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(July 6) Leaf Acquisitions Deserve Time - Berger

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07-07-2008, 01:04 AM
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LTL
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(July 6) Leaf Acquisitions Deserve Time - Berger

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TORONTO (July 6) – The most common reaction among hockey media to the Maple Leafs’ free agent acquisitions last week – particularly the signing of little-known Colorado defenseman Jeff Finger – is one of derision. It is the judgment of many hockey writers that the Leafs have again overspent for underwhelming talent. Here are some examples of opinion:

LARRY BROOKS, NEW YORK POST: “The Scott Fraser Award for Least Understandable Free Agent Signing of the Year goes to the Maple Leafs for giving Colorado defenseman Jeff Finger four years at $3.5 million per. Shocker, the Leafs winning that one, all right.”

ERIC DUHATSCHEK, GLOBE & MAIL: “Let’s see… $14 million for Jeff Finger; $12 million for Niklas Hagman. [Mats] Sundin’s likely departure. Uncertainty and hard feelings over Bryan McCabe. A second-round draft choice in 2010 for Mikhail Grabovski. Conclusion: The Leafs are overpaying for free agents and mortgaging the future… again. Some things never change.”

STEVE SIMMONS, TORONTO SUN: “It’s now official. The Maple Leafs have given their fans the Finger. Jeff Finger. Ever heard of him? Didn’t think so. When I first saw he signed a four-year, $3.5-million contract, I thought it was $3.5 million for all four years. It’s a lot of money for a late-blooming defenseman who was benched in the playoffs.”

KEVIN PAUL DUPONT, BOSTON GLOBE: “And in a flight of fancy to Bizarro World, Jeff Finger, the 240th pick in the 1999 draft, popped up in Toronto with a four-year deal worth $14 million. Indeed cheap when compared to those other puck luggers. But, raise your hand if you’ve ever heard of the Michigan-raised Finger. Thought so. Heck, Bowie Kuhn once raised a flag over this kind of behavior, preventing Charlie Finley from selling Rollie Fingers and Joe Rudi to the Red Sox, ruling it was not "in the best interests of baseball." To see the Maple Leafs finger Finger as their guy, I mean, what's happening up there? At some point doesn't Gary Bettman step in for the good of the game, before Blue and White Nation uppercuts him and Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment with a class-action suit?"

If you’re a fan of the Leafs, you may choose to dismiss these viewpoints as the work of “typically negative” writers, and perhaps you’re correct. Then again, you may be rationalizing, which is a template of Leafs Nation. Bottom line is, we won’t know exactly how to gauge the Finger-Hagman-Grabovski acquisitions for some time. Ultimately, payment is determined by performance, not prophecy. If, two or three years from now, the Leafs are a strong playoff contender; if their salary cap structure is under control, and the abovementioned trio is actively contributing to the depth of a winning club, then compensation will not be an issue. Conversely, if the Leafs continue to wallow, and the newly acquired skaters are bogging down the cap structure with term and salary [ala the veteran players from last year’s team], the media personnel quoted in this blog will be bang on.
Berger - Hockey Buzz
IMO two full NHL seasons is more then enough to properly assess all of the players acquired this season.

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07-07-2008, 01:16 AM
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Originally Posted by LTL View Post
IMO two full NHL seasons is more then enough to properly assess all of the players acquired this season.
Grabs was a risk that I'm glad to see was taken. He tore up the AHL and I'd like to see what he could do with some top-6 ice time.

I had to admit I was shocked at the term and price given to Finger but I'm not ready to knock the moves made until they have all been made. Maybe we are going to trade Kubina and/or McCabe and all of a sudden our defense doesn't look so rugged anymore.

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07-07-2008, 02:27 AM
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Originally Posted by LTL View Post
IMO two full NHL seasons is more then enough to properly assess all of the players acquired this season.
agreed. however knowing the toronto media, the criticism will begin at the drop of the puck. grabovski can go out and score a hat trick in his first game as a blue and white, and they will still find something at fault with his game.

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07-07-2008, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Datsick13 View Post
Grabs was a risk that I'm glad to see was taken. He tore up the AHL and I'd like to see what he could do with some top-6 ice time.

I had to admit I was shocked at the term and price given to Finger but I'm not ready to knock the moves made until they have all been made. Maybe we are going to trade Kubina and/or McCabe and all of a sudden our defense doesn't look so rugged anymore.
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Originally Posted by Konig View Post
agreed. however knowing the toronto media, the criticism will begin at the drop of the puck. grabovski can go out and score a hat trick in his first game as a blue and white, and they will still find something at fault with his game.
I should have added two full leafs seasons.

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07-07-2008, 06:55 AM
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We won't need two seasons to evaluate some of these moves. For example, we didn't need two full seasons to see that Raycroft couldn't play. Veteran pro Finger especially has to show something early to justify a starting position on the team. I think it will be pretty evident in the first half of the season what direction this Finger signing is going. I'm more optimistic than most of the vocal former Ferguson supporters who are embracing this very easy target as their cause celeb but I'm highly skeptical about the move already especially after hearing Ron Wilson boldface lie about Finger. I think the same thing applies to the Hagman signing, he should deliver steady two way play right off the bat.

I agree the Grabovski acquisition will take longer to evaluate. There could be a substantial learning curve for this player getting used to top 6 NHL minutes and the two way responsibilities that entails. Of course if he plays like Suglobov, his abilities could be dismissed earlier than two seasons, I'm not expecting anything that shockingly bad.


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07-07-2008, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by LeafsIn7 View Post
I'm more optimistic than most of the vocal former Ferguson supporters who are embracing this very easy target as their cause celeb but I'm highly skeptical about the move already especially after hearing Ron Wilson boldface lie about Finger.
What lie would that be?

I think it's improtant to remember that the entire team is adjusting to a new coach, and these guys to new teammates. A little adjustment period should be expected. I don't want to see people panicking if the team struggles a bit with their timing out of the gate.

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07-07-2008, 07:42 AM
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What lie would that be?
That Finger played head to head against Joe Thornton. An Avs' fan pointed out this wasn't true at all. Thinking I was going to prove this wrong, I checked out the ice times for the last 2 meetings between Colorado and San Jose discovering that Finger had in the vicinity of 3 shifts in total against Thornton but instead repeatedly had shifts immediately following Thornton's shifts which often indicates that his coach was actively trying to keep Finger's defensive pairing away from Thornton.

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07-07-2008, 08:33 AM
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Here's a note to all the newbies or complainers about what the Leafs have done this year... read the sports page for entertainment and nothing else. The media is so negative that the Leafs could sign Sakic, Forsberg and Sundin to 1.5 mill a piece for one year and they could each go on to score 50 goals and the media would whine about the fact we gave up roster spots to aging veterans, taking away chances from the young guys. Hell, we could win the Cup and the banner headline would read "About Time!", continuing on to state the fact that the Leafs have wasted the last 41 years.

The media is a joke. They can't even get the weather right.

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07-07-2008, 08:34 AM
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With the long term deals he gave out, the intent was probably that these depth players would be around long enough to support the real players in a couple years.

None of these players are key guys, just filler and the larger contracts just come with being in a undesirable location.

Cliffy is doing the best he can with a bad situation, bad location, and bad management reputation.

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07-07-2008, 09:05 AM
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Originally Posted by ULF_55 View Post
With the long term deals he gave out, the intent was probably that these depth players would be around long enough to support the real players in a couple years.

None of these players are key guys, just filler and the larger contracts just come with being in a undesirable location.

Cliffy is doing the best he can with a bad situation, bad location, and bad management reputation.
I haven't agreed with a lot with your posts in past few weeks but this post is bang on.

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07-07-2008, 09:19 AM
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I don't get Howard. If there is time needed to access the acquisitions then why repeat negative quotes from east coast writers who barely know what is happening with hockey in their own cities?

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07-07-2008, 10:51 AM
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One good thing about theses newly signed players is that none of them have NTC's/NMC's. Worst case scenario, if we want to deal them we probably can.

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07-07-2008, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by ULF_55 View Post
With the long term deals he gave out, the intent was probably that these depth players would be around long enough to support the real players in a couple years.

None of these players are key guys, just filler and the larger contracts just come with being in a undesirable location.

Cliffy is doing the best he can with a bad situation, bad location, and bad management reputation.
For the most part this is the concept behind the stabilizing the team and hoping these players in a few years will be good role players that support the primary players in the future..

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07-07-2008, 10:59 AM
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For the most part this is the concept behind the stabilizing the team and hoping these players in a few years will be good role players that support the primary players in the future..
Mess, I learnt that anything is digestible unless its the contract Mike Commodore got from CLB and Ryder got from Bruins. I must admit I havent seen much of Finger, but I've heard praises from announcers when they were playing Minny and some fans.

With regards to Hagman, I've seen him a bunch of times. He looked really good in the regular season but I was dissapointed in the post season from him. Maybe he just ran out of gas as he played all 82 games. 3 million is an overpayment for about 500,000 IMO, but if thats what it takes to get the player you like then go for it. 500 K wont be getting you anything in this escalating salary cap world.

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07-07-2008, 11:13 AM
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agreed. however knowing the toronto media, the criticism will begin at the drop of the puck. grabovski can go out and score a hat trick in his first game as a blue and white, and they will still find something at fault with his game.
and knowing Berger, he will be one of the first to bite.

I swear to God this guy forgets what he wrote within a day of writing it and is just as likely to say the exact opposite the next day.

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07-07-2008, 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Christopher Lee View Post
and knowing Berger, he will be one of the first to bite.

I swear to God this guy forgets what he wrote within a day of writing it and is just as likely to say the exact opposite the next day.
One of the bunch that said the Leafs had to hire the best GM available and then mocked them when they asked permission to speak with those exact same people.

Another thing that Berger did was report that he got a call from a relative of Wilson's after his first interview with Fletcher saying that Toronto lowballed him with a $600K offer which turned out to be crap. Easy for Howie, he just deletes the article from his blog archive and it never happened!

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07-07-2008, 11:44 AM
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Mess, I learnt that anything is digestible unless its the contract Mike Commodore got from CLB and Ryder got from Bruins. I must admit I havent seen much of Finger, but I've heard praises from announcers when they were playing Minny and some fans.

With regards to Hagman, I've seen him a bunch of times. He looked really good in the regular season but I was dissapointed in the post season from him. Maybe he just ran out of gas as he played all 82 games. 3 million is an overpayment for about 500,000 IMO, but if thats what it takes to get the player you like then go for it. 500 K wont be getting you anything in this escalating salary cap world.
MaddY, I look at like this ... Finger and Hagman are both age 28 and they got $3.5 and $3 mil X 4 year deals..

These players ages today and even when their contracts expire in 4 years are younger then Tucker and McCabe both 33 already today.. Now neither is really designed to replace 1-1 those older players but fill the same roster spot at 3rd line forward and 2nd pairing dman and they do it as younger and cheaper in Cap hit.

That is really what rebuilding is all about to me. Some day hopefully with good drafting and developing and then promoting from within in-house should eliminate the need to go buy a Hagman or Finger depth role player. UFA spending being designed to either add Stars that hit the market or only fill holes in a roster when you simply don't have that resource internally..

The Hagman and Finger signings at their cost reemphasized the need to change the way to do business in a Cap World CBA and also again pointed to the weakness of the current Leafs prospect system failing to supply those level of players presently. Hopefully in the future this will change for the better.

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07-07-2008, 11:55 AM
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The Hagman and Finger signings at their cost reemphasized the need to change the way to do business in a Cap World CBA and also again pointed to the weakness of the current Leafs prospect system failing to supply those level of players presently. Hopefully in the future this will change for the better.
A mix of prospects and veterans is how every team is made up. How is this any different from how any other team operates? Unless you can point to the team that is constructed solely of players drafted and developed by them.

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07-07-2008, 11:58 AM
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***... the media with a reasonable... non-spiteful post?

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07-07-2008, 12:17 PM
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Nothing bothers Leaf fans more than a media figure painting an accurate picture of the club, and Healy did that, without reservation, as an analyst for TSN.
Sigh...oh yeah, Healy's known for painting "accurate" pictures of things...so long as somebody labels his crayons, that is.

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07-07-2008, 01:58 PM
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If Schenn stays in Kelowna this year and plays next year, and whoever we draft next year plays immediately, they will be coming out of their Entry level contracts at the same time as Finger's and Hagman's contracts expire. If these guys make $1.5 million (including bonus) and get a raise to $5 000 000, it's covered. The re-build may take 2 years, but the financial re-structuring and balance of contracts will take 4-5 years. Hell even Pittsburg has yet to reach the financial critical stage, although they are getting close. Once this team is very young and talented, in 4-5 years, all the bigger contracts will have been eaten up

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07-07-2008, 02:34 PM
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Originally Posted by LeafsIn7 View Post
I'm more optimistic than most of the vocal former Ferguson supporters who are embracing this very easy target as their cause celeb but I'm highly skeptical about the move already especially after hearing Ron Wilson boldface lie about Finger.
Do you really think Ron Wilson tried to consciously lie in this era where stats are made readily available to anyone who bothers to check?

At worst, it's a mistake on his part. One can only hope didn't heavily influence the Leafs decision to acquire him.


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07-07-2008, 02:38 PM
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If Schenn stays in Kelowna this year and plays next year, and whoever we draft next year plays immediately, they will be coming out of their Entry level contracts at the same time as Finger's and Hagman's contracts expire. If these guys make $1.5 million (including bonus) and get a raise to $5 000 000, it's covered. The re-build may take 2 years, but the financial re-structuring and balance of contracts will take 4-5 years. Hell even Pittsburg has yet to reach the financial critical stage, although they are getting close. Once this team is very young and talented, in 4-5 years, all the bigger contracts will have been eaten up
Hit the nail on the head dynrehab.

While the "competitive" time line set by Fletch and upper management is 2-3 years, this team and it's youngsters won't hit full swing (as you mentioned) until 4-5 years has passed.

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07-07-2008, 02:48 PM
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A mix of prospects and veterans is how every team is made up. How is this any different from how any other team operates? Unless you can point to the team that is constructed solely of players drafted and developed by them.
What do you classify Kaberle, Antropov and Poni as ?

Are they not in fact former drafted and developed Leafs prospects that are now Leaf veterans today ?

If the Leafs hadn't drafted/developed/promoted them over the years the team today would be much worse off .. If Kaberle was a UFA and Leafs needed to acquire a #1 Dman because they didn't have one, then signing Kaberle at today's prices as a UFA to fill that roster hole would have come with a $ 7+ mil price tag and not $4+ mil one as it does now.

Poni and Ant same story .. Leafs went a bought Niklas Hagman at $3 mil as a UFA and only pay the twin towers a little over $2 mil per season.. Poni and Antropov are both likely to produce more points then Hagman this season.. Its cost Leafs more money for an inferior player because they didn't draft and develop better and were able to promote from with-in rather then go buy to fill a need.

In a Cap World now where $$$$ counts drafting/developing >>> UFA spending.. Leafs are saving nearly $3+ mil a year on Kaberle and at least $1 mil and maybe more even on Poni and Ant towards their Salary cap (using Hagman as a price gauge). If Mike Ryder can get $4 mil then maybe Antropov would have gotten $ 4-5 mil.

My point has nothing to do with vets and prospects on a team its all about having and creating a never ending pool of talent to pull from year after year for your NHL team, by establishing a proper successful feeder system.. Good scouting is continuously tossing prospects into the pool and good development spits out players into the NHL at better salary prices then the UFA market. The better the system is working the better your NHL can be, because its the amount your allowed to spend on players salaries to build your team that determines your teams strength overall. The more you build and the less you need to buy and the stronger you can be. Now the more Cap room you have allows you to take advantage of the UFA market to strike and add that key UFA player usually high end talent that can make a difference.

The reason the Leafs needed to buy Jeff Finger is because they failed to develop their own Jeff Finger..


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07-07-2008, 03:01 PM
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What do you classify Kaberle, Antropov and Poni as ?

Are they not in fact former drafted and developed Leafs prospects that are now Leaf veterans today ?

If the Leafs hadn't drafted/developed/promoted them over the years the team today would be much worse off .. If Kaberle was a UFA and Leafs needed to acquire a #1 Dman because they didn't have one, then signing Kaberle at today's prices as a UFA to fill that roster hole would have come with a $ 7+ mil price tag and not $4+ mil one as it does now.

Poni and Ant same story .. Leafs went a bought Niklas Hagman at $3 mil as a UFA and only pay the twin towers a little over $2 mil per season.. Poni and Antropov are both likely to produce more points then Hagman this season.. Its cost Leafs more money for an inferior player because they didn't draft and develop better and were able to promote from with-in rather then go buy to fill a need.

In a Cap World now where $$$$ counts drafting/developing >>> UFA spending.. Leafs are save nearly $3+ mil a year on Kaberle and at least $1 mil and maybe more even on Poni and Ant towards their Salary cap (using Hagman as a price gauge). If Mike Ryder can get $4 mil then maybe Antropov would have gotten $ 4-5 mil.

My point has nothing to do with vets and prospects on a team its all about having and created a never ending pool of talent to pull from year after year by establishing a proper successful feeder system.. Good scouting is continuously tossing prospects in and good development spits out into the NHL at better salary prices then the UFA market. The better the system in working the better your NHL can be, because its the amount your allowed to spend on players salaries to build you team that determines your teams strength.

The reason the Leafs needed to buy Jeff Finger is because they failed to develop their own Jeff Finger
Agreed.

I wouldn't at all be opposed to moving up in the 1st round of each draft (if we weren't already selecting high) just to draft that one stud so each and every season we have an above average prospect entering the lineup.

If Fletch is able to compile enough draft picks from now until next summer's draft I could easily see a multiple selection in the 1st round of 2009.

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