The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire a second-round draft pick and a conditional draft pick from the New York Rangers for Nik Antropov.
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Is that it? I will admit that I am totally disappointed by what Nik Antropov brought in trade. I will admit to being curious about what the conditional pick might entail but with the sheer volume of second round picks flying around (9 of them changed hands!), I would think that one of the few top-six forwards on market would fetch more. When comparing the yield to what other forwards netted. Daniel Carcillo snagged a second-round pick and Scottie Upshall. Alex Kotalik got Edmonton's second-round pick. Columbus gave a second-round pick with Pascal LeClaire for Antoine Vermette in what I see as a great deal for Ottawa. Yes, Vermette gives Columbus exactly what they needed and he is signed for next year... but look at his production compared to Antropov's... look at the supporting talent he had in Ottawa compared to Toronto who boasts no elite talent on the level of Spezza, Heatley or Alfredsson and question like I have why he netted the Senators a starting goalie and a second-round pick. So as one could gather from my rambling diatribe, I am somewhat displeased with the return on Toronto's second biggest asset (to Tomas Kaberle).
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire a second-round draft pick from the Buffalo Sabres for Dominic Moore.
As sad as I am to see Moore leave Toronto (who else has shown ability to get Jason Blake to play?), I am very pleased with the return on what was originally a waiver transaction made by the 'dearly departed' JFJ. I am also pleased to see a Toronto GM actually stand up to a popular player over contract demands and sell high in trading. These are qualities in a GM that Toronto fans haven't seen since the first round of Fletcher. Considering how Toronto had dealt with Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, Tie Domi and Ed Belfour in recent years I was ecstatic to see such a move, even if it means a player that I have really grown to appreciate has to bear the brunt of the tough approach. A second-round pick is more than I expected Moore would fetch.
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Andy Rogers, Olaf Kolzig, Jamie Heward, and a fourth-round draft pick from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Richard Petiot.
This is the most creative trade I've seen from a Toronto GM since... well last year when Cliff Fletcher somehow fleeced Pittsburgh into giving two draft picks for Hal Gill. But before that it had been quite some time. In using a large asset that Toronto has, cap space, the Leafs netted themselves a draft pick that could be used to replace the one squandered on Ryan Hollweg. Not only did the Leafs get a usable draft pick but they picked up a former first-round pick that has fallen on hard times. Andy Rogers once projected as a Bryan Allen type stay-at-home defender with above average mobility to go with his imposing frame. At 22, he can hardly be considered a bust as it generally takes large defencemen longer to mature and grow into their frame. As a throw-in to a salary dump, Andy Rogers has enough upside as a future 5-6 defenceman that I am very satisfied with this move. This is a guy that if given time and some solid coaching could play the kind of mobile defensive game that Hal Gill could only dream about. He's not going to add offense, but on a team with Kaberle, Kubina, White, and Mike Van Ryn (albeit possibly temporarily) that isn't an issue.
The Toronto Maple Leafs claim Martin Gerber from the Ottawa Senators on re-entry waivers.
At first glace this move inspired a forehead smack. This is a guy who has been outplayed and replaced by his backup goalie three times in the past four seasons. And who are these scarily talented individuals who have chased him from the goal? Cam Ward (average to bit above average), Ray Emery (how's Russia?), Alex Auld (replaced by AHLer Brian Elliot). The knock on Gerber isn't really on talent... or work ethic... but on his mental state. This guy has confidence of glass... I can only imagine how he will fare in Toronto when under a constant barrage of shots, poor defensive zone coverage, and a barrage by the media worse than any rubber fired at 90km/hr.
Now if the objective is to lose hockey games, and I'm sure very few people will admit this to be the case, a Gerber-Joseph goaltending tandem is sure to get the Leafs a better draft position come June. For this reason alone, I am not totally against this pick up.
Also, I heard whispers that the Leafs claimed Gerber, then tried to flip him over to another team farther down the waiver wire (who said Detroit?) for a late draft pick (a sixth or seventh round pick). If this is the case then at least they tried to get creative with acquiring draft picks to bolster a mediocre system.
Ultimately my complaints relating to Martin Gerber are linked to the fate of one Justin Pogge. I can't help but feel this may be the time to throw him in the fire to face some consistent NHL competition and see if he comes out tempered and ready for regular duty, or if he flames out and gives Burke reason to look for other goaltending solutions. Columbus did not turn to Steve Mason because it had a choice. They called on Mason because half the goalies in their system went down to injury in rapid succession and he was the last chance to get some quality netminding. The rest, as they say, is Calder history... but I may be getting ahead of myself. I'm just saying it likely couldn't hurt Pogge's seemingly stalled development to throw him the reigns for the last fifth of the season. At best, the Leafs could have solved their goaltending questions, at worst: more balls in the lottery.
Ponikarovsky, Williams and O'Sullivan
A big reason for my deadline disappointment is that Edmonton and Carolina got together and somehow swindled the LA Kings for Patrick O'Sullivan. Why the Kings gave up on this kid is beyond me. But here's the real joke: they didn't just swap him for an older player who might fit better in the system (Justin Williams) but they gave up a second-round pick for the right to get rid of O'Sullivan. I know he was having issue fitting in with LA's system this year... but languishing on the fourth line and still being on pace for 49pts with +1 rating. This kid oozes talent, is lightning-quick, has the versatility to play all three forward positions, and has intangibles that few players his age ever exhibit. He is undersized and doesn't play much in the way of a physical game, but for a team that lacks legitimate top-six forwards and anything in the way of impact prospects at the forward position Patrick O'Sullivan could have helped.
It adds insult to injury that the guy the Kings got for their second-round pick and O'Sullivan has played a full season just twice in his seven years in the NHL. Justin Williams is a very solid second line winger when healthy. But come now! I look at this and I'm sure the Leafs could have started a package for O'Sullivan with the durable and versatile Alexey Ponikarovsky and added in whatever the Kings felt necessary to make it happen. Since 2003-04 Ponikarovsky has played in 291 NHL games (not including this season) for an average of 72.75 games per season. Over the same time frame Williams has played in 233 NHL games for an average of 58.25 games per season. I decided to not include this year as Ponikarovsky looks to put in 82 games against William's 32 games but could still be derailed by injury.
Over that same span, Ponikarovsky has scored at a 0.50 points-per-game average while Williams averaged 0.82 points-per-game. Pretty clear that Williams is the more skilled finish of the two. But look at the plus-minus totals over those same time frames: Ponikarovsky is a cumulative +40 while Williams is an unspectacular -6... not even including the -9 he picked up in limited action this year. One could attribute Williams' mediocre plus-minus to playing on a non-playoff team for 3 of those 4 years... but wait! the Leafs haven't been in the playoffs since the season before the lockout. Suddenly that +40 looks pretty decent, eh?
Throw in that Ponikarovsky makes a modest 2.1m against the 4m that O'Sullivan makes and the 3.5m that Williams makes and he seems like a pretty desirable asset.
I'm not saying that Williams is a terrible hockey player... I AM saying that he is injury prone, streaky and not the greatest defensive player in the league. Ponikarovsky is durable, streaky, plays solid in his own end, but can be maddening in his inability to finish when he's cold. I'm just frustrated that one of my favourite non-Leafs was up for grabs, a player that could really flourish in Toronto given the opportunity and the cost of acquisition was very low, a cost that the Leafs could have easily met and seen paid immediate dividends.
Even though the returns on Moore and Antropov essentially wash as the Leafs getting relative market value for assets and the dealings with the Lightning showing a creative element to Toronto's managerial staff, I can't help but feel a little bit cheated. I didn't have my expectations set on a team cleansing, but I was hoping to at least see another pending free agent, Jamaal Mayers, hitting the road. This is a guy who the Leafs overpaid for, but a guy who could definitely help a playoff team with his speed, grit and penalty killing. Mayers had really come on lately, and I was really hoping to recoup some of the draft losses the Leafs incurred in acquiring he and Ryan Hollweg. I am certain a playoff bound team like the Vancouver Canucks could have used Mayers and been willing to give between a third to fifth round pick for his temporary services.
When it comes down to it though, Brian Burke did a pretty decent job today of making the Leaf's future a little brighter... even if it didn't involve Patrick O'Sullivan.
Thanks for reading this ghastly novel, I appreciate comments.
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