Monday, June 27, 2011

Moving Money Out: Giving Our Players An Opportunity

For better or worse, Brian Burke is a principled guy.  Some fans have lamented his not giving Phil Kessel an offer sheet rather than trading for him (no guarantee this would have worked anyway).  Others have complained about his self-imposed holiday trade freeze.  Perhaps the biggest dis-service that his principles have done to one of his franchises was the waiving of Ilya Bryzgalov. 

Bryzgalov was one of the league's best backups at the time but was stuck behind Giguere in Anaheim.  Burke sought to trade him but couldn't find a dance partner and eventually waived him in an effort to find a team that could give him the playing time he deserved.  Bryzgalov was picked up by Phoenix and is now the owner of a shiny new $50+ million contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

It doesn't always go this badly.  He did effectively the same thing with Pogge, sending him to Anaheim for what amounts to a ham and cheese sandwich.  Turns out Pogge is worthless, but at least he had a chance to prove he wasn't.

With the salary floor reaching absurd new heights and teams such as Florida and Colorado struggling to meet it, now is a good time for Burke to explore creating an opportunity for some guys who haven't worked out in Toronto.

This isn't pure benevolence.  These guys aren't helping our team and they're costing us money.  Mike Komisarek is the guy we'd ideally like to get away from.  He finished the season playing less than 10 minutes most nights and Ron Wilson clearly doesn't trust him.  Many have opined that Komisarek is simply trying too hard.  Maybe it's the market (though he played well in Toronto), maybe it's the pressure of playing under the eye of the American National Team's head coach and general manager.  Whatever it is, it isn't working.  He's signed at $4.5M through 2013-14 and the term may scare teams more than the number itself.

An easier contract to unload would be the one belonging to Jeff Finger.  First of all, at $3.5M he's more affordable than Komisarek.  Perhaps more importantly, he's a UFA at the end of this season.  Colorado is a natural fit here.  Finger had a solid season in Colorado which is what earned him his contract... either that or Fletcher just got really confused (Sauer).  His expiring deal is also perfect for them.  They have nobody other than Stastny signed past the end of this year which means that Finger coming off the cap will create the space they need to re-sign the Erik Johnsons and Matt Duchenes of this world.

Don't get too excited Leafs fans.  We wont be getting anything meaningful back for these guys.  We wont be including them in a package for Stastny, or Tavares, or Stamkos, or anyone else.  In Komisarek's case, we get him off the books for next season.  With regard to Finger, we get to give the guy a chance to play in the NHL.  This year's salary floor is an opportunity to shed some kinda-bad contracts (sorry Redden and Gomez, your deals are so bad that they don't qualify).

Things like this haven't paid dividends yet as near as I can tell but maybe, just maybe, some day these little Brian Burke Perks will be the difference between landing a free agent or not landing them.

No comments: