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Which one of the “lesser-lights” from the Kings or Devils would you like to see on the Maple Leafs?

Now that we have crowned a new Stanley Cup champion, people’s attention will turn in earnest to the usual summer activities that every fan hopes will make their team better for next season.  (Heck, for the past several weeks, Zach Parise’s name has been bandied about regarding where he will play in 2012-’13 and the guy was still otherwise pre-occupied in the playoffs with the Devils…) Those activities include the entry draft, possible trades and of course, the traditional July 1 UFA feeding frenzy.

We talked here yesterday about how “far” (or close) the Leafs are to being a contending hockey club.  The consensus of those who posted here certainly seemed to be that while improvements to the roster have been made, the blue and white remain a ways off from being legitimate contenders for a championship.

But I thought today we’d simply have some fun and do something that is arbitrary and not necessarily rooted in reality.  That is, I’m looking for your opinions on the following question:  If you could have one player from either of the two Stanley Cup finalists (Kings and Devils—you can only pick one, not one from both teams) who would that player be?

I wanted to frame the question such that we would avoid the more obvious answers— Quick (who is going nowhere), Doughty (who is not available) or Parise (who will be a free agent soon but will likely either re-sign in Jersey or end up in Minnesota or Detroit).  My thought was, apart from the big-name guys, who is a lower-profile player with either New Jersey or LA who you think would be a great fit here in Toronto?

For me, it would be Travis Zajac or Adam Henrique from Jersey, Jarrett Stoll or Dustin Brown from the newly-crowned world champion Kings.

And if I could only select one, it would probably be Brown (hey, if you believe the rumor mill, he was almost a Leaf at the deadline, eh?)

In any event, as I said, I’m not suggesting any of these players could end up here, but send your thoughts along….


  1. I think Stoll is a UFA. Would he be better than Bozak?

  2. Before tonights game I would have said Clarkson, but after watching him meltdown in the last game I think I'll pass. When you score 31 goals in a season and your team is down in potentially the last game of the year you should be one of the go to guys not sitting in the box with a 10 minute musconduct because you don't like the way the game is going. Pathetic.

    I think I would like Matt Greene for my team. He is everything Schenn hopes to be. Big, mean, physical, excellent shut down guy and plays the hard minutes in a game. Schenn hits but he just doesn't have the mean streak Greene has. He intimidates people and he plays a good solid safe game. He very much impressed me. I always told my boss (Oilers fan) that Edmonton was making a mistake getting rid of him. Since then the Oilers have been looking for a big mean guy to play defense. To me a good example of why not to trade Schenn. This is what he could end up being.

  3. Stoll has been on my mind for a while, DP. He's much older than Bozak, of course, but the hard part is projecting what Bozak will be in a few years...

  4. I like your assessment of Matt Greene, Willbur. You often find out a lot about about players when you see them in the playoffs...he's a guy that could help a lot of teams- including the Oilers!

  5. Greene is 6 1/2 years older than Schenn. Greene didn't play in the NHL at 18, but after the draft went to UND for three years and then to the AHL. That's a much easier career path.

    I think in less than 5 years you will see Schenn is far better than Greene. Schenn's offensive numbers at 19 were better than Greene's carreer high. The mean streak could develop more as time passes. Many hockey players do get meaner and dirtier as they age.

  6. As Willbur wrote, Greene is a very solid player right now, very hard to play against. But I agree, DP (I'm sure Willbur would as well) that defensemen need time to develop. He wasn't comparing Greene with anyone, just answering my question about a player he'd like to see with the Leafs.

    This is why I often say I don't like trading away young defensmen (like Aulie). We just don't know what their ceiling might be as they gain confidence and experience.

    Thanks DP.

  7. Pass on Stoll. He's getting old and hasn't cracked 50 pts since 06. He's physical, but takes bad penalties, and to be honest, he's probably barely an upgrade on Bozak, and what we need is high-end talent as opposed to more middling talent. We're not going to fix this team by overpaying a bunch of middle-lower tier players (Florida for example, probably the worst team to make the playoffs in my memory).

    I think it's a stretch to call Brown low-profile as well, but I would take him in a heartbeat. A lot of fans (myself included) really wanted Burke to go hard for it when it "leaked" that Brown was being shopped, although that turned out to be just a motivational ploy it seems.

    As for the Devils, Henrique had been getting Conn Smythe buzz as a potential player to win it if the Devils went all the way. He was a beast in the playoffs. But, he's got a lot of hype around him now, and I'm pretty sure Jersey considers him a cornerstone going forward and he's probably virtually untouchable.

    I think Zajac would be a very nice get for us in a vacuum, but he's really best as a #2 center, and we already have a really good one there.

    In the end, I'm probably still bitter that we were allegedly so close to getting Mike Richards, but Kulemin being in the package ended up being the tipping point that cost us a #1C for the next decade. At the time I was upset Burke didn't pull the trigger, and now in retrospect it seems even worse after the season Kulemin had (and Kadri's basically non-factor time as a Leaf).

    I know Clarkson was stupid last night, but I think he's a player that I'd like to see on the Leafs that is still relatively unknown (even though this season was spectacular for him). He also has the advantage of having an expiring contract (end of next season), which is convenient at the TDL, and in case this past season was an outlier instead of a sign of trending up.

  8. Interesting comments, Darryl. I like Stoll but you make a good point about his age and the risk of (again) over-paying for middle-of-the-road players. Brown is an obvious attraction, as is Henrique. Of course, just about every other NHL team would like to have guys like that.

    The Mike Richards debate is always a fun one. If Philly had real goaltending, who knows what they might have achieved in these playoffs. I still like the trades they made from their end last summer, but in the short-term, the Kings "win", for sure.

    I understand Willbur's frustration with Clarkson, but he's an awfully good player, yes.

    Thanks Darryl.

  9. I had hoped for our sake that Clarkson would have tested restricted free agency in 2010, but that did not happen.

    I note a strong consensus lately about the Leafs overpaying middling players, presumably as a result of dipping into the free agency pool. This consensus is unlike the Veteran Goaltender Myth, which in my opinion is the manufacture of “truth” by repetition of non-critical thought. No goaltender or goaltender coach in the history of the game could have coped with last year’s defective Leaf coaching and team play. While Reimer, Gustavsson and Scrivens struggled at different times and are obviously not elite goaltenders at their current stage of development, the idea that any recently available veteran goaltender could have done much differently seems like a convenient fiction to me. It’s a team position, a weak team results in weak goaltending. An elite goaltender is desirable of course; however, an average veteran one would be a backward step given the talented youngsters we currently have (assuming Srivens signs). Remember the Leaf management’s argument that Tukka Rask was expendable because we had Pogge, after all?

    Which brings me to the other side of the Overpaid Middling Player Consensus: The lack of true elite players at each position. So, how did we get there? I think we can all agree that Burke inherited a mess. I think we can also agree that he has increased organizational depth at all positions through above average trading, drafting and college/Euro free agent signings. Phaneuf, Kessel, Lupul and others are high end. Are they elite though, in the sense of leading the team into the playoffs? Unless the coaching was worse than I think, I guess the facts speak for themselves.

    This absence leads to my next point: How do you acquire elite players? One way has been through front-loaded contracts offered to free agents. Burke has clearly stated that he will not do that. The other is through drafting, usually players who are destined to be elite players and snapped up early in the draft. Again, Burke has shown little patience for that route, illustrated by his paying dearly for Kessel (in exchange for what turned out to be potential elite players in Seguin and Hamilton). This approach leaves the obviously competent Dave Morrison in the unenviable position of pulling rabbits out of a hat. The other way, as rare as a hockey player with a full set of teeth, is when a true elite player becomes available via trade, where a shrewd dealer, which Burke often is, intervenes, or perhaps our collective hope of divine intervention.

    Now, what about Burke’s philosophy of “spending to the cap”. OK. Fine. But what happens when the players you have developed through shrewd acquisitions become bottlenecked by Overpaid Middling Free Agents? Can you allow for a natural progression of talent on affordable NHL contracts, or do you keep them on an AHL treadmill? And, let’s say you did not overpay those middling players, and promoted the D’Amigos, Holzers, Kadris, Scrivens and the like? Many would say that there are potentially higher ceilings for those players. However, there would also be higher ceilings for cap spending, and therefore potentially acquiring an elite player via free agency or trade?

    I guess, the other side of the coin is that a number of consensus Overpaid Middling Players are on expiring contracts. Nevertheless, it appears that a better evolution of the team would see several Marlies promoted this coming season (assuming there is one given the labour dispute). Perhaps this problem is a symptom of Dallas Eakins and his staff overperforming, or the amateur scouting staff doing good work with average drafting positions? Perhaps it has to do with savvy recruitment and trades. Whatever the case, it has not yet resulted in a winning parent club. Just as there is a lack of true elite talent on the club at all three positions, the current roster contracts and player development seems out of synch. It will be interesting to see if any of these problems can be remedied in the coming months.

  10. As always, your post stands on its own merits and there is not much I can add to an overview that is that well presented.

    I will only say that I agree that Morrison is a very competent evaluator, in my view, but he has been hamstrung by not being able to truly flex his drafting muscle in recent years. Yes, finding diamonds in the rough happens to all good scouts, but it is relatively rare and it usually takes years to see that "pick" become noteworthy. It helps to have a shot at the big fish.

    I think we have had a shifting "philosophy" during Burke's tenure, which makes it difficult to follow the "plan", whatever it is this week. To me, that is why things remain, as you put it Bobby C., "out of synch"...

  11. DP I completely agree with you about Schenn. That's why I say getting rid of him would be a huge mistake. If Schenn develops into Greene as is that would a decent ceiling and would be a vital part of a winning team. If he realizes his offensive potential, and I have been saying for a long time that Schenn is not going to be a shut down guy but a solid two way player who puts up 40 points, that would be just a bonus.

    I see Schenn more as a Roman Hamerlik type of guy. Dependable at both ends of the rink with a very long career. A guy who is good at all parts of the game without really excelling at any part. Just a dependable guy.

    As per Clarkson, I had hoped the Leafs would go after him last summer. I still think he had a major brain cramp last night. I really question the guys hockey IQ. Yes he scored 31 goals and brings the "muckulence" the Leafs don't have but he was a selfish jackass in the Devil's biggest game of the year. If you can't count on a guy at such a moment is he really worth having? Last night completely changed my outlook on Clarkson, huge fan before not so much today. Hopefully, he learned something and will grow from this experience.

  12. I'd hate to give up Schenn as well, Willbur. Of course, any player is available for the "right" price, but as I say here all the time, trading young defensemen with potential is almost always a bad idea.

    I hear you on Clarkson. Fine player, but I guess the question in these situations always is, was that a one-time thing, or was that the kind of ill-timed meltdown that will crop up again?

  13. I don't think he's available, so a wish list player if you will, would be Justin Williams. Loved his effort, speed, playing making skill - was nice to be able to watch teams/players that you don't get to see enough during the regular season.

  14. Great name, Anon, and an interesting one, too. Wasn't he a high pick of the Flyers years ago, a guy big things were expected of?