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:

Lyle Richardson:

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.


Adrian Dater:

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.


Pierre Mcquire:

(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.

119 Responses to Leafs paying the price for mediocrity

  1. nordiques100 says:

    looks like the Leafs are after a defenceman from sweden:

    Jonas Frogren

    Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
    1998-99 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 22 0 0 0 2 — — — — —
    2000-01 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 49 3 0 3 10 16 0 0 0 4
    2001-02 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 50 3 6 9 18 10 0 0 0 4
    2002-03 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 50 1 7 8 48 14 0 0 0 16
    2003-04 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 47 5 5 10 38 17 2 0 2 6
    2004-05 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 34 1 0 1 26 15 0 2 2 2
    2005-06 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 46 3 3 6 84 17 1 1 2 6
    2006-07 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 53 4 4 8 40     
    2007-08 Farjestads BK Karlstad SEL 47 0 1 1 38 12 0 1 1 12

    not a scorer but looks to be a similar player to andreas lilja. plays safe game. is 28 years old so has experience. could step in right away. might be a good fit on pair 3 with stralman or kronvall.


  2. Hoondog2 says:

    People also wondered who Bill Berg, and Jamie McCoun were at one time.  For those too young to remember, these are the grinders and muckers that make a team successful, and nobody knows that better than Cliff…….i'll trust they've done their homework on these signings until i see them play..

  3. Nevyn says:

    There is no such thing as a "bad signing for the money" unless it puts you in cap trouble.  And with the cap where it is, the AVERAGE per salary player for a team can be close to 3 million, so one defenseman at this rate won't kill us.

    In both of these signings, we acquired players good enough to play and be part of a successful team, without having to trade any resources away, and without committing long term to someone at the end of his career.

    Is Finger worth 3 million a year? Probably not, but who cares? We won't spend up to the cap this year , and quite probably not next year either.  This contract doesn't prevent us from doing anything we want to be doing.

  4. HABSSTAR says:

    Leafs just picked up Grabovski from the Habs.  He might help a bit in the rebuilding.

  5. mojo19 says:

    That's probably true Nevyn. Interesting way to look at it.

  6. mojo19 says:

    Luke those are basically my lines, except i would rather put Antropov at Centre and Steen on Right wing, and now we can put Grabovski in instead of Moore. Good stuff though buddy. Also i put in Kronvall for White.

  7. Nevyn says:

    Hey, Cliff will do what he does, and he has to answer to Larry, so if Sundin tells the leafs he'll take 7 mil if he gets a no trade, I don't doubt Fletcher will do it.

    I'm with you though.  I don't want the leafs adding anyone of bringing Sundin back.  The leafs should be picking in the top 5 next year.

    Personally, the only way I'd take Sundin back is with no no-trade deal.  Either way, we're drafting lower, but still sucking, but at least with no no trade we can get ourselves a 1st and a good prospect for him.

  8. leafy says:

    Leafs re-sign Moore

    Smart move by the Leafs to re-sign Moore.  He played very well last year.  One of the few bright spots.

  9. leafy says:

    His numbers are impressive at the AHL level and Europe.  Now if only he can perform in the NHL.  Not the biggest guy in the world, but there's no denying he has skill.

  10. leafy says:

    Good points.  I feel the same way.  I'll reserve judgment until I see them play….(although on the surface, some of the signings look suspect).

    Some examples:

    When we signed Moore last year, I said, "here we go again".  But then when he actually played, he looked pretty darn good.

    At the other extreme, the Leafs traded for Khavanov 3 years ago.  As soon as we saw  him play, one could see he was a dog with fleas.

    Point being you have to watch these guys to find out ultimately if they were good pickups.

  11. leafy says:

    Very interesting.  Sometimes these pick-ups turn into gems.

  12. leafy says:

    If that happens, I'll be 98 years old.  Actually I think I'll take that.

  13. leafy says:

    I was under the impression he's going to be released by September.  I could be wrong, I'll have to check that.

  14. leafy says:

    Actually I wouldn't be shocked if Sundin re-signs with the Leafs.  I might be the only one, but I think Sundin actually prefers to play on a non-playoff team, given his health issues.  I'm telling you guys, he's hurting.

    Just love the Finger puns.  I'll bet we're going to see many of them in the papers this year.

  15. mojo19 says:

    Yes, his numbers are good at the AHL level, I was talking with Paul Hendricks tonight as he plays in my mens league (ASHL Oakville Thursday nights) and he said that Grabovski could be like what Berezin was for the Leafs and potentially put up over 30 goals. Maybe not this year, maybe not next year, but at some point. I think its a good pickup.

    Hendricks also said that people should be more optimistic about Finger and that is was Ron Wilson and Al Coates NOT Cliff Fletcher who were pushing really hard to sign this guy. And they come from the Western conference and know him a lot better then we do.

  16. leafy says:

    If he's another Berezin, that's great!  I loved Berezin's game.  Although he didn't have the same pure skill as Alex Mogilny, he had a good shot…..and I love players who shoot the puck.

    For whatever reason, Berezin wasn't the same player after he left Toronto.  But anyway, I hope the Leafs made a steal with Grabovski.

    As for Finger, here's hoping he's another Silvain Lefebvre.  Remember him?  Fletcher stole him from Montreal.  He was Toronto's most reliable D during those 2 great playoff runs in 1993 and 1994.  If Al Coates says he's good, that's gotta mean something.

  17. Nevyn says:

    Berezin isn't the most encouraging comparison.   Is this guy going to have only one offensive move, never pass and never backcheck?

    Berezin had only one good season for the blue and white, and then the rest of the league figured out that he was going to fake going wide around the defenseman, then cut back inside and fire a wrist shot.  Then 37 goals became less than 20.

    I'm hoping this guy can provide some spark without being quite as one dimensional.

  18. leafy says:

    I used to like Berezin's speed because it created havoc even if he didn't score.  But it's true he was good only for a short period.

  19. mojo19 says:

    Berezin wasn't a great player but he definitely provided a ton of speed rushing down the wing and some scoring ability. That's where the compairison comes from I think.

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