Thursday, June 17, 2010

Where the Leafs Should Spend Their Money

There's been a lot of debate in Leaf circles on whether Burke should pursue Kovalchuk and Marleau; makes sense. Our boys haven't been in the playoffs in years and last season was tough so of course we're going to think about making the big splash.

There have also been debates about guys like Torres and Colby Armstrong -- fairly talented bottom six guys.

There's an obvious desire to see the team improve among fans and management alike but what makes sense? Here's my take.

Since Burke took the helm he's tried to change 'the culture' of the team, which essentially has meant shipping out everyone. Well, everyone but Kulemin. What he's brought back in have been cheap, young players with talent and blueliners that make significant coin.

My opinion on this offseason is to not spend a dime on anyone external to put into the bottom six. That simply isn't where we're at. Team Building 101 tells me that you get the talent core, then you round it out. We've got Kessel, Phaneuf and some other decent pieces but we're a little ways away from the 'rounding it out' stage.

Lots of people are against spending the kind of coin Kovalchuk will command on one player, often citing the Blackhawks 'no superstar-sized contracts' model. Those people are silly. There are only two ways to get players as talented as Kovalchuk; tank hard and win the draft lottery, or overpay in free agency. Burke isn't willing to tank (intentionally).

Maybe you don't want to give Kovalchuk the kind of money he could get elsewhere or give him that kind of term. Ok. That doesn't mean you don't pursue him. Sell him a bill of goods. Toronto can offer other things. It's arguably the biggest hockey market in the world and offers a huge stage. Who knows what kind of endorsement money a player of his calibre might reel in if he were playing in the Toronto market. Give him the best offer you're comfortable with and then try to sell him on the other positives Toronto offers. If he doesn't buy it, at least you tried.

If you're lucky enough to land him, plug those third and fourth line roles with the cheap talent you spent the last 14 months acquiring. You're not going to be a cup contender by year's end, but at least by this point next season we should be in 'round out the lineup' phase.

It isn't overstating things to say that Kovalchuk might be one of the top free agents to ever hit unrestricted free agency. Why not take a run at a guy like that?


Payday loans said...

Wow,nice, one of the best read posts so far.

Anonymous said...

I love watching Kulemin going into the corner against an opponent and watching him knock him down or off the puck. Kuleman can score 25 goals a season and is strong as an ox, with more upside to go in terms of scoring, passing and STRENGTH and he's very fast. Colby Armstrong doesn't compare with Kulemin. Not close.

Now imagine a line of Kulemin, Khadri, Kovalchuk
Kessel, Bozak, Byfuglien

Curt S said...

@ anonymous

I like Kulemin a lot too but Byfuglien? I'd rather see them use Caputi or someone like him in that spot and save the money.

If the Leafs get Kovalchuk then that's probably all they can afford to do of any substance -- but I'm ok with that.

The Muppet said...

Nobody has scored more goals than this guy since 2002/2003 I believe it is?

I also like that he gets his nose dirty.

And God knows Toronto is a big enough stage that he could become one of the games biggest stars here.

And yet, something about going out and getting him scares me a bit. The money? Maybe having that one "superstar" takes away from the whole team concept that's growing here?

Curt S said...

@ muppet

I can understand that reservation but don't you think it's tough to win with a team full of $5M dollar players? Especially when you're spending a lot of money on defensemen and don't have two years worth of first rounders.

I guess I feel like you're either going to have to bite the bullet and take a chance or you're probably going to suck for a few more years.

Anonymous said...

Kulemin, Khadri, Kovalchuk
Kessel, Bozak, Byfuglien

Byfuglien is worth it. We can make it happen. Caputi?? I haven't liked what I've seen so far from him. He can't skate very well and he's not nearly as multi-dimensional as Dustin. Did u see what Byfuglien can do to Pronger, like put him on his ass? And I believe Byfuglien can score 25 goals easily while pounding players into the ice. Ill take him anyday. Reminds me of Andrychuk with a lot more beligerence.

Curt S said...

@ anonymous

I think Byfuglien is the better player, don't get me wrong. My problem is that he's probably going to want two or three times as much money as Caputi makes and I don't think he's THAT much better.

Anonymous said...

@ curt

I get your point about the money. But boy u got to admit these 2 line combinations is enough to strike fear in the NHL. It's making me salivate the more I look at those names. And to think it's realistic, It's doable. And the dynamics of those 2 lines is electric!!

We need to get rid of kaberle, Grabovski and one of either Beuchemin or Komisarek.

Please Burke, make this happen and we will be Stanley Cup contenders. Right now we are playoff bound just with the improved netminding.

Curt S said...

I think Kulemin would be mis-placed on the first line. I'd like to see him on a strong two-way checking line. Stalberg if he develops properly might be a better fit in that spot but in all likelihood we'll have to acquire something external at some point to have a true first line if Kessel is on L2

Anonymous said...


Na. Forget about the labeling. Open your mind. Who cares. Call them both L1. It doesbn't matter whose L1 or L2. Tell them they're not numbered at all and they will have to compete against the other for L1 bragging rights. Then watch them burn up the league. 2 80+ goal lines. I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Get'er done Burke!!!!

Make it happen!!!!

Anonymous said...

You need Kulemin up there with Kovy and Khadri. He's more defensive minded which gives balance to the line. Plus he's also the minesweeper on that line clearing bodies out of the way and digging the puck out of the corners. Sorry but Burkee's on drugs when it comes to Kulemin. His physical presence has many benefits and he is one the strongest in the league period. If u can't see that you're blind. This guy can do it all and he's just a baby.

byfuglien plays the exact same role on the bozak, Kessel Line.

Anonymous said...

Kovalchuk...WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY???????

He's not clutch.

He's not a team player.

He's one dimensional.

He's not a playoff performer.

He's not tough or gritty.

He's not a leader.

He never shows up internationally.

He's done nothing important in his career.

Now explain to me the bloody actual reason why we should sign this guy. Trust me, we don't want him. So he puts up 90 points and gets us into the playoffs. Fine. What then? He disappears when it matters and it's all for naught.

I don't get it. Save the cap space, keep developing and then make a splash in next year's UFA market when there are decent, well-rounded stars to choose from.

Good riddance.

Anonymous said...

kovy imppressed the devils enough to want to keep him.

Curt S said...

@ 'Good Riddance'

Kovalchuk was incredibly clutch in the World Championships a couple of years ago. While I agree that his style of play doesn't translate well to the NHL playoffs, I wouldn't say he 'disappears', I would just say he isn't a PPG player in the playoffs -- which I'm fine with.

There's no disputing that he's a superstar and is playoff record is too small of a sample size for me to condemn him as a chronic underperformer.

Destroyko said...

@Anon Kulemin Lover

Good heavens. This is why Leaf fans have such a bad rap. Nikolai Kulemin will be 24 this season, he is not a "baby". He has scored 67 points in two NHL seasons. He is not a first liner. You can call it what you want but an NHL 1st line goes up against the tough competition every night and Kulemin is not talented enough to do anything but get eaten alive by the Crosbys, Ovechkins, Richardses etc of the Eastern Conference...never mind the West.

And "Khadri" as a 1st liner next season? Really? The kid hasn't played a single NHL game. Let him develop against 2nd-toughs and butter soft minutes until he proves he even belongs in the show, before letting him get raped by Pavel Datsyuk.

Anonymous said...


Then you're blind and stupid. Eaten alive???? by crosby??? Frick off azzhole. Now I know you an idiot. If u were actually a Leaf fan and watched him play then u would know what youre talking about.

Khadri was ready last year.

Destroyko said...

Sorry, you're right. Kulemin has the talent and maturity to go toe-to-toe with the best players in the NHL right now. That's why he's accomplished what they did at the same age, right? Are you actually him, is that why you're posting anonymously?

Kulemin is a good player in his role (checking line with some above-average offensive capability) and in the future perhaps he does have a role to play on a scoring line. To call him a first liner now is setting him up for failure, and the same goes for Kadri (I guess putting it in quotes before wasn't direct enough...his name isn't Khadri, it's Kadri. If you were actually a Leaf fan and watched him play you would know what you're talking about.)

Curt S said...

I think we should be careful with Kadri to start the season next year. I'm confident that he'll be a first line player for most of his career but I don't want to force him into a bad situation either. The last thing you want to see is for him to start the season on the first line, get hammered by Mike Richards and lose confidence. Let's let him learn the speed of the NHL game before we heap that kind of responsibility on him.

Maybe he ends the season on the first line but I hope he doesn't start there.

Leaf.Fan.Gordo said...

I kinda like Kule on the first line actually. Not cuz he'll score like a first liner neccessarily but because he's a good guy on the cycle and can get the puck out of corners for guys that can. Im not sayin he's worth a fortune and is a 'PIMP' (as you guys put it) but he's probably kinda useful in the that role.