Leafs paying the price for mediocrity
Some teams made big splashes on July 1st, while others made tweaks, and some decided to stand pat. The Maple Leafs, however, in a seven hour period summed up everything that is wrong with their organization.
Every july 1 seems to see more massive contracts dealt to mediocre players than the one before it. Over the years of the deal, however, the magnitude of the contracts tend to fade as the salary cap goes up at an alarming rate.
The Leafs however, are the only team capable of making signings so inflated, they still look bad in the later terms of the contracts.
This July 1st was no different.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, led by Cliff Fletcher, aquired defenseman Jeff Finger and forward Niklas Hagman for the bargain price of a combined 6.5 million dollars.
At first glance these deals don’t look so bad, as Finger had a good year defensively and Hagman scored 27 goals. But Jason Blake scored 40 goals one year, and Pavel Kubina won a stanely cup. Obviously there is such thing as a one hit wonder.
We can hope perhaps that both of these players takes a step forwards. If Finger develops into the defensive specialist the Leafs need and Hagman scores 30 goals, then these deals are pretty good.
But how many UFA’s are able to repeat their success with the new franchise? Not many. Briere, Gomez, Drury, Smyth, Kariya, Blake all scored fewer points last season than the year before.
And what if these players were just one hit wonders. Finger couldn’t crack an NHL lineup until last year and Hagman’s career best before last season was 34 points. Thats 6.5 million for a 4th liner and an AHLer.
To those of you who disagree (and I doubt there are many of you), allow me to roll out the quotes:
“Hagman will turn 29 in December and it remains to be seen if he’s a classic late bloomer due for better things or if this past season was a one-off.
For the Leafs and their fans, I sure hope it’s not the latter. “
“At $3.5million over four years it would’ve been more than affordable, nearly doubling Finger’s $475K he earned last season.
But $3.5 million per season? The hell???
Sorry, but that’s crazy money for a guy who only played one full NHL season. I realize Fletcher’s doing like most GMs and paying for potential but that’s far too much for a blueliner of his caliber at this stage of his career. “
“I’m just absolutely amazed, though, that the Maple Leafs gave Jeff Finger four year and $14 million. No wonder that team hasn’t won a Stanley Cup since 1968. Unbelievable. “
“(Niklas kronwall) He makes less than Jeff Finger!“
“Are you kidding me? Thats demented!“
“(Jeff Finger) He’s a great kid, its not his fault!”
The entire NHL can’t understand why the Leafs do what they do. It seems firing the old management has changed abesolutely nothing.