Thursday, June 27, 2013

How to Find a #2 Defenceman

rob scuderi kings leafs
According to Darren Dreger, the Penguins have offered Letang a hair over $7 million a year for 8 years. But it might not be good enough to keep the defenceman in Pittsburgh, and initial rumour mongering has linked Letang to the Leafs.

Although Letang is a very good player, he has no history in a shutdown role, and the Leafs desperately need a strong defensive upgrade beside Dion Phaneuf to get the most out of their captain. That isn't to say Letang can't perform in that role, but when you have to gut your farm system and shell out huge money to get a player, you want to be reasonably sure he's capable of what you need, and not a $60+ million gamble.

A No. 2 defenceman is the biggest priority for the Leafs, even more so than the never-ending search for a No. 1 centre, mainly because Phaneuf didn't have a particularly good year in 2013 and the deficiencies of the top pair were on full display.

In part, Phaneuf's failings were because Randy Carlyle gave him a purely defensive role the likes of which has rarely, if ever, been seen before. To make things worse, half the season he was playing with AHL players. However, Phaneuf is a quality defenceman, he just needs to be surrounded by other quality defencemen so the hardest defensive duties don't fall on his shoulders alone. Try playing huge minutes against John Tavares and the elites of the league with Korbinian Holzer strapped to your back.

Finding a No. 2 defenceman isn't going to be easy for Dave Nonis. Teams are always searching for top-4 defencemen and guys capable of playing 22+ minutes in a shutdown role aren't just sitting around on the waiver wire. Looking around at the No. 2 defencemen in the league, and finding out how their teams acquired them, could provide insight into how Nonis might go about finding a partner for Phaneuf.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Are Letang's Days in Pittsburgh Over?

kris letang penguins trade
Heading into the final year of his contract, Kris Letang might be pricing himself out of Pittsburgh.

The Penguins are working on extending Letang, but are hesitant to offer much more than $6 million a season. Pierre LeBrun doesn't think Letang will sign for any less than $7 million a season.

The Penguins have the cap space to offer Letang a contract worth $7 million a season, but thanks to massive contract extensions for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, more than $34 million is already committed to six players in 2014-15, and adding Letang's big ticket would put them in a cap squeeze.

The Penguins are also concerned about whether Letang is worth elite defenceman money. According to Rob Rossi, "Letang is not the consensus best defenseman on the Penguins, at least in the eyes of management and coaches."

And with the bevy of young defence prospects in the Penguins' system, Rossi believes Letang has become a "must-move player" for GM Ray Shero. The Penguins could decide to keep Letang next season and go for a cup, return be damned, but a trade seems likelier, with CBC's Elliotte Friedman reporting teams are preparing offers in case the two sides fail to reach an agreement.

If the Penguins do decide to trade Letang, there will be plenty of suitors, despite the high cost to acquire the Norris Trophy finalist. More concerning, however, is Letang's desire to be paid like an elite defencemen. Sure, he's scored 190 points over the last five years, tied for 11th among defencemen, but are there enough holes in his defensive game to cause teams to look elsewhere for defensive help?

Is Letang worth $7 million or more over 5-8 years, or is this a case of buyer beware?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

When are the Best Goalies Drafted?

james reimer ben scrivens leafs
After setting the club record for highest save percentage last season, you would think James Reimer could feel safely entrenched as the Leafs' No. 1 goalie. But with the Leafs trading Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens, and a second-round pick for the Kings' Jonathan Bernier, it seems like Reimer will have another summer looking over his shoulder. 

Acquiring Bernier, despite how little sense it makes, must have been an alluring option for Dave Nonis because the 25-year-old LA King has first-round pedigree. As an 11th overall pick, Bernier exudes the type of upside that GMs drool over.

But just because Bernier was once a high draft pick doesn't mean he holds any more promise than a fourth-round pick, like James Reimer, or even an undrafted goalie, like the departed Scrivens.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Leafs Interested in Kings' Jonathan Bernier

jonathan bernier kings leafs trade rumour
With the upcoming end to the Stanley Cup playoffs, rumour time is ramping up, and the latest report indicates the Leafs are one of three teams in the running for the LA Kings' Jonathan Bernier.

GM Dean Lombardi told Bernier he owed the young netminder a chance to be a starter somewhere else, and has begun exploring trade options for the 2006 11th overall pick.

Much like the rumoured Miikka Kiprusoff trade at the deadline, the deal makes little sense for the Maple Leafs.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Leafs Protected Well Against Bozak Loss

tyler bozak leafs ufa
The Leafs have reportedly made no progress on signing a new deal with soon-to-be free agent Tyler Bozak, and could conceivably trade his negotiating rights to recoup some value. For the Leafs, centre-starved for years, losing Bozak would not be a bad thing.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Searching for Better than Mike Fisher

jeff carter mike richards la stanley cup
For years the Leafs searched for an elite winger to flank Mats Sundin. Infuriatingly, once the Leafs finally acquired that elusive missing piecePhil Kessel—Sundin was retired. The quest then became searching for an elite centre to pair with Kessel.

Tyler Bozak has filled in on the top line about as well as you would expect a third line centre would, and somehow might parlay that experience into a major pay day this summer. GMs are truly stupid people once the free agent market opens.

Bozak didn't have to be the answer, however. There have been a surprising amount of No. 1 centres available through both trades and free agency since Mats Sundin left Toronto. Here is a rundown of who was available and what it would have cost the Leafs to acquire them. Considering the return demanded, maybe the last few years of Bozak won't seem so bad.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Will the Leafs Sign David Clarkson?

david clarkson leafs ufa
For the first time in years, the Leafs will hit free agency with money to spend. Unfortunately, this year's free agent crop is missing out on big name talent, and the areas the Leafs most need to improve, centre and defence, are practically barren. But there is a player practically made to play in Toronto, a folk hero in waiting, one even with Darcy Tucker crazy eyes.

Toronto-born David Clarkson, who grew up idolizing Wendel Clark, will definitely be on Dave Nonis' shopping list if he hits free agency, and for good reason.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...