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The Fallout

The dust has settled on a hectic final hour on deadline day. Hilariously, Marian Hossa did not end up in either Ottawa or Montreal but with the Penguins. It's a sad day when two such devoted fanbases are not rewarded by a legitimate push for the Cup as both team's GMs decided to stand pat with teams that have shown that they have huge flaws that will keep them from winning the Cup. Instead of trying to improve their teams in order to compete with the Western Conference teams they decided to sit idly by and hope that in the future the West will get worse.

As for the Leafs, Fletcher moved Kilger and Belak to the Panthers for Florida's 3rd and 5th round picks in 2008 and moved Hal Gill to the Penguins for a 2nd in 2008 and a 5th in 2009. In terms of salary The Silver Fox managed to clear $2.975M from next year's cap. More importantly, those moves opened up two roster spots for young players to step into and audition for their futures. Penaltyshotsca's comment reminds me of one of Tyler Dellow's recent post in which he discussed the possibility of the Oilers trading Garon in light of the Oakland Athletics' recent moves:

I took some jabs at Lowe last year for trying to bring the Billy Beane when he doesn't quite get it. Beane made an interesting series of trades this offseason that Lowe should be paying some attention to. He traded Dan Haren (15-9, 137 ERA+, 222.7 IP last year) and Nick Swisher (127 OPS+ in 539 AB last year), despite the fact that the A's owned those guys on cheap contracts for a bit longer. Why did he do this? He did it because the A's weren't going to be competitive with those guys in the lineup and it made sense to transfer what value they might have to the future, when the A's anticipate being a stronger team. The return was a rather large haul of prospects. He's trying to build a team that can compete for a World Series, Haren and Swisher weren't going to be cheap contributors in the window when he perceives success to be likely - they're cashed in for guys who might be. It's the absolute right move to make.

If the optimistic timeline for the Leafs being back to respectability is the 2011-2012 then why would it make sense to keep both players? They were only signed through next season, albeit cheaply, so their value right now would not be higher. Their contributions would have been made during the rebuilding phase so they would be taking a roster spot away from players like Stralman, Kronwall, or any of the Marlies forwards during the time when they should be getting experience. Plus, Kilger and Gill will be 32 and 33 respectively next year. They would be even older by the time fans expect the rebuilding to be over. Why would the team want those guys in 2011-2012 when they are over 35? These deals were the right ones. Not only did the Leafs clear cap space for next season but they also moved Gill's and Kilger's contributions forward to a time when the Leafs will hopefully be challenging for the Cup again.

The Omen once again shows his tenuous grasp on his readers/detractors' ability to remember what happened just over a month ago. While Damien was being embarrassed by Trader Cliff, The Silver Fox was pointing out that the team's significant assets had no-trade clauses in their contracts. He made it very clear that the players were driving the bus since they had negotiated in good faith with the club for that security. Fans, and I was one of them, began dreaming of the moves that could be made but at no point did MLSE or Cliff lead us to believe anything other than that he was following a process and would explore all of his options.

He did his job in asking them if they would consider any moves and he came close with one and ultimately was not able to do anything today. In his post-deadline interview Cliff made it very clear that this was the first step in the process. Part of his job description was to set the table for his successor. He brought in 4 draft picks, cleared roster spots, will move youngsters in to audition, and has gauged interest in four of the other NTC-players. The Omen acts as if this was the trade deadline forever, as if this was the final moves that the Leafs would be able to make. The summer may not bring any significant trades but Cliff made it clear that it would bring significant changes to the team that would start next season. MLSE has put aside money for buyouts or moving players to the minors. This was not a process that would be finished in one day despite what every reporter in Toronto will say. Fletcher did a good job with the hand that he was dealt. How the team finishes the year, who is hired to permanently head the Leafs, and what that person does in the summer will be the next steps.

One thing about the no-trade clauses, Mats and Tomas earned their right to refuse to waive them. Darcy Tucker has either been terrible or injured for the most of the season. If it's the former then he has been stealing his paycheque. If it's the latter then he cheated his team of the chance to have a healthy player in the lineup while he recovered. Either way, he needs to get operated on or smarten up for next year. Same goes with Bryan McCabe and Pavel Kubina. Since they decided to stand in the way of the team's rebuilding because they want to be Leafs and want to be a part of the franchise going forward then they need to show a renewed commitment to their fitness and their hockey otherwise they better waive those NTCs.