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Sunday, July 3, 2011

What move does TOR make now?

Cody Franson
Toronto's Brian Burke and company today acquired Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi from Nashville for Brett Lebda and Robert Slaney. Also included is a conditional 4th rounder that could be either from TOR to NSH or from NSH to TOR depending on if Lombardi reaches the 60 games played threshold over the course of the next two seasons.

This trade was simply about money. Lombardi will make $3.5M over the next two seasons, yet only played in 2 games for NSH last season because of a severe concussion. NSH can't afford the risk of awaiting for a possible recovery since Lombardi's contract dollars are not covered by insurance. Thus, in their need to dump a non-producing, large contract, a cash poor team, NSH, partnered with a cash rich team, TOR.

The price tag that allowed NSH from escaping from an untenable situation like this was a young NHL top six d-man (Franson). The rest of the pieces are just balancing weights. So, here is what the TOR roster looks after the trade:

Toronto Maple Leafs
Left WingCenterRight Wing
Clarke MacArthur ($2.50*)Tim Connolly ($4.750)Phil Kessel ($5.400) 
Joffrey Lupul ($4.250)Mikhail Grabovski ($2.900)Nikolai Kulemin ($2.350) 
Nazem Kadri ($1.720)Joe Colborne ($1.100)Colby Armstrong ($3.000) 
Mike Brown ($0.736)Tyler Bozak ($1.00*)Colton Orr ($1.000) 
Jay Rosehill ($0.600)Matthew Lombardi ($3.500) 
Left DefenseRight DefenseGoalie
Dion Phaneuf ($6.500)John-Michael Liles ($4.200) James Reimer ($1.800)
Keith Aulie ($0.733)Luke Schenn ($3.00*) Jonas Gustavsson ($1.350) 
Carl Gunnarsson ($1.325)Cody Franson ($0.800) 
Mike Komisarek ($4.500) 
BuyoutsDarcy Tucker ($1.000)
Salary Cap$64,300,000($1,212,500 Bonuses)
Cap Payroll$60,015,000
Cap Space$4,285,000(23-man roster)
Courtesy | * estimate

What stands out is the surplus of top six d-men on the roster, yet still the lack of a top line center, despite the signing of UFA Tim Connolly (he's a 60 point player over a full season, but he hasn't played 80 games in 7 years!).
Luke Schenn

We know Burke's mandate is to compete for a Stanley Cup. What he needs is a legitimate #1C. Perhaps Nazem Kadri can be that pivot one day. I don't get the sense though, Burke is going to take a chance by waiting for that possibility. Instead he'll look outward for the answer for down the middle.

What is remaining in the free agent market that could fit the bill are restricted free agents, namely one, Steven Stamkos. Normally a young super star like Stamkos would've already been locked up by his current team, in this case Tampa Bay. However, there he is still sitting on the RFA market.

How does Burke get him? The only way to really acquire Stamkos is if he is dead set on playing for his hometown team, the Leafs. If that is the case, he will be a Leaf at some point this summer.

Steven Stamkos
It's like the Phil Kessel situation a couple years ago. He was not going to sign with Boston and the only team he wanted to go to was TOR. In the end, Boston had no choice but to send him to the Leafs (not that it worked out badly for BOS). No other team was going to trade for Kessel if they were going to get stuck in the same situation as BOS, with a player that only wanted to play for one other team.

Let's say Stamkos wants to play also only for TOR -- well, if he plays his cards right, TBL will be forced to strike a deal with TOR at some point. However, it all depends on what Stamkos wants.

Update 8/30/11:
Well Steven Stamkos obviously wasn't interseted in abandoning the Tamopa Bay Lightning for Toronto -- at least not immediately. The five-year deal he eventually ended up signing with his current team, will lock him up for the entirety of his RFA years. During the early part of negotiations, his agent, Don Meehan was optimistic -- he said in a radio interview on July 6:
"Well, you know, this isn't something that necessarily has to happen on July 1. It could happen later than that. There's always that possibility. Right now the primary focus is on negotiating a contract with Tampa. We're doing that effectively so far. We haven't gotten to the point where either side is frustrated and would warrant an offer sheet. For the time being, our negotiations are going well."
A couple weeks later, Stamkos signed with TBL, and soon after revealed in a TSN interview he wasn't aware of any offer-sheets:
"To be completely honest, I wasn't aware of any of those discussions...Obviously I heard the rumours, being in Toronto for the summer, but to be completely honest I was unaware of any conversations, if there were any."
Nevertheless, it is interesting that he eventually accepted a deal that only covered his RFA years. The reason it got done relatively quickly was because Tampa must have given in to Meehan's demands. Upon expiry of this deal, assuming Stamkos doesn't sign and extension, he'll be a UFA and free to walk to any team in the league. If home is where the heart is, I'm pretty sure playing in TOR will be very high on his list in five years time.

Matthew Lombardi
As for the present, the Leafs got some good news on the Matthew Lombardi front. A report out today quoted GM Brian Burke:

“(Matthew Lombardi) is cleared for full activity on the bike...The last report I got he was doing 20-plus minutes without symptoms. He has been declared symptom-free and now it’s about getting the workload back up...I don’t believe he will be there for the first day of training camp...He may, but it’s not clear he will. But we’re very pleased with his progress.”

As for RFA Luke Schenn, as expected, there doesn't seem to be too much concern over his status. He remains unsigned as of the end of August with a couple weeks left until training camp. The article quotes GM Brian Burke: “We’ve had some discussions...We remain optimistic that we’ll sign him before camp.” And it certainly doesn't sound like he's been shopping the promising shutdown d-man. “Right now, I’ve got nothing going,” said Burke. “This is the group we’re likely to head in with.” The article mentioned that Schenn’s agent, Don Meehan "expects to meet with the Leafs later this week."


  1. that would be nice? if stammer really wanted to play for the leafs i'd say get it done.i have total confidence in burke and i know he will swing something big

  2. Yup, that's the key, Stammer's level of desire to play with the Leafs and at the same time, willingness to go through what would be an ugly divorce from TBL & their fans. If Stammer is up for all of that, Burke will take care of the rest.

  3. i will cry if we get Stamkos.... franchise centre