It’s not much fun being a seller on trade deadline day. You always think you could have gotten more for the players that left and in most instances, you’re sad to see those faces leave in the first place.
So while big names like Olli Jokinen, Mark Recchi and Bill Guerin went elsewhere yesterday, Leafs Nation must be content with a bunch of upcoming draft selections and the knowledge that the Toronto Marlies got some depth.
Of course, the most curious Toronto news of the day was the acquisition via waivers of beleaguered Ottawa Senators goalie Martin Gerber, ostensibly brought in to replace starter Vesa Toskala, who has been shut down for the season with a groin injury. The question that must be asked, of course, is why? Curtis Joseph and Justin Pogge may not be great netminders this season, but in case the Leafs brass hasn’t noticed, there’s not a lot of hope of making a playoff run this year.
GM Brian Burke claimed that Gerber would help the Buds win some games and, fair play, that may be true. But the dark side of me would like to point out that losing a bunch of games from here on out and getting closer to the top of the draft board wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
But I digress. The two major deals involving Leafs yesterday saw forwards Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore shipped out for draft picks. Antropov will join the New York Rangers on Broadway and netted the Buds a second round selection and a conditional pick. Moore, one of the team’s best forwards this season, will take his feisty game down the QEW to Buffalo, where the Sabres are life-and-death to make the playoffs and going through a nasty injury bug. The Leafs received another second round pick in return, bringing their total up to two from none.
These were necessary deals and considering the amount of talent in this year’s pool, second-rounders will be valuable. Would it have been nice to see other assets, such as Ian White or Alexei Ponikarovsky, dealt for picks and/or prospects? Yes, but overall it was a muted deadline, so the haul ain’t bad.
And in fact, in one of the stranger deals of the day, Toronto acquired a fourth round pick out of Tampa Bay, bringing the selection haul up to four. The actual deal went as such: Toronto sent minor league defenseman Richard Petiot to the Lightning in exchange for goalie Olaf Kolzig, defensemen Andy Rogers and Jamie Heward and the aforementioned pick. All three Bolts are free agents this summer and none will factor into the Leafs’ plans. Kolzig and Heward, in fact, are both injured long-term and Kolzig will likely retire at season’s end. Rogers will become a Marlie, where he basically fills Petiot’s spot.
So why make the trade? Ah, the answer old as time: money. The Buds organization has tons of it, the Tampa Bay boys not so much. Essentially the deal can be broken down in the simplest of terms: Toronto paid a couple hundred grand to acquire a draft selection. And when your team is so rich that they’re building their own condos, why not?
In another move that will likely only affect the Marlies, the Leafs also snagged depth defenseman Eric Reitz off the waiver wire from the Rangers.
Burke gets a passing grade for his first deadline in Toronto, but it’s not as a Rhodes Scholar.
This article also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his prospect-watch feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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