Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Brett McLean Five-Point Special

You know, I considered watching the game last night. I've been itching for some hockey lately, I've liked watching the Panthers since the Pavel Bure trade, Toronto was coming off of a big win in a season where there haven't been many. Was I naive enough to think that doubling up Ottawa was going to kick the Maple Leafs into a playoff push? Of course not, but I thought that maybe they'd be up for playing a good hockey game.

I was wrong.

Thankfully, much like the night before when I had the option of watching The Baby-Sitters Club on television but decided to stay in bed, I passed. Judging by the 8-0 score, the hat-trick (and assist) from Richard Zednik and a five point night from Brett "What the FUCK?!" McLean, and Andrew Raycroft's magnificent 4 GA/7 SV/31 MIN stat-line... I'm not going to lose any sleep over it.

There's not many positive things you can say about this team these days. Actually, I've narrowed it down to two:

1) Andy Wozniewski was waived today. Yeah, you can look at this as a "Bryan McCabe is finally back" moment, or you can look at it as "Wozniewski is finally off the damn team". I'm going with the second one. It's cloudy outside, but I could have sworn I could see sun when I read about this.

2) The real big wins for this team are the big losses. In which case, HELL FUCKING YEAH WHAT A GAME

Really, since Tampa and LA won (not to mention Edmonton the night before), and since we were somehow closing in on the Panthers, this just helps solidify a top pick in the draft. While I haven't lost my faith that this team to completely fuck this up and end up in 9th place yet again, every loss brings us closer to that not happening.


Steve and I have discussed what we think Fletcher needs to do in the next 20 days to right this ship, or at least cover the sinkholes and give the next guy buckets to bail the water out. Steve is very much a "trade Sundin" guy, believing the first priority should be to dump Mats to the highest bidder. I don't think this is necessarily an anti-Sundin sentiment. I know that Steve thinks the key is to get rid of Sundin so that those who are left behind are so demoralized that they only play worse, securing a higher draft pick. I suppose there's merit to that idea, except that I really don't think this team can get much worse. This is probably easy to write after last night's game, but they already play like shit with Sundin in the lineup. This just isn't a good team.

Me? Well, my stance was defined a couple of posts ago. That said, I'm more open to a Sundin deal now, and have singled out a couple of teams I wouldn't mind doing business with. The problem there is that I've been watching Mats toil for the blue and white for as long as I've been a hockey fan, and while I've never really considered myself a huge Mats guy (I've always liked him and thought he was one of the best players in the league, but it's not like I'm naming my hockey blog after him or anything), the thought of him in a different lineup makes me rather sad. So, I tend to want a lot for him, the kind of return that probably will have people laugh and think of me as a traditional message board Leafs fan who ridiculously overvalues Toronto players. Whatever. Here's what I've looked at around the league and decided I would be content with as a return on Sundin:

From Anaheim: Bobby Ryan and the Oilers' first pick (basically two top five picks in return for giving Mats his best shot at a Cup and probably a mortal lock that he'd come back in July).

From Carolina: Tim Gleason and two of Andrew Ladd, Brandon Sutter, and Carolina's first pick this year (probably a lot and this depends on the Hurricanes sticking around the playoff hunt and Rutherford not really thinking things through, but I like Gleason and think he'd be a good fit with the direction the blueline should be headed, plus you get a player, prospect, and a pick in the teens, or at least some combination of those three).

From Calgary: Alex Tanguay (yeah, I'd do this straight-up... doing this trade helps Calgary because it clears money off the books for next season, allowing them to try to keep Huselius/Langkow since you know Sundin wouldn't stay, it gives Sundin a decent shot at winning the Cup, and the public sentiment seems to have turned against Tanguay in Calgary. Here, it gives us a great, top-flight forward locked up - yeah, he's another big ticket guy, but Tanguay is the type you WANT to be dropping 5.75 million on. Plus, you get Sundin back next year, and you have two-thirds of a great top line already).

Of course, none of these are realistic and it's probably more likely we'll get an abortion of a return like the one suggested by Pierre LeBrun last week (Sundin and a one year extension to Detroit for Hudler, an '08 first, and an '09 second... the picks are worthless because Detroit always finishes so high, and I don't think Hudler is ever going to be anything special) and that I will be angry.

Anyway, I still don't think you need to trade Sundin, and I've started to sway myself on not dumping Pavel Kubina for whatever you can find. When Steve and I were discussing this, he asked me that if I can put together such a good argument for how he's valuable, then why not just keep him? And I really didn't have a good answer to that. I'd still move him if you can get something back, because he does have a large contract, but it's only for another two seasons and I'm no longer opposed to keeping him. A similar thing is happening with me and Jason Blake. His contract is horrible, but a 20 goal, 50 point guy has some value to a team, and that's assuming he doesn't rebound slightly. Past that, what are the options? Again, if you can find someone to take him, do it, but why buy him out and eat a 2 million cap hit for the next EIGHT years? $4 million sadly isn't bad for a top six guy and Blake is one of those. He just needs to be better for next year. But I mean, it could be worse... he could be Dustin Penner.

McCabe, Tucker, and Raycroft NEED to be off this team by next season. I think Gill will get moved at the deadline, and Bell will probably get bought out. I think Tucker would work well in Edmonton's lineup, but a) why would they try to add a veteran at the deadline? and b) why would Tucker waive his no-trade clause to go to another rebuilding team? Maybe it's just my unbridled desire to get Rob Schremp that's giving me these thoughts.

I think we might start doing regular game-day topics around here like you see on a real hockey blog. Who knows?

Oh and Steve, no, I am not going to stop ridiculously over-labelling my posts.

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