Monday, February 4, 2008

This Old House with Bob Goalie

It's been far too long since I last posted something however, as the old saying goes, quality, not quantity. In case you couldn't tell by the title, this is another one of those "The Leafs must sell everybody and rebuild" blogs so reader beware and suggestions are welcome.

Most people save the best for last, but not me. Just like an old house being torn down, it starts with the foundation. The first and foremost issue at hand here is Sundin. He just has to go. It sounds very backward and it reads very strange, but Sundin is the most valuable player available this year at the deadline and we should take full advantage of it. In my mind, there is no other player that is as talented as Sundin and is available at the deadline. Even in years past, who can put up a solid case to be better than Sundin at the deadline? Forsberg last year? He was not 100%. Guerin? Tkachuk? No. The only guy that is comparable is Ray Bourque and we all know how that story ended. The fact of the matter is, the events of last year are different from this year. Last year, there were several pretenders who thought they were contenders such as the Islanders and the Thrashers and other teams that just flat out got the wrong players like San Jose. This season, we're talking about Sundin who's on a different level than these guys were last year and we're talking about contending teams like Anaheim and Detroit. Big difference.

Rumors circulating have reported that Anaheim, despite signing Selanne, are still in the hunt for Mats Sundin. Other teams included in these rumors are Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose and sometimes Detroit. Obviously, trading with some teams will be much better than trading with others, like for example, trading with Vancouver would not be as favorable to this team as it would be to trade with Anaheim. Vancouver has defensive prospects, which we have plenty of already, and Anaheim has some offensive weapons we could add that we need. Now, the price of Sundin has been thrown around a lot and honestly, I think it should be more than Forsberg cost last year. Forsberg was a potentially great player but he wasn't 100% and Nashville paid accordingly. This year, we have Sundin who is 100%, as motivated as ever, and as talented as ever. Teams will have to pay to play, and significantly might I add.

I'll start with the best trading partner, Anaheim. I expect Bobby Ryan and EDM 1st round pick. The Ducks have all the defense and goaltending in the world, but they do not have the same Selanne/McDonald connection they had last year. Selanne will take awhile to warm up to the player they NEED him to be and McDonald is just gone. Getzlaf on the top like works, but on the 2nd line, nothing would be more dangerous than having Sundin. If the Ducks have any problem with cap space, I will gladly take any contract we have to. Waivers is not a hard thing for us to use. Burke is a smart GM but so is Fletcher and I think this is in the realm of possibility. Right now, the Ducks are poised for the Cup and will be for a few years so the draft and prospects aren't the most important thing to them considering they have a legitimate chance to win back to back Cups.

The next best trading partner, and also most unlikely, is the Detroit Red Wings. From the Red Wings, I expect to see one of two packages coming our way. The first being, Filppula, Andersson, Emmerton or Grigorenko and a 3rd round pick. Joakim Andersson, Cory Emmerton and Igor Grigorenko are all 2nd/3rd line prospects. Filppula is a great young player that the Red Wings might have to consider giving up instead of a 1st rounder or other more notable prospects like Kindl or Ryno. The other deal consists of, Grigorenko, Andersson, Emmerton, 1st, 2nd in 08 and 3rd in 09.

For the Sharks, I think a fair price would be, Pavelski, Setoguchi, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09. The tricky thing about the Sharks however, is they are also interested in Antropov, Kubina, and even Raycroft. There is also the outside chance of Blake being in their plans, although, long term, I doubt the Sharks would be interested in him. In a deal consisting of Sundin and Antropov, I would add Bernier to the previous deal. If Kubina is added, I expect Ehrhoff in return. Raycroft, if they need him, can go for a 5th or 6th round pick.

Following the Sharks, are the Flames. The Flames have got a huge problem at center. They have two or three guys who are great 2nd liners, but nobody who can really play with Iginla. His latest goal slump is proof of that. Sundin in Calgary would be a natural fit, and personally, value aside, my favorite (probably because Calgary was my prediction for Cup winner this year). In return, I would expect Boyd, Backlund, Giordano (playing in Russia but still owned by the Flames), 1st and 2nd in 09. There are also rumors that the Flames are interested in Antropov or Tucker so for either of them you add Taratukhin to the deal. I think Taratukhin is an Antropov-like player that the Flames could afford to let go for a run in the playoffs and instantly replace him with a more developed Antropov. Tucker has a NTC, but going home, to a competitive situation would do him and his game wonders. Many think Tucker is playing hurt, while I think that is true, I think there is something else killing Tucker and that's the lack of true competitiveness. I think he feeds off of it, and in Calgary, he will get it, plenty of it.

Then finally, comes the Canucks. Of all the teams rumored to be interested in Sundin, the Canucks are the team I am the least interested in. They have nothing the Leafs could possibly need other than improved versions of what the Leafs already have, however, if the Canucks are interested, it is worth going over what we could get in return. I would expect Bourdon, Hansen, Raymond, 1st in 08, and a 3rd in 09 or, alternatively, Kesler, Raymond, Hansen, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09.

Once Sundin is dealt, I would love to re-sign him, however I see some destructive decisions if he does return. For one thing, if Sundin returns, you can rule out any remote possibility of the Leafs even thinking about getting Tavares because the idea when Sundin is on the team, is making the playoffs. I believe the Leafs need two if not three years away from the playoffs to rebuild and restock this team properly. Point to the Flyers of this year, but what people forget is the Leafs don't have a Richards, or Carter, or Gagne to build off of. The Leafs need a few really high 1st round picks before they even think about the playoffs again. The only scenario where I re-sign Sundin, is if he returns and does it Steve Yzerman style where he accepts to play a lesser role on the team and the team itself admits to playing prospects and not signing or trading for established players and/or veterans to make a playoff push.

As you can see, the biggest step is trading Sundin, but, similar to a house, that's just the same as knocking the biggest pieces of the old house down because the big stuff is gone, but there is still some walls left standings, some walls, we need to tear down and replace.

I've already mentioned Antropov a couple of times, and a few others once in the San Jose deal, but one player I have yet to mention is Vesa Toskala. Toskala is a 30 year old goaltender, who is smaller than the average goaltender in the NHL, however, he is beginning to show that he belongs in the top 15 if not 10 in this league in goaltending. On a team that plays a sound game but needs goaltending, Toskala is perfect. In Toronto, a rebuilding phase would see the development of Pogge and the rise of Toskala clash. I would be in favor of holding on to Toskala for one more year, however, if it is possible to get good value for him now, we can't say no and I think I have found a pretty good compromise. That compromise would see the Leafs deal Toskala and Antropov to Nashville, if Antropov isn't already dealt with Sundin, for Mason, FLA 1st, 2nd in 08 and a 3rd in 09. Mason makes 3 million a year, only 1 less than Toskala, so for Nashville, who is trying to make the playoffs and need to make them for fan support and revenue, it makes perfect sense. They also get a two-way winger or center who can score too. The Predators have no problem scoring but they do need a more defensive aware player and Antropov is that guy, at a bargain of 2 million for this and next year.

I would personally deal Sundin, Antropov, Kubina, Tucker, Toskala, and just about any player 30 and over that another team wants, except Kaberle. In return, if we deal with Anaheim, Calgary, San Jose and Nashville with Sundin going to Anaheim, Tucker going to Calgary, Kubina and Raycroft going to San Jose and Toskala and Antropov going to Nashville, a good situation would see us acquire, Bobby Ryan, EDM 1st, Ehrhoff, SJS 5th, Mason, FLA 1st, NSH 2nd, and NSH 3rd in 09 in return. Not a bad way to start rebuilding in my opinion and not that out of this world either, all it takes is an effort to sell the veteran players we have, and move forward with a younger core. Next year, I would hope to see a lineup that included, Kulemin, Tlusty, Vorobiev, Earl, Pogge, and any other player on our list of prospects that can play in the NHL next year to develop their NHL game and to add to the future positively.

In conclusion, I'd like to apologize for the length of this blog, but it was just something I felt I wanted to put all together, in one blog. I know some of my ideas are things that will not happen simply due to the fact the Leafs want to win quickly and doing things slowly and steady in this organization just do not happen, but I ask for critical responses, and just to take everything with a grain of salt as I've tried to keep things as level as possible for all parties involved. Hopefully, this old house is torn down, and we can start to build something more modern as we move forward and continue our quest for the Cup.


Ron said...

Amazing, in-depth blog, UG. Long but interesting and kept me reading the whole way. I don't have much to say, because you know my views on the situation...

First things first... Sundin needs to go. If that doesn't happen..... boy oh boy did we get screwed over by MLSE... again!

Anonymous said...

Very well thought out. One problem. You want WAAAYYY too much. As you started your post, you reminded how all the deadline deals last year fell flat on their faces. The contending teams, IE Anaheim, don't need to spend much to stay contending, if anything, and the other teams can't afford to give the future to fall flat in the playoffs. Sundin is good, very good, and one of the classiest guys in the league, but as a rentaplayer, only worth one player and a pick.

Unholy_Goalie said...

Thanks for the input, anonymous, however I am not asking too much. The players from years before, as I explained, were not Sundin and the teams asking for those players were pretenders, not contenders. It's an entirely different situation. Sundin should command, AT LEAST, what others got for players last year, if not more. Contending teams like Detroit and Anaheim will not fall flat on their face like Atlanta will. It's a completely different situation this year.