Monday, July 27, 2009

Did trading Stralman actually free up space?

So the Leafs have traded Anton Stralman, Colin Stuart, and a 7th round pick in exchange for Wayne Primeau and a 2nd.

First off, there's still some confusion over Stralman's status with regards to waiver eligibility, and in looking it over I see I was wrong the last time I looked it up too:

The Leafs signed Anton Stralman to a 3 year entry level contract on May 16, 2007. Stralman was born on August 1, 1986, meaning that he was still technically 20 years old at the time of the signing, but according to the NHL he was 21 for the purposes of waiver eligibility (as player age is decided by the calendar year he turns 21, not the player's age the day he signs).

Players signing their first NHL contract at the age of 21 are waiver exempt for 3 years or until they have played 60 NHL games, according to NHLscap. Stralman's 38 games played last year added to his 50 the year before mean that he will be waiver eligible this year.

So the short answer is yes, trading Stralman gets one NHL defenseman off the roster. 3 more to go...


With that in mind, is this a bad trade? It's tough to say.

Trading Stralie as he is for a 2nd is decent market value, and considering that he's likely too far down on the depth chart to make the club after camp calling him up next year would be impossible (or force us to do what we were doing last season, with the rotating carousel of defensemen). Unless he was going to have a massive showing at camp it's probably for the best that we got what assets we could.

Also, knowing Burke, this is another "give the kid a shot" move, letting someone go so that they can find success elsewhere. It's possible that Stralman asked for a trade, it's possible that he was considering bolting to Sweden.

On the flipside, this is exactly the kind of trade that has been historically biting the Leafs in the ass. Stralman's ceiling is high, and he was coming off career highs in points in both the AHL and NHL as well as improved defensive stats over his rookie season, despite what public perception of his play was. Stralman was not a regressing player, he was an improving one, and there's every chance to believe that if he can crack a lineup we'll be moaning about it later.

Also, this is a salary dump on Calgary's part, albeit a small one. They're a team right up against the salary cap, they're supposed to be paying for the priviledge of getting money off the books. So why did we trade two young guys and a pick? I'd be much happier with this trade if we'd actually added to our draft pool, but we didn't (and for the nay sayers that want to say 7th rounders never amount to resources, Stralman was a 7th round pick and he gave us 88 games and evidently some trade leverage).

There's also the issue of depth. I just made a post about the Leafs' success rate without Kaberle in the lineup in the event he goes, but Stralman was a big part of those games in terms of PP time and outlet passing. Beyond Schenn and Stralman, the Leafs blueline prospects were incredibly thin on talent, and are now even more so. There's also nobody on the Marlies or even close to the roster in the pipeline who possesses the same skill set as Stralman. 3 years down the line, when we've ditched just about all our blue line corps, will we be glad we dumped Stralie with nobody else to take a puck-moving role on our defense for one more year of Mike Van Ryn and Jonas Frogren?

The expectation this offseason was that we would get younger, and that we would add scoring talent. This trade does neither, and in the last few days all we've seen from Burke is the intention of dumping 23 year olds from the thinnest parts of our depth chart.

All told, it's hard to be ecstatic about getting a 2nd and a 33 year-old for two younger guys and a pick, especially for a team that has historically paid dearly for not developing it's players. But there's every chance that both Stralman and Stuart never play an NHL game again. There's also every chance that Stralman finds a way to live up to his potential. I'd give it about 50/50. But Burke had to do something, and this deal was certainly that.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Better Know a Leaf: Jeff Finger

Finger Money
1. Being paid an amount that is not commensurate with one's value.
2. $14 million dollars over 4 years.

ex. I wanted the team to sign him, but then I found out he wanted Finger Money.

On today's segment of Better Know a Leaf, we'll be looking at last year's big free agent splash Jeff Finger.

Jeff was born December 18th 1979 in
Houghton Michigan. He was drafted 240th overall in the 1999 entry draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He played in the NHL for the first time in the 2006-2007 season, notching a goal and four assists in 22 games. He spent the following season on the Avs full-time, going 8-11-19 with a +12 rating in 72 games.

Following his first full season in the NHL, Finger was signed to a 4 year, 14 million dollar contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 1st, 2008, on which day the term "Finger Money" was added to the public lexicon of Leaf bashing.

Now, first a sample of the total BS floating around the web about Finger:

via sportsnet

Plays a steady game from the back end and usually limits his mistakes. Can log plenty of ice time and is a solid team-first player.

Has never put up great offensive numbers and probably never will. Isn't a physical player, despite his 6-1, 205-pound frame.

Now, I believe I'd covered some of this in a previous post just after the Finger signing, but I'll reiterate. Last year Finger put up 136 hits, good enough for 2nd on the Leafs and 30th among all NHL defensemen. His 158 blocked shots were good enough for first on the team and 18th overall for an NHL defenseman. Sounds to me like he's using that 6-1 205-pound frame pretty well.

Plus he can do this. And this.

Now, as for the "never put up great offensive numbers" bit, it's worth noting Jeff had 48 points in 55 games in the USHL as a 21 year-old. In even-strength scoring last season, Finger's 6 goals are tied for 15th in the NHL among defensemen, and his 15 assists tie him for 36th. Both of those numbers, by the way, lead the Leafs in even-strength scoring on the blueline. Finger's first goal as a Leaf was scored on November 25th, against the Thrashers.

Are those great offensive numbers? Not at first, it's hard to get excited over 23 points in 66 games. But that production is certainly valuable, and the fact that Finger was able to outscore two players in Kaberle and Kubina (who are paid more and are seasoned NHL vets) at even strength is pretty significant.

Now, Finger's had his mental lapses in the zone, and I'll never forget his performance on Wendel Night. But those nights happen for a player, and hopefully with more experience at the NHL level he can tighten up his game even more.


There are 30 teams in the NHL, meaning that theoretically there are 120 top-4 defensemen in this league. Finger's being paid like a top-4 guy, and statwise he actually comes out pretty well given his lack of PP time (6th on the team in minutes, behind Van Ryn who played half as many games). If anything, it's hard to argue that he's not worth the money on this team for what he provides. Derek Morris just signed a similar contract with the Bruins and stat-wise they're almost the same player... except that Finger is the clear winner in terms of hits and shots blocked.

Unfortunately for Jeff, he's become the kind of Leaf that will always be known for his reputation, an overpaid AHL calibre player, than for his on-ice deeds. Hopefully he can put on a good enough performance in the next few years of his contract that he won't be remembered as a raspberry by most of the fan base.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Life without Kabby?

There's been a lot of scuttlebutt about Kaberle and the moving of. We've gone from "definitely trading him to Boston" to Burke saying "hey now, this is Tomas friggin Kaberle. I'm not just gonna go trade him for some money-grubbing one season wonder over here." And good for him. But the fact remains that we have a logjam on D and Kabby remains our most tradable asset, so we might as well talk about it.

The main concern with Leafs fans and enemies alike is the state of Toronto's offense without their smooth skating cross-ice passer. After all, who wants to watch the Maple Leafs re-enact the Ottawa Senators 08-09 season?

But quite honestly, we're talking about a 31 point player who played 57 games last year. Is Kabby really the lynchpin of our offense?

So I figured, why not just take a look at how we did without the guy?

With Kaberle in the Leafs roster:

Record: 22-26-9 (0.464 win %)
Average GF/game: 2.96

Without Kaberle in the Leafs roster:

Record: 12-9-4 (0.520 win %)
Average GF/game: 3.24

So um, yeah. Huh. Without Kabby in the roster the Leafs managed to put up a better winning percentage and more goals per game. Not even I was expecting that one.

It's also worth noting that Kaberle missed most of the month of March, which was also when the team was missing Dominic Moore and Nik Antropov due to trades. As such, this month may give us a look into how the team might play out next year:

March w/o Kabby:
Record: 6-6-0
Average GF/game: 3.08
PP%: 21.9
PK%: 77.5

Defensemen (games played):
Finger: 12
Frogren: 3
Kubina: 12
Oreskovic: 9
Schenn: 12
Stralman: 9
Van Ryn: 2
White: 12

Note that our powerplay % in the March games Kabby missed was actually better than our average for the whole season, as was (sadly) our PK.


So, some things worth taking a huge grain of salt for:
The Leafs definitely got an added boost from Gerber and the defensive play of guys like Devereaux and Ondrus. Also, we're talking about a tiny sample size here, about a third of a season when the Leafs happened to get pretty hot. And there's no real way to factor Kubina out of the time Kabby had off.

But Scott, what does it all mean?

Nothing definitive, that's for sure.

Even so, the numbers are implying what I was thinking all this time, that while Kaberle's a good player the Leafs never really seemed to miss him as much as some would like to think. The Leafs got hot around last third of the season, but it seems suspicious that they managed to do so without two of the most highly thought of players on their roster, Kaberle and Antropov.

Is Kaberle a quality player? Most assuredly yes. Can we live without him, assuming we can nab an acceptable return back? I'm willing to go out on a limb here and say yes. It would certainly help if either Van Ryn or Beauchemin can re-discover the ability to put up 30 or so points, or if Stralman comes back with a good showing, though.

Now, if Kabby were to remain with us, well then. Wouldn't that be an interesting D corps...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Is Patrick Sharp the right guy for the Leafs?

he certainly wouldn't make a bad-looking Leaf

Chicago's cap situation has got the vultures circling, and there's been a lot of press and talk about Patrick Sharp and his 3.9 million dollar contract being the magical salve that the franchise needs.

First off, it's been reported many times that including the bonus cushion it's entirely possible for Chicago to ice a competitive team and remain under the cap without trading anyone except Brent Sopel. If Chicago doesn't see a deal they like, they aren't actually under a whole lot of pressure to pull the trigger.

The excellent Leaf dudes at MLHS have been throwing around ideas for what exactly that might entail, knowing full well that whatever we give up must be low in salary in order to make the deal work. Picks, and prospects like Tlusty or Stefanovich, are being thrown around as ideas.


But let's just get some things straight here. Sharp is not really a "young gun" unless you're also willing to call Ponikarovsky a young gun, as they're only a year apart and Sharp will be 28 this December. Sharpy's entering the prime of his career, and what we've seen is likely all we're going to get from the guy.

Sharp has never been a PPG player in the AHL. He'd never scored 20 goals until his 4th season in the NHL, his second with Chicago who got him for a song (Matt Ellison, currently of the KHL's Dynamo Riga, and a 3rd rounder). He'd also never scored more than 35 points until he was 26, when it just so happened that some true young phenoms in the form of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane showed up on his team.

In true keeping with the easy, unscientific research that I've been doing over the past little while, I looked back into Sharp's past game logs and counted the times he'd factored in on a scoring play (either with a goal or assist) alongside either of Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews.

62 points
32 with Kane/Toews, 51.6% of total production

44 points
23 with Kane/Toews, 52.2% of total production

So what we have here is a slow-developing scoring winger who just happened to hit his prime at the same time that two young franchise players come into town, who have figured into half of his total production in the past two years.

(it's worth noting that Sharp missed a significant portion of the 2008/2009 season, extrapolated to 82 games he'd net around 55 points, lower than the previous year. It's also worth noting that Sharp's shooting percentage was .172 in his 36 goal campaign, higher than the league norm and his highest ever. As his percentage levelled off last year, so did his estimated production)

As I said in my last post, I don't think goal scoring will be as big a problem as some are implying next season, but the fact remains that we lack top 6 players. However, Sharp had never produced like one until his team suddenly had a dearth of offensive talent, and I'm not even counting Martin Havlat or Robert Lang yet.


Don't get me wrong, Sharp's a talented individual and were he to be a Leaf I'm sure he'd put up some points. But I don't think the fears among the fan base that he's more of a complimentary player than a game-breaker are unfounded, and I'm not sure that we need a 50-60 point player as bad as some think. In my mind 50-60 points is about right for what a player getting good minutes and PP time should have, it's not an exceptional total.

I wouldn't mind having Sharp on this team, but it's hard for me to come up with any good ways to think about it. Just Exelby for Sharp? Nah. Give up Stajan or Koolie? Both of them are either par for or out-producing Sharp at their age.

And why would we ever considering trading Tlusty (who is a PPG player in the AHL) with his age and potential, or Stefonovich and his near limitless offensive possibility? Doesn't trading anybody younger than Sharp with a smaller cap hit seem counter-productive for a rebuilding team? And with a pick? Especially as Sharp doesn't solve our needs at centre (he took fewer faceoffs than Stajan, Grabs, Moore, and Mitchell last year).

No, the only way this trade makes sense for Toronto is if we can do it for defensemen only, and if we don't have to give up any young guys with potential. And I have an extremely hard time seeing Chicago bite on Ian White.

And let's be honest, late bloomer, shortly removed from a close to 40 goal season, 4 million dollar contract, complimentary scoring forward. You all know what I'm thinking.

get ready for the fist pump!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Offseason Boredom Ramblings

A few days ago the Columbus Dispatch reported that Sharks GM Doug Wilson had turned down an offer to trade Christian Ehrhoff for Jason Chimera.

Chimera is a 30 year-old energy guy with blazing speed, a defensively sound player that the Sharks are in need of. Christian Ehrhoff is a 27 year-old Anton Stralman, a puck-moving defenseman possessing decent skating and offensive ability along with occasional catastrophic lapses in his own end.

Of course Wilson turned this trade down. As the departed John Ferguson Jr. showed us time and time again, speedy checking grinders who can play defense can be found for nothing. Bates Battaglia, Ben Ondrus, Boyd Devereaux, Dominic Moore, all of those guys played decent roles for the team and were had for no assets given up in return.

Which brings me to what this has to do with the Leafs.

No team should ever have to give up draft picks, young assets, or developing players in order to add bottom six role players. Unless the player in question is very good at what he does, it's just never worth the return. The free agency pool and waiver wire are full of these guys.

So what the fuck, Cliff Fletcher?


Pierre McGuire, during his orgasm-laden rant over the Leafs drafting Luke Schenn in 2008, took the time to state that "the rebuild is on in Toronto." Except it wasn't. In fact, it didn't start until Brian Burke took the helm of the club partway through the season.

Why might I say that?

Jamal Mayers:

This past season was described as "disappointing" by Mayers, in his first year with his home club he hit his lowest point total since 2004. Brought in as a defensive influence to help Toronto's abysmal power play, his contributions added up to a league-worst special teams unit.

Now, people have spoken glowingly of his dressing room performance, and on that I have no basis for critique. But we gave up a 3rd round pick for a 33 year old that added neither the offensive touch in the checking role we wanted nor the improved play on the penalty kill that we needed. In fact, Ron Wilson went on to quote the call-ups of Devereaux and Ondrus as the reason for our improved PK rate in the latter stages of the season, two players who were already in the Leafs system when Mayers was acquired.

Ryan Hollweg:

Seen here is Hollweg effectively ending the season of a promising 18 year-old. In full view of the Leafs' own top-flight rookie 18 year-old.

I was at that game. No matter what Wilson said after the fact, what Hollweg did was inexcusable, and it's ensuing penalty and demoralizing effect on the roster lost us a game we were in control of. Ryan, I hope you'll read this some day, because I've been to a few Leafs games in my time, some good efforts and some bad losses. That day was the only time I've ever felt embarrassed to be a Leafs fan in my own building. I hope you never play another game in the NHL.

We gave up a 5th round pick. He played 25 games. Enough said.


These moves seemed a little suspect at the time, and now that we know the results I can stand by the statement that no team should ever have to give up real assets in order to pick up players of this calibre.

Burke added character and grit in Brad May and didn't have to give up a single draft pick (although he could have). Thus far in his tenure Burke has never given in to the temptation to use draft picks and prospects in order to solve the teams' immediate problems.

Combined with the draft picks or prospects we lost adding Schenn, Grabovski, and getting rid of McCabe, Fletcher's interim era with the Leafs wasn't really the beginning of a rebuild. While some of the results of his moves are encouraging, the fact is that Fletcher was continuing in the tradition of burning up the future in order to solve the needs of the present.

We've gone a full season without giving up a draft choice for an ill-advised deal. Hopefully Burke's starting his own tradition.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Leafs might never score another goal again

At least, that's how you might feel if you've been buying into the "the Leafs are tougher on D and in goal, but who will score?" hype that's been floating around since Burkie made his major moves. The Leafs lack elite scoring forwards, it's true, in fact they lack true first line scoring players.

So I decided to take a look around the league last year at teams that also lacked real point producers. In this totally scientific survey utterly not conducted because of baseless speculation, I basically just checked team rosters for a lack of players who had around 75 points, and lacked more than one 30 goal scorer.

The results were pretty much what you'd expect from the bottom-feeding section of the NHL (after all, teams around us in the standings and all) and so the Islanders, Kings, and Avalanche all fall into this category.

The teams that placed above us who lacked singular point producers were: New York, Florida, Montreal, Minnesota, and Edmonton. Which is interesting as there's two playoff teams and two 9th place teams there, and if the Leafs are looking to show improvement with their roster then it would be these teams we can reasonably aspire to. Which is actually incredibly depressing, but I digress.

It's worth noting that none of the teams we might aspire to take the place of next year scored more goals than the Leafs (who were 10th in the league for GF). I then averaged their goals against over the season.

Average GA for "competitive" teams

Leafs GA from last season

Ffffffh. So the entirely unscientific argument can be made that if the Leafs can score around the same amount of goals next season and chop our goals against down by, say, 60 or so then we should reasonably be close to a playoff spot.


So let's just ignore the difficulties of cutting our GA for next season down by 20%, shall we, and move onto the question of whether or not it's reasonable to expect our roster to still be in the top 10 in the league for goals for with our recent subtractions from the roster.

The notable subtractions for the Leafs (thus far) are Nik Antropov, Dominic Moore, and Pavel Kubina, who combined for a grand total of 47 goals and 107 points last year.

Now the fun part is that we can track how the Leafs did in the last 30 games of the season without Antropov and Moore, so let's do that.

After the trade deadline the Leafs put up a 15-11-4 record for a .566 winning percentage. They scored 102 goals during that stretch, 41% of their total for the season, which works to about 3.4 goals for/game. That's better than the 2.8 GF/game that they'd been scoring previously.

During that 30 game stretch Pavel Kubina put up 16 points, with 4 powerplay goals and 10 total power play points, and two game-winning goals. That's production that will be missed, but I have to believe that whomever fills the void in Kubina's absence will be able to at least chip in some points on the power play.

One worry is Jason Blake, our leading goal and point scorer from last season, as his time spent with Moore was given a lot of credit towards his resurgence in the second half. We can also track how Blake did without Moore:

30 GP
25 pts
8 goals

So we can see that without his best buddy Moore he was still able to put up a third of his total goals and almost half of his assists in the last third of the season. I think it's safe to say that whatever happens with Blake next year, his production will not drop because of a lack of Moore exposure.


So is the Leafs' offense going to suffer next season? Probably, a little at least. Is it going to be a major problem? I don't think so, it's entirely possible for this group to show improvement in the standings with the group of forwards it has, so long as we can keep the puck out of our net.

But to be quite honest, people were predicting that our goals for would drop when Sundin, Tucker, and McCabe got shown the door, and it didn't happen, they were predicting that it would drop again when we got rid of Moore and Antropov and it certainly hasn't happened yet. The Leafs are lacking in truly skilled scoring forwards, but they've been able to score more than enough with simple hockey and hard work, and we have enough depth of players with some offensive skill that we can count on some goals going in eventually.

Yes we may have benefitted from a lack of pressure in the last third of the year, we also might have benefitted from getting to know Ron Wilson hockey and learning to play with our new additions. At this point I'm not willing to say anything for definite, but it doesn't look like scoring is going to be enough of a problem that we can't take a "wait and see" approach to how our offensive corps develops. One free agent signing or trade incumbent isn't going to push this offense over the top, and so we might as well leave some room open for one of our many new young forwards to hopefully surprise us come camp.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Everything old is... uh... slightly less old again

So another free agency period has come and with the Leafs' cap situation we look about set (aside from, you know, that one major signing in our weakest position that I won't talk about just yet).

Thing is, this all feels slightly familiar. In fact, it seems very familiar. Of course, as with all blogging speculation, I was totally wrong about the aftermath of our last defensive logjam (though I would like to brag that I totally called Carlo being the odd man out later in the season).

That doesn't mean I'm not going to baselessly speculate again though! After all, what would be the point of this blog if I didn't?


Well anyway, onto the nitty gritty of things.

Currently our defense looks a little something like this:

Van Ryn

Oof. That's... a lot of guys.

Luckily, I've learned that because Stralman signed his contract when he was 20, and has not played 160 games in the NHL, he will still be waiver exempt next season. However, since Frogren signed his contract when he was 27 and has played a season in the NHL he will no longer be waiver exempt. (thanks, nhlscap!)

Which means that once again, Stralman is our best candidate for "get buried in the minors until we can sort the rest of our roster out".

As new additions I severely doubt that Komisarek, Beauchemin, and Exelby are going to do anything other than play good minutes with the team. Schenn will likely stay with the club as well, Burke likes him and sending him down would be a PR disaster.

So assuming that our roster will consist of the 4 of...


who takes the other spots?

Van Ryn: The bastard child of a salary dump, Van Ryn is actually probably one of the better Dmen on the team. Unfortunately now that Colaiacovo is gone somebody had to catch jelly bones, and it happened to be him. As a player we never really planned to have on the club in the first place he's panned out well, but that doesn't mean he's become part of our future plans.

Why he could stay: Good presence in the offensive zone, solid overall play. Shatters glass with his face. Injuries place his trade value at near zero.

Why he could go: Downright dreadful injury history means we can't count on him as a roster player. Relatively large cap hit. Nearing 30, he may be getting too old to factor into the future of the young club. Will be a UFA after this season.

Finger: Our most contentious free agent signing of last season, he is the living embodiment of the fact that you always overpay in free agency. Negative media reaction was definitely overplayed, Finger was largely solid and played with a good physical edge (TSN also had him listed as a top free agent mere hours before Pierre Maguire spouted off about his contract on-air). All in all, as a free agent signing we didn't really give anything up for the guy, and he played in a style that was lacking from the roster previously.

Why he could say: Hits in every zone, blocks shots, holds some offensive skill. Salary makes him nearly impossible to trade.

Why he could go: He still hasn't proved himself one way or another yet. His inexperience with the speed of the NHL game still showed in several games last season. He'll be 30 in December, and will still likely have question marks all over his game by then.

White: A rare Leafs draft pick still playing with the club, he enjoyed increased responsibility last year as injuries took their toll and Wilson began punishing Kaberle by cutting his minutes. While I've made many a post on his mediocre offensive skills, the fact is that he acquitted himself as well as can be expected from a player of his size and skill level.

Why he could stay: His age and cap hit make him an attractive depth defenseman. Always stays healthy. Makes good transition passes out of the zone. As a homegrown Leafs pick he makes a statement for younger players earning their way to the team through the minor league system.

Why he could go: His value might never be this high again. The added depth this year almost pushes him completely off the team in terms of actual skill level and physical assets. Did poorly on the penalty kill, and while a self-styled offensive defenseman he doesn't produce as much as the shots and opportunities he takes should warrant.

Frogren: A free agent signing by Fletcher to add toughness to the line-up and ease Stralman's transition into the NHL, the manner of his signing ended up costing us a draft pick. While his hit count was impressive over the season, he tended to roam around the defensive zone and generally didn't take to the North American game as well as we might have hoped.

Why he could stay: A low cap hit makes him attractive. Plays a tougher, gritty, Burke style of play.

Why he could go: At 29 next season he'll be older than some other physical defensemen in the line-up, notably Schenn, Komisarek, and Exelby. For a defenseman who is not expected to contribute offensively his defensive play should be spotless, but he needs work.

Kaberle: The last one, and a big one. By far the best player in terms of talent and experience on the team, he also possesses a great contract. If we wanted to move him badly, I can't imagine there isn't a team out there that won't eventually break down and pony up assets to get him.

Why he could stay: Is another Leafs draft pick, and a veteran mainstay on the team. We would be hard pressed to replace his skills on the roster, especially if Stralman can't figure out his defensive game, and losing simply because we lack a good passer on the back end would just make us the Ottawa Senators.

Why he could go: Is extremely affordable for teams looking to compete, and is very skilled. The departure of Kubina likely makes him a little more uncomfortable in the dressing room, and he was non-commital on his future with the club last season. Had confrontations with Wilson last season, and as the oldest player on the defense he may not be around by the time we're ready to compete.

My baseless predictions? Kaberle and White will get traded, Frogren will likely be sent down.

Why? Players get dealt when either their values or high or they've had an unproductive season but are still felt to have upside. Teams don't want another teams garbage. Kaberle is easily our most tradeable asset, and White likely has more value than any other defenseman on that list, purely because of his age and cap hit. Van Ryn and Finger are both making too much money for too little of a showing last season, and there's no good reason for any club to take them off our hands.

Frogren is just getting left out due to our recent signings, there's at least 4 people on the squad that can fill his role but do it better. Maybe if his game undergoes some major revelations he'll make the decision harder, but as of now it's just hard to see where he fits in at his age and role.

I think I'm correct in saying that we've likely overpaid by about 500K-1M for Komisarek and Beauchemin, but I don't mind the signings. If we replace Kaberle with some prospect/draft pick, and factor in shipping out Kubina for Exelby, replacing May with Orr, and losing Cujo for... anybody then our roster gets significantly younger and tougher this year, both good things and both guaranteed by Burke before the offseason started in earnest. Good times.