After Toronto’s 6-2 loss Tuesday night to Boston, my expert mathematical calculations tell me the Maple Leafs currently have a .000000hahahahahah percent chance of securing a playoff berth.
Frankly, it’s about time they confirmed what most of us have long suspected – namely, that this team, despite employing some high-character players in the dressing room, simply doesn’t have enough talent to do any long-term damage in the NHL.
Now comes Cliff Fletcher’s task of identifying the flotsam and jetsam on the roster, and doing everything he can to jettison as much of it as possible.
In last week’s Metro column, we looked at the potential returns Fletcher might receive in dealing away higher-paid Leafs such as Bryan McCabe, Jason Blake and Pavel Kubina. This time, let’s examine some of Toronto’s other players and determine their value to the organization:
Alexei Ponikarovsky The big winger is like one of those fathers who lives two separate lives with two families for years and years: he disappears for weeks without explanation, and when he does return, you’re so happy to see him that you forget about asking where he’d been. Expendable? Yeah, if only to spare him the indignity of Don Cherry’s intentional butchering of his surname every Saturday night.
Kyle Wellwood And to think, this guy was recently projected as the Leafs’ second-line centre. Wellwood put those notions to rest this season, thanks to lingering injuries and lethargic play. Far be it from me to tell him how to do his job, but perhaps he’d fare a little better if he didn’t use a stick short enough to double as Yoda’s cane.
Mark Bell And to think, this guy was projected to be little more than a throw-in the Leafs had to accept in the deal for Vesa Toskala. Wait, we media dweebs got that one right. Like Andrew Raycroft, Bell is a prime candidate for a contract buyout.
Nik Antropov The man from the land of Borat finally emerged as a regular threat for Toronto this year. He’ll never break Doug Jarvis’ ironman record, but he’s signed on the cheap next season and very likely will remain in Blue and White.
Dominic Moore The last acquisition former GM John Ferguson made was one of his best. Moore has been a speedy, defensively responsible player, and his pending free agency deserves to end with a contract that keeps him in Toronto.
This Column also appears in the Toronto Metro newspaper.
Adam Proteau is The Hockey News’ online columnist and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.
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