Signing Jeff Finger was a great idea.
Alright, maybe not, but it most certainly wasn't a bad one. The Leafs acquire a budding d-man who had a breakout season his first full season in the NHL. You overpay in free agency and you pay for potential in the new NHL, the Leafs did both. God forbid that Fletcher takes advantage of the fact that we're rebuilding to try and find some guys whose best days aren't behind them yet.
I know we've gotten burned by bad contracts in the past, but it's time to let go. This is not Bryan McCabe. Nor is it Darcy Tucker. If Finger doesn't work out, then we can waive him or trade him. If we need cap space then we can waive him or trade him. If another team is willing to overpay we can even trade him at the deadline and acquire decent assets as well as cap relief. Buyouts? I know Damien Cox has his head up his ass, but the rest of Leafs Nation needs to calm down a bit. There are plenty more ways to get rid of most players other than a buyout.
There's been a lot of smoke blowing at both sides of the Finger debate, so let's try and clear the air a bit. Finger is not Colorado's #1 shutdown defensive guy. Nor was Adam Foote for most of the season, as he was acquired at the trade deadline. Kurt Sauer missed almost 30 games last season with a concussion, which is all kinds of bad news for a defenseman. Finger had the most goals of any Avs defensemen while posting the second best plus/minus next to Sauer, whom Finger played 18 more games than.
There's been a lot of observation floating around the blog world about Finger "not being very physical" or "...selective in [hitting]... almost tentative". Those people are idiots. Finger was second on the team in hits with 121, just behind Ruslan Salei who posted most of his 162 in Florida. He was way above Adam Foote's 93, most of which were posted in Columbus. So let's call him the most frequent hitter on the Avs. His 121 hits also tie Pavel Kubina for the most on the Leafs roster last season.
Want more? His 8.1 shooting percentage also ties Kubina for best on the Leafs, and was the best on the Avs among any defenseman who played over 50 games. Finger was the only defenseman who played more than 55 games on the Avs to come up plus in giveaways/takeaways, and not a single player on the Leafs last season was anything but severely negative in those stats.
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if he pans out or not, we want to be losing. We couldn't grab a quick return on our assets like Philly, we're not going to become contenders next season. The best we can hope for is a slow burn like Chicago, several last place finishes turning into an exciting young roster. Say it with me Leafs fans: We. Don't. Want. To. Win.
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