Francois Beauchemin was acquired July 6th 2009 for cash. Today Brian Burke pulled the trigger and moved the Leafs' #1 minute eater for Joffrey Lupul, a conditional pick and Jake Gardiner. Forget Lupul, a toss in to make the salary work, what the Leafs have done is convert a UFA signing into the
18th 17th overall pick in the 2008 draft.
Make no mistake; the Leafs got a lot worse in the short term. Luke Schenn, Dion Phaneuf and Tomas Kaberle already play a lot of minutes. Brett Lebda and Mike Komisarek are going to get a lot more ice time but this deal is about the future. Follow me across the jump to see why this is good news for Leafs fans.
1. Beauchemin was an alternate captain. This suggests that Burke may be willing to move his 2009 UFA alternate captains, or more to the point Toronto might be able to bury Komisarek in the minors or trade him for a 7th.
2. This move torpedoes the Leafs before a "playoff run" they had no chance of succeeding at anyways. It's going to suck handing Boston a lottery pick but no sense in throwing good money after bad. The Leafs look like a team that's adding prospects for a rebuild - exactly what everyone wanted.
3. Jake Gardiner looks like a solid prospect. From Bob McKenzie:
Strength of Jake Gardiner's game is his skating. All-world skater.
Gardiner is 6'2", an excellent skater and his NHL equivalency suggests he can put up points:
Jake Gardiner currently projects to about 34 points per 82 games at the NHL level, applying Gabe Desjardins' NHLE - @SlavaDuris
So as an NCAA junior we could expect Gardiner to put up about 34 points if he played in the NHL next year. He's a real deal prospect. HockeysFuture.com had him behind only Cam Fowler on their Anaheim prospect ratings, ahead of Emerson Etem, and Kyle Palmieri. Here's their take on Gardiner:
At 6’2/178 lbs, Gardiner has good size and strength that he also uses to his advantage, both offensively and defensively. He can finish his checks very well. Where Gardiner is particularly dangerous are in the areas in front of the net and along the boards. He is strong on his skates and is a difficult player to move off of the puck. And coupled with his size, speed and long reach, he can also be just as tough to beat. As his body matures, Gardiner will become an even more dominant and effective force on the blueline. - Hockey's Future
Let's thank Francois Beauchemin for his time in Toronto, let's be hopeful that this signifies an end to the constant "rebuild on the fly" we've endured since the lockout and let's be excited about adding a legitimate high end prospect.
As for the salary toss in Lupul? As Karina pointed out on Twitter: he's got to be better than Joey Crabb.