Give JFJ a Break. Goalie Musical Chairs. Where are the Caps? Sens No. 1
5 days have passed since the beginning of the most wildest off-season in NHL history. And we fans have not been disappointed. This has been great for the game to see all this movement and get every place excited about hockey again.
Once place that has not been quite that excited and moreso enraged has been Leaf Nation. Some of the League’s best players became available on August 1st but 5 days in the Leafs have pretty much been on the outside looking in. The new cost certainty NHL is quite the different animal than the free spending ways of just a year ago. The Leafs had taken away their biggest trump card over other teams. Now with economic balance, it appeared that the Leafs were caught flat-footed.
The face of the supposed ineptness is John Ferguson Jr. The poor guy has been ripped repeatedly. It often appears that whatever he does is completely wrong. He makes a run for the cup trading youth for vets and he gets raked over the coals for stripping the team of young assets. He stands pat and starts to procur his assets rather than go for broke on veteran talent and he gets blamed for not wanting to win.
His most repeated phrase has been that he has a plan. We do not know what that plan is but quietly, he has done the right thing. You have to give the guy credit for having a plan considering the kind of bosses he has to work with. Things and opinions change by the hour at MLSE it appears. I am sure buyouts were on his mind, but not on the mind of the shareholders who would frown on giving away money for nothing. I am sure that with Belak and Perrott in the fold, there was really no use for Tie Domi to return to Toronto opening a roster spot for a youngster, but Tie’s ties with upper management, specifically Larry Tanenbaum, made his signing a necessity.
JFJ’s hands are tied on many fronts and to do what he has done, bring in Jason Allison for 1 year only on the cheap, possibly bringing in Eric Lindros the same way, and surrounding himself with top end hockey guys in scouting, coaching and management positions, has been admirable under the cir*****stances. The poor guy has had to change philosophies overnight from free spending to rebuilding and it will take some time before we finally see the fruits of his labour. So Leaf Nation should take a step back, look at the big picture and have some patience. Rome was not built overnight and neither will the Maple Leafs.
The free agent signing of Nikolai Khabibulin by the Blackhawks may start a chain reaction of goalie movement in the NHL. There are several teams who have yet to address their goaltending concerns heading into next season. It will be an interesting year for goalies with the new rules and reduced equipment. This group is going to have the biggest adjustment in the new NHL. The teams right now in need of goaltending help are the Wings, the Lightning, the Coyotes, the Canucks, the Pens. There are some interesting goalies who may become available at the right price. Currently there is available the likes of Curtis Joseph, Sean Burke, Chris Osgood and Felix Potvin via free agency. but also available via trade are guys such as Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Biron, and Marc Denis.
The Wings have brought back most of the veteran crew they went with in 2003-04. The likes of Chelios, Yzerman, Shanahan, Lidstrom (if he returns to Sweden) could be done after this season. So the time to win is now and in order to do that, they will need to find a way to shore up their goaltending. Legace is a solid backup, but not the guy who can put them over the edge. An interesting possibility for Detroit would be Jean Sebastien Giguere in Anaheim. at 4 million per, his price tag is high, but it would be hard to write off a former Conn Smythe Trophy winner. The wings know him well getting swept by him a couple of years ago and Mike Bab***** the new Wings coach knows him well also being his former coach in Anaheim. The Ducks need some more scoring and could attempt to pluck a guy like Hendrik Zetterberg away from Detroit. They have a young goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov on the way and could fill Giguere’s spot with a veteran.
In fact, that veteran could be Dan Cloutier. Still without a contract in Vancouver, he could find his way to Anaheim. new GM Brian Burke is a big Cloutier fan and if he could land him he would be pretty happy. In turn the Canucks could find a veteran to hold the fort in net until Alex Auld or top prospect Cory Schnieder can take over the reigns.
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