Assessing JFJ now

This summer, JFJ had a lot of work to do and decisions to make. He could not afford to sign the FA’s out there for big bucks and long term contracts. So, he did the only thing he could. He took some chances with some big upside and tried to keep the commitments for the future as low as possible.

So, in hindsight, how did he do?

The Good:

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Mogilny – In a cap system they could not afford to pay what the Devils paid… and where is Mogilny now? A lot of people wanted him back. Good on JFJ for not caving.

Roberts, Nieuwendyk. The Leafs miss these guys, no question, but, for the price, at this stage of their careers, given the cap, it was a sound decision to not outbid Florida.

Kaberle – I like the signing. Considering this guy’s talent and consistency and age and ESPECIALLY what other FA defensemen got, and will get, … this is a solid signing. At this stage of their careers, I would rather have Kaberle than Foote or Aucoin or even Rathje or Hatcher… not to say that those guys all bring the same things to the table. It is tough to compare directly, but I like what Toronto got in light of the market.

Ponikarovsky, Kilger – These guys are not superstars but they are effective players of the kind that all teams need and have chipped in some goals. For the price, JFJ did well to hang on to these guys.

Pohl, – Seems like a good aquisition. There is some upside there.

Avoiding over-priced FA’s – I think some of the signings this summer may hurt teams. Some evidence of it already exists… some teams who paid big bucks to lock up veterans in multi-year contracts must be experiencing regrets. JFJ did not fall into this trap. Even his worst mistakes are not long term; that is extremely important.

New scouts – Good; ‘bought time the organization revamped this area.

New medical staff – probably good; although I don’t believe Nolan’s problems were the fault of the Leafs’ old medical staff.

Paul Maurice – Maybe his best move yet, a true quality coach for their young players, and quite likely the next Leaf head coach… if he doesn’t get snapped up by another team first. The Leaf players that have been called up this year have looked poised and there are some clear signs of development going on. The Leafs actually have some decent prospects because of it.

The So-so:

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Allison – Fair. Kind of panned out, unfortunately, he is going to collect all his bonuses, has not been a particularly good 2-way player, definitely is a step behind in today’s NHL, and is a bit of an attitude problem. The worst possible scenario for the Leafs, but he has produced. The Leafs would LOVE to get rid of this guy.

Lindros – Fair. I guess we should have known a serious injury was coming. For the money nd the term, and for the way he played earlier, he was a *good* risk signing.

O’Neill – JFJ does not get a rating of “bad” here because I think everyone in the league would have done that deal. People around the league even felt that Carolina gave the Leafs a gift in order to help out O’Neill. The fact is, he sucks in a way that nobody could have predicted. He is HORRIBLE; maybe the worst Leaf.

Czerkawski – JFJ does not get a rating of bad, because the Leafs were tapped out on the cap and needed scoring. This guy HAS scored, consistently in his career. It was a decent chance to take. Besides, that and maybe more importantly, it is tough to know whether or not to blame JFJ or Quinn for this disaster.

Belfour – JFJ does not get a rating of “bad” here because I don’t think we will ever really know if JFJ’s hands were tied on that decision. I suspect this was not his fault.

The Ugly:

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Khavanov – It seemed like a decent move, a little defensive depth, maybe a #4 guy. I don’t think anyone could have expected he would actually turn into a crappy 5 or 6 D-man, with very little offense even. JFJ should maybe have known this, having seen him in St. Louis.

Belak, Domi – HORRIBLE signings, although Domi was coming off of being perhaps the best Leaf on the ice in the 2004 playoffs. Belak is unforgiveable; Domi is maybe unforgiveable.

Quinn, 2 years – Bad. One year should have been it.

Overall, given what he had to work with, the unknowns about what the new NHL would be like, and considering the organization as a whole. JFJ made a couple blunders, some questionable decisions and some pretty good ones. I have been a little lenient on him and I think that is necessary. He does NOT operate in a bubble and some things are simply out of his control. I am also not looking back at hs first year here!

I would give him a 6 out of 10, which really isn’t too bad given the drastic changes the league, and some specific teams, like the Leafs have had to face.


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