Leafs’ Failed Actions or Missed Opportunities: My Replies

Cody Franson
Cody Franson (Tom Szczerbowski-US PRESSWIRE)

My article about the Franson-Santorelli-Leipsic-Jokinen trade generated a lot more attention than I thought it would. I thought the point that I was trying to make was fairly salient. I knew it would be a bit controversial but not to the degree that it would generate so much traffic and response. I thought, in that vein, that I would compile the main themes coming from the comments section, aside from the comments that effectively stated that I, and my post, were pure ‘rubbish’. These posts also tended to be riddled with spelling and grammatical errors so I think I can safely ignore them. That said, I may be rubbish, time will tell I suppose. Moving along.

Before I dive in, I’d like to reiterate the main point(s) of my article in a few short sentences. Here they are:

  • Franson (probably) needed to be traded because of the salary cap mess Nonis has made.
  • To trade Franson for a 1st rounder and a yet-to-be-proven-but-promising prospect makes perfect sense.
  • To add Santorelli into the mix was totally illogical (though I can see why Nashville may want him).
  • If you do include Santorelli then get something better than Jokinen.

Below are the issues that, in my opinion, came out the most in the Comments section.

This is a rebuild, so players have to go

Fair. Really and truly though, when has one team ever done a proper re-build? A true re-build would be basically trading every player away for draft picks, prospects, and young up-and-comers. The fact is, that no team every truly rebuilds because trading players away is hard (and harder in a salary cap). What should happen, particularly in the mess the Leafs have, is to trade away the big contracts where they can, and bring younger players in that offer good value for money (exactly the opposite scenario that Toronto is in now).

Jokinen was just a salary dump

Coyotes Center Olli Jokinen
Olli Jokinen

The argument here is that Nashville was just trying to get Jokinen’s salary off their books so the trade was actually Santorelli and Franson for Leipsic and a 1st rounder. First, Nashville retained most of Jokinen’s salary. The Leafs only took about 750K. Second, Santorelli and Franson for a 1st deep first rounder and a prospect would be a terrible trade (i.e. ignoring Jokinen altogether). That said, given Nonis’ deal-making prowess and power imbalance (everyone knows he out there looking for trades) it might be one he would make.

Trading both these guys now was the safe move

I agree with this. It was the safe move. Other safe moves involve re-signing Phaneuf to an absurdly large contract with no-movement clauses. Nonis epitomizes safe moves that are harmful to the team. What should have happened in this instance is Franson should have been traded for the 1st rounder and Leispsic. Leave old man Jokinen out of it and certainly leave Santorelli out of it. If the Preds need a kicker, send them an AHLer who the organization doesn’t need.

Nonis is coming from a position of weakness

Maple Leafs can improve
(Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sportskness

Fully agree. And Burke created some of the mess, butNonis reallydirtied the place up. He improve his situation though by freeing up some salary cap space. If you really need to do that, trade Kessel. I think this is a silly move because you’re going to trade an 8 million dollar top 5 goal scorer and try to get the same in return. It probably won’t happen. The best place for Kessel to go, I think, would be Edmonton and the Leafs could get one or more of their youngsters. The fact is, trading away these low-level players on $1-3 million a year are cowardly moves that don’t actually accomplish anything.

The Leafs got a first round draft pick!!!!!!!

YAY! ZOMG! So what? By almost all projections this will be the last or 2nd last pick http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=750275. Unproven talent is just that. This one doesn’t even have a name attached to it yet. Similar with Leipsic. He’s got good numbers, and all signs are positive, but until he actually produces, I’m weary. Don’t get me wrong, I like bringing in young guys with talent, but the Leafs’ can’t really take this one to the bank yet. I’m always extremely cautiously optimistic about draft picks. In my eyes, I’d be seriously shopping with this draft pick – so long it’s not signing an older player on an inflated contract (obviously).

One last point

To close up, getting rid of Franson, well, sucked. But Nonis, by his own creation, had to do it. It was a safe move. Involving Santorelli was unnecessary, especially for if Jokinen is involved. If Nonis wants to make trades, make some decisive moves. Trade guys like Lupul, Bozak, Kadri, and get something in return.

During this rebuild phase it will be quintessentially important for Nonis to do something that he’s failed at in the past. That is, he needs to identify players that have great salary to output ratios. The salary cap situation is going to force him to take losses on some trades (ie. Clarkson) so if he doesn’t recognize this tenet, Leafs fans are in for many (more) disappointing years.

Note: Thanks for reading. I loved how many comments I got on the last post! There were some really great points made, so comment away and I’ll do my best to reply.

5 thoughts on “Leafs’ Failed Actions or Missed Opportunities: My Replies”

  1. “…but until he actually produces, I’m weary. ”

    I think you meant to write “wary”.

    “These posts also tended to be riddled with spelling and grammatical errors so I think I can safely ignore them.”

    Oops. Nevermind. Could happen to anyone.

  2. Regarding the rebuild, the better examples to consider are the Pens and Hawks. The Pens were bad in the “right” years – bad enough to get Fleury, Crosby and Malkin. The Hawks were bad enough to get Toews and Kane. These five players alone don’t make their respective clubs Stanley Cup contenders as it is extremely important to make smart free agency signings, trades and supplementary draft picks, but it goes without saying that all five have been instrumental in deep playoff runs and championships.

    Of course the Leafs can’t get rid of EVERYONE, but in a very deep draft class such as this year’s, it makes the most sense (to me at least), to get quantity and quality, meaning they need to get as many top-picks as possible and as high as possible. The only way that’s going to happen is by dealing the better-valued players like Kessel, JVR and Kadri. The first two are proven and while the jury is still out on Kadri, he might have the most value before or at the deadline as his cap hit is the easiest to take on between the three of them. If there’s an offer for Kessel that includes a top-ten pick, Nonis would be foolish not to take it.

    Getting rid of Lupul/Clarkson/Phaneuf will be tougher and the Leafs might be forced to keep them for a while or indefinitely. The first two aren’t in high demand at all. Phaneuf can be effective, but his salary and term is pretty steep for a guy who isn’t a first-pairing defender.

    I’d consider Jokinen more of a contract-dump than a salary dump. The Preds aren’t jacked to the cap like some teams are and even by retaining some of his salary, they’re well-managed. They also have a plethora of centremen (and players who CAN play centre) in their lineup – Ribeiro, Fisher, Cullen, Wilson, Forsberg and Gaustad. Jokinen is clearly the least-valuable and desired forward here and therefore completely expendable.

    The pick received from the Franson/Santorelli trade isn’t a slam-dunk by any means, but I’d argue that at the very least, Leafs’ scouting/management has evolved from the stupid “logic” of targeting big, physical, character prospects in the draft like Burke did. There was a lot of speculation as to who the Leafs would pick in last year’s first round and a lot of people assumed the club would go with Ritchie ahead of Nylander based on size and reputation as a physical player. I think the Leafs made the right pick with Nylander. Characteristically, under Burke, he preferred North American-born players.

    Shopping this pick might not be a bad idea. Consider that the Isles, Pens, Preds, Rangers and Blues don’t have first-rounders this draft and they could very well be looking to get it back and might be willing to overpay.

  3. Yep. That’s pretty much right. I really can’t see Nonis having a job for much longer. I can’t believe he has one now. My fear is that the replacement is just one of Shanny’s buddies. I think it’s time the Leafs think outside the box a little bit on who they bring in.

  4. so what you are saying is to get rid of the root of this mess and that is DAVE NONIS. He caused this crap, he perpetuates this crap and he will continue to wallow in crap if he still has decision making powers. Remove him and get a tried and true GM with experience and doesn’t look like a kid who just got caught doing something wrong. HE is responsible for this mess. Save us from HIM.

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