Today's Noon Number is 10, which signifies something that is absolutely astounding and a fundamental symptom of what many of us can't stand about this iteration of Maple Leaf management. 10 is the opportunity cost of their obsession with fighters. It represents the number of NHL calibre forwards that have been cast aside since Brian Burke was fired and Dave Nonis promoted, in order to keep our goon-laden 4th line.
Consider the following list of forwards no longer with the organization since Nonis took over.
Matthew Lombardi, traded to Phoenix for a conditional 4th round pick in 2014.
Tim Connolly, waived and assigned to the AHL.
Mike Brown, traded to Edmonton for a conditional 4th round pick in 2014.
David Steckel, traded to Anaheim for a middling prospect and a 7th round pick in 2014.
Mikhail Grabovski, bought out
Clarke MacArthur, not re-signed.
Ryan Hamilton, not re-signed.
Leo Komarov, not re-signed (RFA rights retained)
Matt Frattin, traded to Los Angeles as part of the trade for Jonathan Bernier.
Joe Colborne, traded over the weekend to Calgary for a 4th round pick in 2014.
First things first, allow me to explain that I am perfectly aware of the mitigating circumstances surrounding several of these transactions. I even agreed with the departure of a number of them or at least understand the logic behind them.
There were cap implications in the decisions to remove Lombardi and Connolly, particularly since they allowed for the promotion of Nazem Kadri. It's charitable to consider Mike Brown as better than either of McLaren or Orr. Hamilton is, by all accounts, a 4A player (and ironically enough, was waived on Sunday by the Oilers who have their own hilarious fetish with goons). Komarov wanted more money than he was worth in his role.
Each single solitary move, you could make an argument as to why it made sense, if you ignore one simple fact; there are salary cap and roster limits. Every move that you choose to make or not make, is indirectly related to another move. The decision to move Player X instead of Player Y means that, even at the most indirect level, you think that Player Y has value to the future of your hockey team. Or, at least more value than Player X, because If Player X was really that important, you wouldn`t be moving him.
The Joe Colborne trade, and the inevitable subsequent defence of it I've seen in some corners of Twitter, rests on Colborne's waiver status. While technically correct that Colborne would have been exposed to waivers to go to the Marlies, and while certainly plausible that somebody would have claimed him, this theory doesn't pass the smell test because of one simple fact; the Leafs are keeping Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren (currently injured) on their roster.
Joe Colborne, even if he never reaches his potential when he was drafted in the 1st round, is a better NHL hockey player than those two put together.
The Leafs are facing massive issues with their salary cap, possibly forced to carry less than the minimum roster to begin the season (partly because of McLaren`s injury and David Clarkson's suspension). Joe Colborne is young and at worst an effective fourth line option, and more importantly, his contract is cheap as all hell.
The Leafs have essentially overhauled more than half of their forwards in nine months since Nonis took over. The end result is that nearly a full lineup of forwards has been let go for virtually nothing. All so two guys who bring nothing more than 6 minutes a night of chasing a puck around their own end until they can find a fight get to stay in the lineup.