Saturday, July 5, 2008

Still in a daze...

Trying to forget that we ever gave Jeff Finger $3.5 million.
(kidding, I don't mind the Finger signing one bit, but that's for another post)

I'm also not going to get too much into the FA frenzy deals, for the purpose of brevity but also because they're better detailed on this great Toronto Maple Leafs blog.

Important news!

Dominic Moore has signed a one-year deal worth $900,000. It's always fun to have a Toronto boy back, and he adds a lot of speed and grit, as well as great work on the PK. He should have a blast with Mayers.

Mikhail Grabovski has also signed a one-year deal worth $850,000. It's good to have him but a real shame we couldn't lock him down for more. The other worrying thing is the gist of that article reads like he'll be promised top 6 minutes or at least PP time. I know he was lighting it up in the AHL, but he's not really a known quantity at the NHL level yet.

Which brings me to a better question:

What the hell are we going to do with all these forwards?

Right now on forward we've got Antropov, Ponikarovsky, Steen, Stajan, Blake, Hagman, Bell, Mayers, Devereaux, Moore, Tlusty, and Grabovski in our lineup. Which rounds out to an even twelve guys.

Looking to make the roster next year are Kulemin (who is basically a lock), Earl, Williams, and Mitchell. I'm not really counting Boyce or Foster (mostly because I didn't see much of Boyce and I'm not a fan of Fosters).

So what can we do to free up some roster space? Devereaux could act as a spare forward on the bench. Though I think he's still got something to give Earl or Boyce could easily fill his role come camp. There's been stirrings about Bell being shipped off/waived to the minors, depending on how his off season goes. I personally think that's a mistake as he still has a bundle of upside, but he might not do well having Ron Wilson as his coach, and would free up another spot. Trades are another thing entirely, and though I think that nobody from the old roster is safe (including Steen and Stajan) there are some decent candidates. Poni is basically an aging depth winger, he's good for 20 goals a season and should do well on any team looking to add a little scoring. He hasn't been exceptional and we have young guys looking to prove themselves in our top 6, so I think he's a decent candidate for a trade. Blake might take some harder doing, but there are a lot of teams hard up for scoring wingers out there and I believe we can find a way to get it done. Cap room isn't really what's needed, it's simply that he doesn't fit into a rebuilding philosophy of getting younger or being able to contribute down the stretch (which Blake will be in no condition to 3 years from now, cancer or not). Of course depending on camp any of Tlusty, Earl, Mitchell, Boyce, or Grabovski could be sent down with little fuss, but I think management knows we need to start giving young guys bigger roles. Should be interesting anyway.

Our defense is suffering a bit of a crisis too, with McCabe, Kaberle, Kubina, White, Colaiacovo, Stralman, Finger, Kronwall, and apparently Jonas Frogren putting their fingers in the pie. One of McCabe or Kubina should be gone come camp (my money's on Kubina) freeing up a spot, and Kronwall's a 7th dman at best. While it's possible Stralman could start the season in the AHL he's made it clear he does not want to be there and has proven that with a little bit more size and experience he can be capable in the majors. What I think is more likely is us moving one of White or Colaiacovo, likely White due to Carlo's injury concerns.

I'm excited to see our revamped roster in action, no matter how bad it is.

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