Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fletcher had the right idea. Two of them, actually.

Last week's talk of a potential Ducks/Leafs deal involing Bobby Ryan, Matthieu Schneider and the Leafs #1 pick ended up being a non-story. Of course, that didn't stop the usual suspects from weighing in on what a terrible idea it was.

The pundits were wrong. Shocking, I know.

The big name in the rumor was Ryan, a well-regarded prospect who was the #2 overall selection three years ago. While he's yet to have much impact at the NHL level, he's generally still viewed as a top prospect and potential franchise player.

Should the Leafs be willing to trade a package of picks and prospects for that type of player? Absolutely.

The NHL is a league where you build around superstars. The Leafs don't have any right now (with apologies to Kaberle), and may not until Luke Schenn arrives to save us all. If you can deal for one, you do it and you don't look back. Forget the old joke about trading three quarters for a dollar -- in the NHL, it often makes sense to trade five quarters for a dollar. Quarters are easy to find. Dollars aren't.

Fletcher knows that you can pay all the lip service you want rebuidling slowly and carefully. At some point, you need a superstar to build around. Fletcher knows this so well that he pulled the trigger on two trades to bring exactly that sort of player to the Leafs in his first stint with the team. Those guys only wound up being two of the three best Leafs of this generation.

(Side note: Can anyone imagine what the current Damien Cox would have written about the Gilmour trade? Probably something along the lines of "The Leafs, unwilling to patiently rebuild because draft schmaft dumb fans 1967, today acquired four washed-up old guys and Kent Manderville".)

If Cliff has a chance to land a young (key qualifier) franchise player this time around, he should do it.

Under today's CBA, young superstars occasionally become available on the trade market due to impending free agency or salary cap troubles. When those situations come up, the Leafs should be the first team on the phone looking to work a deal.

Beyond that, the Ducks deal hinged on the inclusion of Scnheider and his inconvenient contract. And that's the second piece of the strategy the Leafs should be pursuing.

The Leafs have plenty of cap room, and more money than they know how to spend. As the US economy gets ready to kick the NHL in the balls this year, the Leafs should be ready and willing to pick up another team's cap castoffs -- for a price. Chemmy already suggested targeting Nikolai Khabibulin, which would be a great fit if Joseph were to wind up on the sidelines.

Not only could that be a sneaky way to pick up some draft picks or marginal prospects, but guys who are washed-up cap crunchers in October have a funny way of becoming attractive trade bait in February.

And since this year is all about the trade deadline, anything that puts an extra arrow in Trader Cliff's quill is worth a shot.

So keep working the phones and staying creative, Cliff. Even if those trade talks with Brian Burke must have been a little awkward.


  1. Totally agree with you (weird, I know). If it went down, it would have been a great deal. We'd have gotten Ryan, and peddled off Schneider someplace else.

    Flether's got the right idea, and that's all that matters.

  2. I just heard Damien and Elliot Friedman discussing this on the Fan.

    Damien reiterated his usual spiel and Elliot came back with a very good point: if you believe (as Fletcher has said) that this year's draft isn't that strong and you believe that Ryan is a better prospect than anyone in this year's draft then you make this deal in a heartbeat.

    I still question whether Ryan is a top caliber prospect. He was number two overall second only to Crosby and he hasn't cracked the lineup in three years? That't fine for a late first rounder or a solid second rounder but for a forward who went second overall?

  3. PPP actually suggested the Khabibulin thing, he just did it by editing one of my posts.

    I guess I'm glad it was a decent idea, so I didn't wake up to "Chemmy has dumb ideas" this morning.

  4. Not that it matters who suggested it because we think with one mind except when posting FTBs.

    Ryan hasn't cracked the squad because of being an offensive player when the spots have been full and because of salary cap issues.

    Earl wrote a good piece on the situation:

  5. Not that it matters who suggested it because we think with one mind except when posting FTBs.

    Especially when posting FTBs.

    I'm still not completely sold on Ryan for the same reasons Chemmy mentions. But if Cliff thinks he's a franchise guy and he's available, then he should be banging down the doors.

    This Cox idea that you don't trade prospects/picks ever, just because, is plain dumb.

  6. One report even said that the Leafs first round pick that would have gone to Anaheim for Ryan/Schneider was top-6 protected. Even more reason to pull the trigger on a deal like this...

  7. If the Leafs had made this deal they'd be in a much better situation than they are now. Cox makes absolutely no sense.

  8. They would have one of the top young stars in the league and could have traded Schneider like Atlanta did and picked up some picks.