Sunday, October 26, 2008

Time to pull the trigger, Cliff

The Leafs have a terrible problem right now that most team wish they had.

They have too many NHL defencemen. And somebody needs to do something about it.

It's becoming more apparent every day that Luke Schenn isn't going anywhere. With Schenn, Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina guaranteed a lineup spot every night, that leaves six players fighting for three spots.

If newly heatlhy Jeff Finger is also considered an everyday player (and his contract would hint that he is), that leaves five guys fighting for just two spots: Stralman, Frogren, Van Ryn, Colaiacovo and White.

All five guys have upside. All five can play in the NHL. And none will have a chance to get in any sort of groove if they're shuffling in and out of the lineup every night.

The glut of defencemen also means that Jiri Tlusty had to be sent down. That may have a good move anyway, since Tlusty hasn't done much of anything so far this season. But demoting a prospect is not something a rebuilding team like the Leafs should ever be forced into doing.

Another negative side effect of carrying nine defencemen: it leaves on 12 forwards on the roster. Remember how great it was to see Ron Wilson hold veteran like Jason Blake and Matt Stajan accountable for their bad habits by sending them to the press box? That's history now. Every forward on the roster knows they get to play every night now... and that includes useless fourth-liner Ryan Hollweg.

So enough is enough. It's time to move one of these defenceman. Let's make a deal.

Fletcher told reporters this week that he plans to hold onto his defencemen "until somebody blows us away". In a perfect world, that's the way to go. But the Leafs world is far from perfect right now, and this doesn't feel like the time to be stubborn.

Let's face it, nobody is going to step up with a knock-your-socks-off offer for Ian White. While I'm as big a fan of Colaiacovo as you'll probably find in Leafland, there won't be any GMs looking to sell the farm for the guy. In fact, none of the Leafs five pressbox-warmers are worth much right now.

And let's face it, the price is only going to drop each time they're listed as healthy scratches.

Sure, maybe in a few weeks some team will run into injury trouble on the blueline and Cliff would be able to squeeze them for a fourth-rounder for White instead of a fifth. So be it. That's the chance you take.

Pull the trigger, Cliff. Give one of these kids a chance to resume their career somewhere else. And call up a forward (Tlusty, or somebody else who's earned it) to allow Wilson to keep everyone honest.

And do it soon.


  1. Guess I was thinking the same thing you were, Sean. Good post though.

    Personally I think White (and maybe Cola) are in Mark Recchi land right now. They're scratched, so scouts can't see them, they have some upside but enough negatives to get people to stay away. Their value might literally be zero right now.

    It'll be fun to see this develop though.

  2. hey people,come on the season is only a few games old!everybody is in a rush to change things!what ever happened to being patient?You gotta wait a least half or maybe the whole season to see what you have and what other people need...

  3. Or think outside the bix and move one oof he others.....If Kubina would waive his NTC and they get an offer, go ahead.

    Even Kaberle, as much as I would hate to see him go, I would rather keep him for later anyway.

    If there is an offer for Kubina then off he goes. It would need to be quite the offer though.

  4. Two reasons I wouldn't move Kaberle or Kubina:

    - There's still a (slim) chance that this Leafs team could turn out to be a decent bunch, so trading key veterans right now may not be a good idea.

    - You're going to get much more for either guy at the deadline than you would right now.

    Waiting for Ian White's value to go up doesn't do much since his value is so small to start with. Waiting on Kaberle could have a huge impact.

  5. It's official: Schenn stays