Sunday, October 26, 2008

So what's going on in my back end?

is Ian White done here, or biding his time?

So with Schenn looking likely to stay, it looks like we're going to have to start thinking seriously about our defense... again. For what seems like the 18th time.

Sitting out have been (former) fan favourites Ian White and Carlo Colaiacovo, with Frogren sitting out last game in favour of the widely anticipated debut of Jeff Finger*. Personally I think Frogren wanders way too far out on his shifts and occasionally leaves his partner out to dry in the defensive zone, but Wilson seems high on the guy and the need for a truly physical defenseman is there.

The prevailing logic is this; if White and Cola are sitting, they must be getting traded for one of two reasons:

1) We have no use for them as a club and need them gone.

2) We owe it to them as perfectly (sorta) respectable NHL roster players to find them time to play elsewhere.

I take issue with that reasoning, Cola and White both present risky moves for any prospective takers at the trade market. Carlo, for his obvious health concerns, and White for reasons I've gone into already (he sucks). Not only that, but by not playing them at all we're not giving them a chance to reassert themselves as viable NHLers while telling other clubs that nobody in their right mind would dress them.

So why would anybody actually give up assets to take these two guys off our hands? Is it more likely that we're trying to move somebody currently locked into a roster spot?

With Frogren recently sitting and Finger being one of Cliff's new signings, the potential goats seem to be:

Van Ryn

As I wouldn't even dare to suggest that Schenn could be on the trading block.

Now that's an interesting list. I've already gone into detail about Kaberle and his potential misgivings of being with an alien group of guys on what will likely be a losing outfit for the twilight of his career. Fletcher already had a chance to trade Kubina this summer and didn't, a move I found distressing, so it's unlikely Kubina moves. Van Ryn has acquitted himself pretty well, and is probably our 2nd or 3rd best dman at this point.

Lastly there's Stralman (who has an awesome picture on Sportsnet). I for one can't believe we haven't already sent him down, he's made some good plays, some (more) bad, and is still learning. Sending him down would immediately alleviate some of our roster troubles while Cliff works something out, while giving him 20+ minutes in the Marl. The fact that he's still on the roster is a bit baffling, and maybe a bit troubling.

Of course, trading a 22 year old with loads of upside also doesn't really fit Cliff's modus operandi for this season, so I'm assuming our golden Swede is also safe.

Leaving Kabby and Van Ryn, both of whom have been great and both of whom have big but reasonable cap hits.

We can't expect teams to take our unwanted guys just because they're struggling, a cap market prohibits that kind of wanton asset dealing. But we could gather some interest with our better guys.

Something to keep an eye on, regardless. Any bets on what our defensive pairings would look like with these guys gone?


Huh, that leaves White still out. Guess we might be trading the poor crappy bastard anyway.

* I expect the anticipation level among Leafs fans and haters alike was quite muted for Finger's debut. The joke got tired months ago, which I guess we all knew would happen. Until Finger scores an own-goal before his first real one, that is.


eyebleaf said...

I, respectfully, have to totally disagree with you re: Stralman. This kid can play. He proved it last year at the World Championships, and I think he`s done a decent job with the Leafs so far this year. He can skate like the wind (he caught Vermette and made a great play to lift his stick on a breakaway Saturday night) and has tremendous upside. He`s great at moving the puck and can make a great outlet pass. He can learn a lot from Kaberle and I think he must play every night. Anton has a goal and an assist on the season and is a +3, good for fourth best on the team. Schenn by comparison, while he has been great, is a -3, along with Kubina and Frogger.

And I`m not sure what Ian White did to you and everyone else to get so deep in the dog house, but I think he`s a half-decent NHLer who has a future in the league. Again, he`s young, a solid skater and can make a good first pass out of the defensive zone. Not exactly sure what everyone is expecting from a 5th or 6th defenceman in this league, but I think White has more upside than people in Toronto give him credit for.

I`m not really too happy to see Carlo sitting out, and I hope Kaberle does not get traded and instead gets his signature on a new contract that will keep him in Toronto for a long time.

Scott Baker said...

Trust me, nobody's higher than me on Stralman. I can't name anybody else in the GTA who has a blue jersey with #36 on it. But sending him down for the short term would make so much sense right now it's not even funny. Alleviate the logjam, let someone play, ship someone else out, Stralman back in. Cake.

As for White, I posted my thoughts and a breakdown of his stats somewhere earlier down near the start of the season. I think he could very well have a spot on this team, if there weren't 7 other guys who deserve to be in our lineup more. The reason I don't believe we can net anything for him is that every team has a 5th or 6th defenseman with upside waiting in the wings, White's not standout enough to be a commodity unless we play him some and he shines.

It's up to Kabby if he stays, period. I don't particularly mind either way what happens, if Kabby wants to pursue glory now that he's not too attached here, fine. If he wants to stay and retire here, even better. I'm just stating that he's a candidate now after his comments before the season and the way I see our logjam shaping up.

PPP said...

Considering that they had no problem sending Tlusty down I am starting to get a little befuddled by keeping Stralman up.

Although, I heard that he got really pissed off last year since he came over with the expectation that he would be in the NHL so maybe that's part of it.

eyebleaf said...

Why do you guys think that Stralman has not played well enough to stick in the lineup? I think he has. He's put up a couple of points, he's a plus player, and he's shown his incredible wheels. What would you like to see out of him?

Skids Mahoney said...

@ eyebleaf - i think his coverage on two on ones is still a little suspect, and him being the victim of two "own goals" now makes me nervous. That said, he's got tremendous upside, but not more than Schenn. If a week ago, some fans were still bent on sending Schenn down to jr's to work on his O game, then sending Strallman down to the AHL to work out his D game makes just as much sense. I'd love to see Strallman and Schenn on the blue line together some day, as their skills would complement each other...

eyebleaf said...

@ Skids: I don't think you can compare Schenn and Stralman. Schenn is 18 years old, Stralman is 23 and has played against men in the Swedish Elite League, World Hockey Championships, AHL and NHL. This is Schenn's first time playing against men and he's a very highly touted first round draft pick, and Stralman isn't.

I think Stralman has the potential to be a Kaberle type player on the back end. Not physical, but playing more with his brain. Great skater, great passer, and great ability to lead the rush. Schenn doesn't have those abilities (with the puck) yet, but I'm confident he will learn them.

I think, as we are in a development year, Stralman, at his age, will benefit more of a full season playing every night (15-18 mins) in the NHL.

Personally, I think Schenn needs to be sent down. Another year in the Dub cannot hurt him.

As for White, I think he's got upside, I just don't really understand the serious hatred that has been unleashed on the poor soul who's a 5th or 6th d-man and makes like $850 K a year...