Work has kept me away for a few days but not much of substance (that was not anticipated) has happened in Toronto (the rest of the league has been another matter. Crawford moves to get Cloutier as his new # 1 - wonder how that will work out?).
The Leafs have firmly entrenched Andrew Raycroft as their #1 for the forseeable future (until The Sun decides that he will never make it in Toronto?). Kenny Campbell makes a couple of good points.
1- $2M/yr for a starter could turn out to be a great piece of business over the next 3 years (which will see us through most of our $17M/yr defensive commitment. More on salaries and future rammifications tomorrow.)
2- This is as much as goodwill gesture as a good piece of business.
First of all, he earns arbitration rights after next season and it would have cost the Leafs dearly if Raycroft does play well. He's also just two years away from unrestricted free agency.
So this move not only keeps us from getting held for ransom after next season (if it is successful) but it also sets us up well for keeping him after free agency would kick in for our tender. If this first season is successful then JFJ (or his successor) will have two seasons to negotiate an extension. Ideally, it would be done as an extension thereby getting the Leafs a better deal than they would find by waiting until the end of the contract. But let's not waste time discussing errors before they are made.
Also, everyone's favourite lanky Kazakh has signed a one-year deal for about $1M. He was originally offered $950,000 in a two-way deal but exchanged $500,000 (his arbitration deal would have probably been $1.5M) for a one-way deal. On another note: he is +49 for his career?! And +13 last year?!? How? Maybe he is not that bad...
Now a lot of people are Antro-bashers...and with good reason. I have never seen anyone struggle so hard to skate and he is more inconsistent than an Italian talking soccer. But his partnership with Ponikarovsky, especially on the penalty kill, seems ready to bear fruit for the patient. While I have lost patience with Nik on many an occassion I have also seen the potential that has been delayed by multiple knee reconstructions and a variety of other injuries. On the other hand, I will advocate the trading of Carlo Colaiacovo in a future posting (this could be because the World Cup is dominating my thoughts and I hate the Italians but that is a whole other blog) so maybe my patience is selective. Go figure.
In that same Campbell article he suggested that Tie could retire after being bought out (quite the nice golden parachute) and might make a comeback with the Leafs as a goodwill ambassador in the mould of Darryl Sittler.
I think that this is a great idea. While it is unanimously agreed that the faster NHL has left Tie out of his depth, during his decade of service to the Leafs he has become a fan favourite of many and has always been one of, if not the, most dedicated players to the community. On a personal note, Tie sent each member of my peewee hockey team a signed picture to make up for most of the Leafs having skipped Bobby Orr's Easter Seals skate. Stay Classy and stay with the Leafs.
The Big E
No big secret, Eric wants to stay in Toronto and play for his beloved Buds. Lindros carried a big load while Mats was recovering from his eye injury (that really set the tone for the season) and had 22 points in 33 games before having a wrist injury end his season. Almost everyone has heard the rumour of him signing for $750,000 and I would say that that is the top limit on what the Leafs should offer.
He is apparently in great shape and has recovered well from surgery and his willingness to take a paycut shows his desire to be in Toronto. JFJ should harness that desire and sign him before someone offers his something stupid (the salary cap just contains GM's stupidity, it cannot cut it out completely as evidenced by the Leafs themselves).
On a similar thought, normally blinkered and anti-Leafs Damien Cox (that is actually his full name) mentioned that Kubina was offered a $27.5M/5yr deal by the Blues. Thank God we did not match that. Of course it makes the deal seem a little bit better money-wise. Also, he agreed with a couple of my friends and me that the Pronger deal was not worth making.
Two smart things in one article? Start building the bunker, armageddon is on its way.
On a final note Raking Leafs has posted his thoughts on the recent moves as well as his projected lines [thus far] for next season. Soon I'll do the same but for now enjoy his.