THE LION SLEEPS (LEAFS OFFSEASON)
This pretty much summed up July 1st.
Salutations my beautiful people! Summer has hit full stride, and I am on break for the next two months, which means, the Leafs will do little to no big moves from now until September. We have all seen how crazy the first day of free agency was, as over HALF A BILLION DOLLARS was spent on signing free agents in less than 24 hours!!!
But what we are here for is to talk about what the Leafs have done so far. Although the Leafs have not done really huge moves, they do have an impact on the team next season and down the road. I have already discussed about William Nylander and how awesome he is, so don't go nuts about me not mentioning him!
But without further ado, lets begin!
Day 2 of Draft was "Interesting"
And by interesting, I mean it was not exciting except for one trade. To start, the Leafs drafted the following players after picking Nylander:
|2014||NHL||Entry||1||8||William Nylander||MODO (SWEDEN)|
|2014||NHL||Entry||3||68||Rinat Valiev||KOOTENAY (WHL)|
|2014||NHL||Entry||4||103||John Piccinich||YOUNGSTOWN (USHL)|
|2014||NHL||Entry||5||128||Dakota Joshua||SIOUX FALLS (USHL)|
|2014||NHL||Entry||6||158||Nolan Vesey||SOUTH SHORE (USPHL PRE.)|
|2014||NHL||Entry||7||188||Pierre Engvall||FROLUNDA JR. (SWEDEN-JR.)|
This makes up for an interesting list of prospects that will make Don Cherry cry, as none of these players are "truly Canadian." Still, considering how Brendan Shanahan wants to make the Leafs a better team prospect wise, these are good picks. These picks will be discussed in another blog for another day.
Perhaps the biggest news from Leafs Land that happened that day was departing of Carl Gunnarsson and the arrival of Roman Polak. In addition, the Leafs gave up one of their three fourth round draft picks in order to bring in the former Blues defenceman. I was glad that this trade happened for a number of reasons:
- Polak is a right-handed defenceman, something that the Leafs did not have enough of last season.
- He is a big, solid, and effective shut-down defenceman. Gunnarsson was not a shut-down defenceman, so this acts as an upgrade.
- Polak is only 28 years old as of today, so he will be serviceable for at least 6 more seasons.
- He used to play on the St. Louis Blues, a team that has made the playoffs recently. So he has to be good.
This video gives you an idea of what to expect from Polak:
IMO, I believe that the addition of Polak is a huge plus to a Leaf team that lacks toughness and right handed shooting. Polak provides that, along with some youth and balance on the back-end, in terms of depth. Hopefully 2bcProductions2bc isn't TOO upset at this trade! ;)
Shanahan: "We were strategic, we had a plan."
When the clock struck noon on July 1st, I honestly had no idea of what to expect of who would go where. There were some decent players available, and I hoped the Leafs would not repeat the nightmares of David Clarkson. What happened was that other teams overspent and the Leafs made improvements to their depth with the following moves:
1) Bring back Matt Frattin
Welcome back indeed! In order for the Leafs to bring back the former NCAA leading scorer and ace at hitting the post, the Leafs gave Columbus Jerry D'Amigo and a seventh round draft pick. Boy are we glad that Frattin is back for round two, as he instantly fills a hole left by the departure of May-Ray. Not only is Frattin familiar with the players and the surroundings, but he is also better defensively and is ready to not hit the post anymore (Remember Game 7?).
And just in case you forgot what Frattin has to offer, here is a fresh reminder:
Not much else needs to be said about Frattin, I am just glad that he is back!
2) The Troll on the Ice is Back
I do not need to tell you how excited I am to have Komarov back on the Leafs. But where do I begin? He loves the city and the team, he is a pesky little bugger, he has experience in the KHL and the Olympics, and is now ready to score more goals! A large percentage of Leaf Nation was excited for his return, including some of the Leafs themselves.
And while everyone was celebrating Komarov's home coming, I just kept having this song stuck in my head:
Just like with Matt Frattin, there is also a video that I found that will help you refresh your memory on what Komarov provides, just in case you forgot:
The one thing I do hope that Komarov does next season is score at least 15 goals as well as bring back the pesky finesse to his game. The same one that made him a team and crowd favourite in the shortened season. Welcome back Leo!
3) Veteran Leadership on the Back end
You know you have signed a veteran player when he says "I want to be part of the development of Rielly and Gardiner." That sums up the main reason why Stephane Robidas was signed to a three year contract. At 37 years of age, he instantly becomes the oldest player on the Leafs! To put into prespective of just how young the Leafs are, the next oldest player is 31, and the rest are in their 20s.
But what does Robidas provide to the Leafs? Well, with the addition of Robidas, the Leafs now become harder to play against as he battles for every inch of the ice and is popular wherever he plays. Despite being small and recently had a leg injury, he still can be an effective player and will continue to do so until his contract expires at the age of 40.
Here is a short video that shows what Robidas brings to the table:
Hopefully Robidas still has enough left in the tank to help bring this Leaf team to the promise land, as it is highly likely that he wants to win the Cup before he calls it a career. Welcome Stephane!
4) Depth, Re-signings, and more.
Since those three big moves from free agency, the list of what the Leafs have done kind of trials off. But, here is a list of some of the other players acquired by the Leafs:
|Date||Player||Former team||Contract terms|
(in U.S. dollars)
|July 3, 2014||Petri Kontiola||Traktor Chelyabinsk||1 year|
|July 3, 2014||Mike Santorelli||Vancouver Canucks||1 year|||
|July 3, 2014||Troy Bodie||Toronto Maple Leafs||1 year|||
|July 10, 2014||Trevor Smith||Toronto Maple Leafs||1 year|||
|July 10, 2014||Rinat Valiev||Kootenay Ice (WHL)||3 years|||
|July 11, 2014||Jamie Devane||Toronto Marlies (AHL)||2 years|||
This list is sure to increase as the summer rolls along. I promise that I will do an update list towards the end of the summer as well as the RFAs resigned by the Leafs.
As you can see, the offseason so far has been particularly quiet for the Leafs. It seems that Shanahan is sticking to his words by not building his team through free agency and instead building from within. The reason that these signings and trades have occurred was to help fix the depth that was lacking since 2011-12. There is still a lot more work to be done this offseason, but this is a start.
If I were to expect anything going forward, it would be RFA signings and possibly a minor trade, but nothing much else.
What do you guys think? Leave your responses in the comments below.
Have a good summer everyone!