Could the Leafs go after Vinny Prospal?

The Leafs also don’t have many other options at the moment. With Trevor Smith already with the big club, the Toronto Marlies are having issues at centre of their own, and only 34-year-old grinder Jerred Smithson has much NHL experience.

The other alternative would be to sign a player like veteran free agent Vinny Prospal, although the Leafs cap situation is incredibly tight and made more difficult by all of the injuries up front.

Placing Bolland on long-term injured reserve will temporarily open some room for GM Dave Nonis to fill out the lineup, but the Leafs would then have to get back under the cap when he’s ready to return.

49 Responses to Could the Leafs go after Vinny Prospal?

  1. hockeyfan8 says:

    What about Joe Colbourne ? Oh ya we gave him away for nothing

    • leafy says:

      The one that really hurt is Alex Steen. I never thought that bum would be a consistent scorer.

      • mapleleafsfan says:

        No kidding. What a year he’s having. We’d have some pretty solid 2 way Centers with him and Bolland.

      • leafs_wallace93 says:

        To think JFJ refused a Kaberle and Steen deal for Pronger to keep Steen. I also hated Steen for being a sissy along the boards when put on wing perhaps he’s another example of how MLSE wasted a natural center by forcing him to the wing. Still think Steen is playing above his head and will come down. But man, imagine we had Pronger all those years…

        • mojo19 says:

          Ron Wilson ruined Steen. He’s playing over his head now, but he always had some sweet moves.

          Don’t discount what Ken Hitchcock has done for Steen as well. Hitch has put Steen in so many defensive situations and has allowed him to thrive on the defensive side of the puck over the last few years, and he’s become a stronger all around player and tougher player because of it.

  2. Gambo says:

    So I think the Leafs have 8 players in the top 30 for giveaways. Kessel, Gunnarsson, Lupul, Ranger, Rielly, Phaneuf, Franson, Kadri. Not in that order necessarily. This definitely needs to improve.

  3. doorman says:

    mojo brought this up and it may well be our best option. He won’t take up much cap space and costs no assets to acquire.

    Giveaways need to improve for sure, along with face offs, clearing the zone, etc. etc.

    • mapleleafsfan says:

      Yea, I get that he’s older, but he still put up solid numbers last year – on pace for ~60 points over a full season. Solid vet. For cheap I wouldn’t mind the deal at all.

      • mojo19 says:

        And Prospal is not quite an iron man, but he’s been completely healthy the last couple years and generally doesn’t miss many games. He would be a great stop-gap.

  4. leafy says:

    Don’t just “go after” him. Do it.

    • reinjosh says:

      Looks like the answer is moving JVR to center, sending Smith down, signing Smithson and bobs your uncle.

      Call me a skeptic but I’m not expecting much from JVR at center. It’s not an easy position and I don’t have much hope for a guy who last played center (and barely) in the NCAA years ago. Who knows, maybe he’s the next guy to move from one position to another and take a giant step, similar to Ovie moving to the RW, Burns moving to the wing, Byfuglien moving to defense (funny enough, I own all three in my keeper league :P, maybe I should get JVR too). If it works, it’s going to take time though. Might kibosh the season but if JVR becomes that big bodied center we’ve been searching for, it might make things a little more bearable

  5. reinjosh says:

    This team needs some damn center depth. It’s been an issue for a long long time now. Nonis didn’t really do much this summer to help, as the addition of Bolland and subtraction of Colborne/Grabovski was basically a sideways step.

    At least adding Gauthier and Verghaghe with their first two picks is a start to building the system. Plus Toninato and Rupert last year. But it’s going to be a bit before we see them at the pro level.

    • LN91 says:

      Carter Verhaege has been dynamite this year, this coming from a BU boy whose seen him a few times. One of those tremendous Josh Leivo risky picks from the Leafs.

      Anyways, although Reinjosh disagrees, JVR might flourish at the C role for a few reasons?

      – One of the best Leaf forwards two-way, he covers alot of ground…One of their better PK killers, and that’s what you need as a center.

      – Size, he has the ideal size to flourish in that role and bully opposing centers in the league, which we cannot get with Bozak. He can also crash the net, and play in the slot which will be interesting:

      – Speed, JVR is surprisingly extremely quick for a big man, and that speed is needed to move up and down the ice to defend and join the rush.

      – Skill set, I think Leaf fans underestimate his skill level because he’s not as flashy as a Kadri…But, I prefer these plays better sometimes:

      I think it will really come down to faceoff %, if he can win about 45-50% of his draws, then it could work.

      • reinjosh says:

        It’s not that I disagree, I see reasons why he could be a good center, but I’m skeptical that all those reasons will combine to make him into center material.

        Speed and size don’t equate to being a center. They are helpful definitely, but they don’t inherently make you a center.

        Similarily, PK skills and two way skills don’t necessarily mean said player can play center. It just means that they are strong defensively. If this were the case, we’d have seen the Leafs try out Kulemin at center before. Also, how many big centers in this league do you see crashing the net? It doesn’t happen with top 2 centers, because they usually carry the puck. That’s the whole idea behind the power forward role, a role JVR plays well. Furthermore, you don’t need to beat up opposing centers to win. Boston proved that.

        And skill set has nothing to do with this, although I appreciate the attempt to label this as a skill bias or player bias type argument. I love JVR, and he’s easily one of our most skilled players.

        I’m just skeptical that a player who has played his entire NHL career on the wing as a power forward, will just be able to switch to a center mindset. It’s just not that simple.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see it happen, and I’ll admit I’m wrong if it does with pleasure, but I’m highly doubtful it does.

        • LN91 says:

          Players have done it and succeeded before…Claude Giroux was primarily drafted as RW before he moved over.

          Patrick Kane, somehow, became a very good C for Chicago a few years back when they ahd numerous injuries down the middle.

          Jamie Benn is another good example. Valteri Filpulla.

          I think alot of negativity comes from the failed experiment of Phil Kessel being center…But, as mentioned above, Kessel lacks alot of those important center qualities.

          If their is one player that has the ability to switch, it probably is JVR and I don’t think it’s impossible to see him do well moving.

          • reinjosh says:

            Kane and Benn are actually great examples of players who were tried out at center…and then moved back. Benn is a good comparable though, and he actually played well in his time at center. Just not as well as he played at his natural position of Left Wing, hence why they elected to have him move back.

            Giroux is a rare exception IMO. Again, I’d love for JVR to be that exception, but I doubt he will.

            We’ll see what happens. I definitely eat the crow if it turns out he’s going to be a good center.

            • blaze says:


              Could JVR play well at center? Well ya JVR is a pretty good hockey player and playing with Kessel I’m sure he will still produce in the role.

              But if he plays better on the wing overall then why force him to play there just to add size.

              It’s a short term solution, and will probably work fine.

  6. doorman says:

    Could you imagine Sundin’s production with the group of wingers we have now?

  7. LN91 says:

    Ideally, I doubt it would go this way…But the Leafs should try:

    Kessel-JVR- (blank)

    Hell, even sign Prospal to play as the LW between JVR and Kessel.

  8. Gambo says:

    This is a really informative article on what Phaneuf is worth. Take the time to read it, especially those of you who believe he’s a 5 million dollar defenseman.

  9. doorman says:

    it was a good read and lots of research put into it. So it now still becomes what is he worth?

  10. leafy says:

    Nonis looked pissed on that third empty net Boston goal.

    Just from that play alone, you can see Phaneuf and Franson had zero left in the gas tank. A symptom of Carlyle mismanagement.

    • LN91 says:

      I know they were exhausted, but you never give up on a play. Not the right personnel out either. Gardiner should have been out there.

      • leafy says:

        At the very least, it’s safe to say Carlyle plays certain players to death. We saw it last year in Game 7 when Phaneuf and Gunnarsson had nothing else left in the final 5 minutes, and we saw a brief glimpse again last night. Either make a damn trade, or spread out the ice time.

        • LN91 says:

          Phaneuf only played 24 minutes last night, averaging 24 minutes for the season, making him 24th in the league in TOI/G for D-Men.

          It’s not like it’s Ryan Suter…Whose playing 30 minutes a night for Minnesota. Maybe Phaneuf is not conditioned enought?

          • mojo19 says:

            Phaneuf is definitely not conditioned enough.

            I will start by saying that Dion has played the best hockey he’s ever played as a Leafs so far this season, overall. But some things that bother me about him is that he falls so easily. I’ve never seen a big man like that who just gets pushed over so easily all the time.

            He’s not tough in our crease either.

            I think he’s top heavy, if I had to make an educated guess. I think he has huge biceps and chest but small legs because he’s gassed late in games, gets knocked over with ease, and isn’t nearly as strong as he looks like he should be. Just a theory of my own, but who knows.

          • leafy says:

            Do you guys get the feeling Phaneuf is playing his best hockey as a Maple Leaf this year while in the last year of his contract, and that he’ll then be average for years to come after he resigns?

  11. doorman says:

    I am not saying Phaneuf, could not be “top heavy”, but guys who can throw explosive checks like that have to have strong legs. That’s where the power to explode or launch comes from.

    The biggest problem with Dion, is his raw talent will always leave you wanting more. Even before this season, he was not as bad as some claim. He is a top paring dman, more of a 1B, but still the kinda guy you need or want on your team. It boils down to this, if you want a top pairing Dman in his prime, then pay him, if not then don’t.

    • mojo19 says:

      Dion doesn’t have so much raw talent. He handles the puck like a chump. Who has the better hands – Fraser, Phaneuf, or Ranger? The answer is Paul Ranger, but it really doesn’t matter.

      Dion is a big beast, and he does have strength, but I don’t think he does have the strongest legs. I could be wrong, but it would explain a few things.

  12. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    To me, the thing with re-signing Dion is not about signing him “in” his prime it’s about paying him big money “past” his prime. Dion’s prime to me is about a 3-4 year window and then I expect a decline in play. He has trouble handling over 23-24 mins a night as it is…it’s the 5-7 years from now that scares me most if we give him $7 mil a season for 7 years. The last 2-3 years of that contract could see us paying $7mil a season for a guy that can only play 20 mins a night.
    The funny thing is, Dion’s point production is down this year, yet everyone still seems to agree he is playing his best hockey. It was never about whether he put up points consistently for me, it was the inconsistencies in his game that bothered me most when you are paying a guy $6.5 mil a season. Franson puts up more points, but I wouldn’t give him $6.5 mil. For what Franson brings, $4mil per will be a fair price. Short term Dion (3-4 years) I could live with $6.5-$6.75 per if he can play this consistent and chip in some points. (6-7 years) needs to be in the $5.5-$5.75 range tops.
    As for the article that was being discussed, yes it was a good read and well thought out. I get the point, but most of those comparisons are not really comparable to Dion going forward. McCabe, Jovo, Wienewski, Redden, Enstrom? Really? I know guys like Keith, Piet’s, Seabrook, Bieksa etc were signed younger and as RFA’s, but what they and others get paid is still relevant to what Dion will get. He also excludes anyone under $5.5 per. And what is the point of comparing contracts of players who are not even in the league anymore? How is that relevant to today? Also, Dion is not changing teams as a UFA, he is re-signing before he gets to July 1st, and in those cases, normally players take less to stay with their current team. It was a good read, but far from proves the Leafs should give Dion over $7mil for 7 years.imo

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