Category Archives: HTR Feature Article
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has said repeatedly he wants to get bigger up front.
He took a step in that direction Saturday.
The Leafs GM pulled the trigger on a significant move after the NHL draft concluded, acquiring left-winger James van Riemsdyk from the Philadelphia Flyers for defenceman Luke Schenn.
Van Riemsdyk, who missed significant time last season with a broken left foot, had 11 goals and 13 assists in 43 games for the Flyers in 2011-12.
Burke says the six-foot-three, 200-pound van Riemsdyk will add a physical element to a lineup that was pushed around far too often last season.
“He will provide speed, size, and finesse to our top two lines and we know that he fits those needs that we have wanted to address for some time,” Burke said in a statement.
Van Riemsdyk shared the Flyers’ team lead with seven goals in 11 playoff games in 2011 after earning career highs in goals (21), points (40) and a plus-15 in 75 games during the regular season.
“To go to a place like Toronto is unbelievably exciting for me,” van Riemsdyk said on a conference call. “Just the tradition they have there, the city, the fans it’s all unbelievable and growing up a big-time Yankees fans, a good analogy for me is that it’s like playing for the New York Yankees of the NHL.”
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The salary’s not the thing for enlightened GMs
By September, Rogers Communications Inc., and BCE Inc., will have closed their purchase of MLSE (the NHL governors put their rubber stamp on the deal this week). Assuming they keep the MLSE board at seven directors, five new ones will join chairman Larry Tanenbaum and Dale Lastman. Give one spot to the successor to now-retired MLSE president Richard Peddie and it would work out that Rogers and BCE would each name two directors.
By that time, if indeed they haven’t already, Tanenbaum and Lastman should be asking themselves and others they respect in the hockey and business worlds what they should do when Burke’s contract enters its final lap in the 2013-14 season. This may seem a tad premature (but not to the many Burke bashers in Leafs Nation) but it is only prudent with five new board colleagues coming in.
Burke, then, needs to make a solid impression with his new bosses this season. Fortunately for him, this does not mean taking a big swing in the usual vain hope (at least where his predecessors were concerned) of hitting a playoff home run. A lot of NHL types agree with former Leafs director of player personnel Rick Dudley, who said as he departed for the Montreal Canadiens that all the Leafs need to finally get on the right track is a reliable, veteran goaltender.
Thus the slow-motion chase for Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks. He is the best goaltender available in a slim market but Canucks GM Mike Gillis is keeping quiet about his asking price. Neither the Leafs nor the Florida Panthers, the only other team with more than a lukewarm interest in Luongo, have been able to get Gillis to say just what he wants. But some progress was reported by Thursday night.
The Blue Jackets have shown much patience in making a Nash trade, turning down offers that weren’t to their liking at the NHL trade deadline in February. GM Scott Howson continues to insist that he’ll wait as long as it takes to get the right return for Nash, even if it means going beyond the start of free agency on July 1, and even if it means Nash remains a Blue Jacket heading into next season.
Can you say elephant gestation?
Howson and Nash’s agent, Joe Resnick, are going to meet this afternoon in Pittsburgh, site of the 2012 NHL Draft. The message from Resnick will be loud and clear: “Trade him!” The message coming back from Howson will be just as succinct: “Not until the deal is right.”
Even if the Blue Jackets agree to a trade with a club on Nash’s preferred list, they have to seek approval ffor the trade rom Nash and Resnick. As of noon on Thursday, that has not happened.
The waters have been muddied in recent days with the revelation that Anaheim is willing to part with forward Bobby Ryan. This does not help Howson’s case at all, as Ryan and Nash are similar players, except that Ryan is younger (25 vs. 28) and cheaper ($5.1 million cap hit through 2014-15 vs. Nash’s $7.8 million through 2017-18). The asking price for Ryan is said to be lower than what the Blue Jackets are seeking for Nash, too.
When another 30-goal scorer hits the market, the demand goes down.
Friday’s first round creates an interesting dynamic, too. Clubs planning to include a first-round draft pick in their offers for Nash — clubs who can’t get the deal done with players and prospects alone — have less than 30 hours now to make it happen. If a deal isn’t done Friday, the chances increase dramatically that the deal won’t get done until after free agency starts, until a club that doesn’t get Zach Parise becomes desperate to land Nash.