.  He did have a broken cheekbone for part of the year that made him hesitant to fight, but that seems to have healed.  A fourth line player, he knows his job.  I don't have any problems with the minutes he gets.  Colton does add that level of protection for his teammates, as the opposing heavyweight won't go looking to fight Luke Schenn anymore.

Viktor Stalberg

Position:  LW  Age 24  HT 6'3"  Wt 210  Shoots L Salary/Cap Hit:  .715/.524 (AHL time)

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

HE(VMT)   39    24   22   46  11     32            ?          ?

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

AHL          31     11   18   29   8     30            4           ?

NHL          18      2      1    3    -5     6             0     13:33

My take:  Viktor had an amazing preseason, but he could not duplicate that success in regular NHL games.  His AHL numbers, however, are impressive.  He has blazing speed and normally uses that to his advantage.  He missed some games with a concussion as well as what has been reported as a shoulder injury.  It looks like he will get some time on various lines to try and spark some of his preseason success.  It is unknown what his ceiling is as far as NHL development, but if he can become an NHL regular in even a third line capacity than Burke has basically gotten another NHLer for nothing more than the money it took to sign him.  I have hopes that he has the potential of a top 6 winger.  Perhaps the rest of this season will give us a better idea of where he will fit and give us a good reference point on where he plays next season.

Phil Kessel

Position:  LW  Age 22  HT 5'11"  Wt 180  Shoots R Salary/Cap Hit:  5.4/5.4

2008-2009

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL(BOS) 70    36  24   60   23   16             8       16:33

2009-2010

League     GP    G    A     P   +/-   PIMs     PPG     TOI

NHL          48     21  20    41  -2     11            6       19:35

My take:  First off, one thing about the trade.  There is no way that Burke would ever know in the long run if the picks he traded will be better than the player he received.  My personal motto is "I'd rather regret an action I took than regret not taking action."  I think it applies here.  Phil is on pace to pretty much equal his point totals from last year in the same amount of games played.  Granted, he is ‘only' on pace for 30 goals, but he is also on pace for 29 assists.  We all know the story of how he battled testicular cancer and how he played with a bad shoulder through the playoffs.  We have also heard he has a poor attitude.  I don't even know if he has a personality, let alone an attitude.  Some other knocks against him is that he is a puck hog and without an elite set up man he will struggle to score goals.  Well, those myths have been debunked.  Also, he isn't defensively responsible.  I don't know about anyone else, but I see this guy busting his hump to back-check - and he does a pretty damn good job at it too. 

After missing some time from his offseason shoulder surgery, he came into the Leafs lineup and lit it up.  Unfortunately, the long lay off combined with missing training camp and preseason caught up with him.  He is also getting close to 20% more ice time than he was getting last season.  Recently he started coming around again to score some important goals for the Leafs.  Besides his back-checking, he is under appreciated for his startling passing abilities.  He has produced some amazing set ups to his line mates this season.  If he can stay healthy I can see Kessel being a Gartner-type player.  High energy off the rush combined with a lightning fast release.  I could also see Kessel getting 30+ goals every season for the majority of his career.  If we got that for 2 firsts and a second, I make that trade ANY day.

Well, that was a long post, but hopefully everyone got something out of it.  If you agree with my ramblings, then please let me know.  If you don't agree, I am even more interested to hear about it.  Thanks for reading, part 4 ‘Free Agent Frenzy' will be posted on March 3rd after the trade deadline.  PS - 4500+ word count...almost in JrWendelman territory!

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Pension Plan Puppets

You must be a member of Pension Plan Puppets to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pension Plan Puppets. You should read them.

Join Pension Plan Puppets

You must be a member of Pension Plan Puppets to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Pension Plan Puppets. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9355_tracker