With the Leafs all but out of playoff contention, Interum GM Cliff Fletcher headed west to scout talent and a pair of back to backs this weekend that may force Leaf fans off the ledge, lets turn our focus to the 'rebuild'...It has been reported that GM Fletcher has "extra" money to buy-out any contracts he feels need discarded. When the term buy-out is mentioned shortly after the "heck no, I won't go" displayed by Leafs players sporting No Trade or No Movement clauses, you have to think those very players would be the first to stand in front of the firing squad. The question is though, will they?
With Pavel Kubina now showing signs of the player who helped the Lightning win a cup, is his name on the list of buyouts?? He is expensive at 5+ mil but if a Mccabe deal is imminent (which is unknown as well but speculated) maybe Pav is a good replacement for the big shot IF he plays to this caliber?? He does mesh well with Kaberle and has seen increased time with the slick D man on the top pairing. Take a shot on him or dump him?
Next in line, at least on my list, is do they buy-out Darcy Tucker? Tucks is a fan fav but is his 4 mil+ too much? possibly, certainly if he doesn't put up numbers. Perhaps Fergie misjudged Tuckers scoring potential over the next 3-4 years. Perhaps he didn't take into account the beating Tucker has endured in his hockey career or that his 'career year' came on a 'contract year' (same as Blake) and that's not to mention for one second that Tucker is a "play only for the money" kind of guy because I believe he is loyal to the bone and plays his heart out every game, it IS a funny little coincidence though isn't it??
Isn't it almost ALWAYS that way... Maybe he was signed JUST for the fans (maybe.. I know my wife even wants a Tucker jersey)Perhaps JFJ forgot Darcy was 33 years old. Tucker will likely stick around as long as the main core stays. When you see Sundin leave this team Tucker and company aren't far behind. They are the survivors of the last hoorah.. Sundin, Tucker, Mccabe, Kaberle has been a leaf his entire, yet young career. Sorry boys, ya came up short. You just couldn't quite get there. It's time to wipe the slate clean and move on and when it starts Tucker will be on the bus.
One thing is for sure Fergie was a sucker for the 'career year' Signing not only Darcy but Jason Blake. Blake had just turned in his career high 40 goal season for the Isles and was bristled at Islander Suits for turning a blinde side to him in a feeble attempt to keep Ryan Smyth from driving off into the sunset (which he did anyway). Blake signed a multi year deal for big dollars and off he went/came to Leafs Nation where he sputtered out of the gate after learning he had a rare form of leukemia. There is no questioning Blakes speed and you really do notice it on pretty well every shift. It is however worthy of questioning Blakes shot selection on most nights. Although sitting 4th in NHL shots he sits 155th in goals scored with 13. At 4 mil a year for another 4 years this guy may be packing come June.
I would think McCabe would go in a trade before they attempt to buy him out. No sence in paying to get away from an offensive powerhouse of a Dman, even at 5+mil per campaign. I'm sure they could find a taker. Certainly if the core starts to disappear he would rethink the no movement clause.
Kaberle will remain a Leaf for the duration of his contract but that may be one of the bright spots the Leafs have going forward. Puck moving defencemen like Kaberle are always a treat. (certainly at his price too!) That really leaves only one REAL question mark, Andrew Raycroft. Do they buy his time out or are they able to obtain something for him? Is he worth anything? I'd say in the offseason they will attempt a move prior to a buy-out. Surely Raycroft can kick back at least a pick for his 2 years of blue and white. He sure hasn't kicked at much else lately.
I would also venture to say that the guys on the lower end of the pay scale may need to join the FA line on July 1st as well but the possibilities are endless in that area. The Marlies are looking to give a good push at a Calder Cup but surely only half of this team, if THAT, needs to be retained for future Maple Leaf consideration.
Outside the player circle is Paul Maurice.
Although I don't agree with every move this man has made, he may be worthy of another shot by whomever comes in as the new GM. He has turned the Pat Quinn 'country club' into a fit bunch. If you think back to when he first came these guys were old and tired. The younth seems to have an extra gear since he has brought a harder discipline and the older guys (although far fewer then those days) are keeping pace with the youngsters without notice. My guess is he won't survive the facelift this summer but that may be an unfit ending for mr. Maurice considering the teams he was given.
No matter who gets the axe or who gets pursued for a buy-out this team is looking to be much different come September.
You heard it here!