There's something you should know about me. When it comes to the Leafs, I'm wrong. A lot.
I've only been blogging for about a year. Which is good thing, because if I'd been around much longer then there would be post in the archives with titles like "Paul Maurice is a perfect hire for the Leafs" and "Rask, Smchask - Why the Raycroft deal is a steal of the Ferguson and the Leafs".
Which brings us to Jason Blake.
It's quite possible that, when it comes to Blake, I was wronger than I've ever been wrong about anything, ever.
Here's a little secret. I keep a short list of posts that I plan on writing, usually with a few notes and sometimes with whole sections pre-written. That way, when things are slow in Leafland or I'm too busy to put any time into something, I can still go find something to post about.
I've had a post on my list all season called "Jason Blake is Playing Great" that I was saving for the weeks leading up to the deadline. It was going to be a long post about how well Blake was playing, how his stats didn't show his true impact, how he was doing all the little things right and making everyone around him better and how with a little bit better luck he'd have fantastic stats.
Then, about an hour after posting that, I was going to do a shorter post with the punch line: that the "Blake is Great" post was a fake, and that Leaf fans should all start writing similar stuff in various places in a co-ordinated effort to fool some dumb fanbase into deciding they wanted him. And then we could be rid of this useless player and his terrible contract. It was worth a shot, right?
Well, let's just say I don't think I'll be writing that post now. Because somehow, some way, in the past two months it's all come true.
Jason Blake is one of the best players in the NHL right now.
I keep reading that last sentence, but my brain can not comprehend it.
But it's true. With a glove tap to article1 over at PPP, here's how Blake compares to Alex Ovechkin in 2009:
Ovechkin - 18GP 13G 9A 22Pts EV
Blake - 19 GP 13G 10A 23Pts +9
I mean... how is this... what could it... gah.
One month ago, I did a mid-season value ranking of all the Leafs, and I had Blake dead last. As in, behind Curtis Joseph and Ryan Holweg. Here's what I wrote:
His play has picked up modestly lately, but he's still a borderline third-liner on any decent team. Given his age and production curve, his contract has to be among the worst in the league.
See? Like I told you, I have the ability to be really, really wrong.
I'd always held out hope that Blake could do enough this year to be worth a trade at the deadline. Not because we'd get anything good in return, but because we could unload his long-term contract and clear up cap space. That was my absolute best possible scenario.
I think we may have gone beyond that. I think it may be time to stop asking if the Leafs can trade Blake, and start wondering how much they can get for him.
At this point, if you're a contender, how do you not want to trade for Jason Blake? Even if this year is a fluke and he falls off a cliff in the off-season, you still get an amazing player for the playoff run. You keep him for another year after that, and then buy him out for a relatively cheap $5.5M spread over four season. That doesn't sound so bad, does it? And that's the worst case.
I'll go one further: if you're a contending team, how do you not want to land Blake and linemate Dominic Moore? The two have been a perfect match, and Moore has 17 points in his past 13 games. We thought Moore was having a career year over the first few months, but it turns out he was just warming up.
Brian Burke should be asking a fortune for speedy center. Which would make it the second time he's put a price on a Moore's head.
(Too soon? OK, moving on.)
Through this entire Blake streak, I've stayed low key. I knew it was all a fluke and he'd go back to being his old, lazy, waste-of-a-roster spot self any day now. But something changed this week. I think it was during the Tampa Bay game, when Blake had a partial breakaway and I was absolutely stunned that he didn't score. I had already counted the goal in my head, because after all, this was the unstoppable Jason Blake.
So I take back all the negative value ratings and "harmless wrist shot" jokes and fake posts that never were. I'm on the bandwagon. I have no idea how this is happening, but Jason Blake is dominating the NHL right now and I'm loving every second of it.
You know, for two more weeks. Right up until Burke trades him at the deadline for a nice little return.
And you can bank on that, because I'm never wrong.