Sunday, February 15, 2009

I may have made a slight miscalculation on this whole Jason Blake thing

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.


  1. damn! i'd say that i couldn't've said it better myself, but i couldn't even have said it as well...

    those Blake/Ovechkin numbers are staggering. BB should be able to fetch a decent return for #55, if he can hold this pace, which by all indications he can. I can see Minnesota possibly being interested in the Blake/Moore package, oddly, though i hope Moore would resign in T.O.

    - i've already booked March 4th off work. religious holiday -

    anyway, another great blog, as i've come to expect.


  2. And to think, the absurd length on Blake's deal probably allowed a NTC not to be tacked onto the contract.

    JFJ still manages to astound the mind for years to come.

  3. I don't think you were wrong about Blake. Two months ago he was a borderline 3rd liner. Even today he is not tradeable because of that contract. But his play has ensured that he will not be bought out or sent to the minors.

  4. Jason Blake is playing like a man who wants out of town. With the trade deadline around the corner he is showing signs of life. Coincidence? And what about the trade bait getting poked and prodded by Wilson. First Toskala then Antropov. Perhps he can get Cujo going and we'll get something outta him too.
    Great Blog DGB

  5. I love Blake.

    And, Pseudonym, you are wrong. "That contract"? Give me a break. He's paid what he's worth.

  6. Facts are facts....he didnt play to expectation last year or the first half of this year. How much was physical, how much was attitudinal, no idea.

    No idea if Moore is the key, speed with a work humble work ethic. I dont want to lose Moore, I think he represents the best of what the new Leaf culture should be and is becoming.

    Blake had health issues last year, the fact that he is playing like he did in hs year on the Island tells you it wasnt a fluke...the skills are there. I think another team will see it, but will look for the common circumstances that bred it on the Island and this year. If those are a speedy colleague, then the teams have to ask if they have that themselves or if they want to grab Moore as well, it de risks the move but makes the trade pretty darn expensive, draft picks please!

  7. I agree that Blake's play has been phenomenal. The challenge in trading him isn't the amount he earns, it's the length of his contract.

    The eventual decline in Blake's play will occur in sync with the a decline in the overall cap. He's likely too big of a cap hit to trade and the teams that could ordinarily shrug off a buy-out (Detroit, Philly, the Rangers) are already in an economic bind.

    If Burke can trade Blake, he should be considered for GM of the year. Whoever trades for him should be considered for a new award named after JFJ, Waddell and the short-bus they rode to school on.

  8. You know what? I have faced a lot of shit and grief on the streets of Ottawa for wearing my Blake jersey.

    Not these days my friend, people ask for my autograph thinking that I must be a prophet.

    Blake has always been amazing, soft hands, swift skates. I think getting on the right health regime to get back his weight and playing to Wilson's system instead of shitty point shot after point shot to the Torso has helped him get his game back.

    I'll be sad to see Blake traded, it will seem like such a waste now that he is hitting his stride.

  9. Wow. Back ye heathens. Back I say.

    I'm the first to admit I'm happily surprised with the play and production of Jason Blake lately. But time for a reality check.

    He's been padding his stats for the last few weeks. Being in the right place at the right time, combined with confidence and a little hot-streak will do that. Great, about time, that's why we signed him. If he keeps it up, I will humbly retract my pessimism, but comparing his recent production to that of Ovechkin is absurd. Jason Blake has gotten points. He is not a game-breaker, he is not unstoppable, he is not one of the best players in the NHL right now, and his contract (years remaining, people) sucks.

    Not counting the dozens of weeks we were being ripped off previously (see: all of last season and half of this one), I agree the money he's being paid now seems reasonable. But two things follow this statement - i) he will not keep up this level of production (even now, let alone when he's pushing 40), and ii) he doesn't bring anything else to the table. His intangibles are non-existant. Leadership, determination, defensive awareness, grit, hitting... Would you assign Jason Blake an 'A'? He's a one-dimnesional player at BEST, and though I'm glad to see him finally filling that dimension out, the only reason he's getting this praise is because he set the bar so low for so long.

  10. Jason Blake hasn't exactly been one dimensional. He's been a top Penalty Killer for the Leafs for most of his hot stretch also.

    I know that seems odd to say for the worst PK team in the NHL... but it's true.

    He averages 7 minutes and 28 seconds between goals against on the PK.

    Henrik Zetterberg only averages 7 minutes and 5 second between goals against on the PK, and he plays for the DETROIT RED WINGS.

    Blake's been pretty decent all around this year... and yeah I feel weird saying that too.

  11. @Dan...

    So you're saying that my post about always being completely wrong turned out to be completely wrong?

  12. Totally. Which means you were right!

  13. Lest we forget. Blake is overrated and NOT part of any future. Id be more than happy if we unload Blake for a 7th rounder by the end of the month

  14. "Lest we forget. Blake is overrated and NOT part of any future. Id be more than happy if we unload Blake for a 7th rounder by the end of the month"

    Is that you JFJ?