I don't like it.
That isn't to say that I don't like Armstrong - I think he's a serviceable player. But $3M a season? This is exactly what I hoped the Leafs wouldn't do.
Earlier, I spoke of Burke's brilliance in acquiring guys that had NHL level skill but were on low-dollar or entry-level contracts. Plugging lineup holes with guys like these are what allows you to overspend in free agency. Burke sent three of these guys packing for Versteeg's $3M per season - a move that I didn't love, but that I don't hate either.
That said, paying Colby Armstrong that kind of money is simply too much.
By bringing in Armstrong we've set ourselves up as a team that has guys that should be on one of the better third lines in hockey (Kulemin, Armstrong) but that will just as likely have one of the worst second lines. Kulemin will get mis-cast, Grabovski will see too many minutes and perhaps worst of all, we wont be able to afford to take a serious run at the Ilya Kovalchuks of this world.
It will be interesting to see how Burke explains to Kulemin that he isn't worth $3M per when he just gave that deal to Armstrong.
I'll reserve my final judgement on this one until the end of the free agency period and until after I see what happens to Kaberle but I have to say, as optimistic as I typically am, I'm pretty disappointed with how things have gone thus far.
This is a move that makes ZERO sense. Burke haggles with Kulemin (his agent, technically) over his contract as an RFA (which turned out nicely for the Leafs - $2.35 mill/year for a guy who can score 25-30 goals is a great bargain), and then proceeds to over-spend for yet another grinder. How much sandpaper does this lineup actually need? This move and the Mike Brown trade baffle me. It's like Burke keeps Leafs fans' emotions on a yo-yo with his deals. He makes Toskala's and Blake's contracts disappear in the blink of an eye (a wonderful deal which provides Gustvasson with a solid mentor in Giguere) and follows them up with crap like the Armstrong signing. Truly maddening....
I don't despise the Brown deal. I hear what you're saying about 'sandpaper' guys but the truth of the matter is, Orr is our only guy that regularly fights. Brown provides us a second option in that regard so I don't see him as redundant.
I agree with your assessment of the Armstrong deal though. This article was written before the Kulemin signing and if I were Nik, I'd fire my agent. How does Colby Armstrong get $3M per and days later Kulemin only gets 2.35?
It all boils down to too much money being spent on bottom six forwards and not enough spent trying to acquire high end talent.
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