Pension Plan Puppets: July 2007

Every Leafs fan has an opinion. Here's mine: We are all Pension Plan Puppets. The Teachers pull the strings and we dance.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Leafs' Logic Strikes Again

What's wrong with this train of thought? When the Leafs have a player like the 28 year old John Pohl (who I like but is unbelievably expendable) why would they think about trading 23 year old Matt Stajan just so that they can sign the 33 year old Mike Peca who is coming off of a major knee injury?

Here's a look at the players that are currently on one-way deals with the Leafs: (Note: Eddie's figure represents the last installment of the buyout)

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The Leafs aren't really that close to the cap because one forward and one defenceman will start the season with the Marlies. What kills me about the article is this BS:
There's only one problem. With more than $48 million (all figures U.S.) committed in salary to 23 players for the 2007-08 season, Toronto has pushed itself as far up to the $50.3 million cap as it would like. Short of dumping a one-way contract into the minors, there is no room in the vault or on the roster for Peca.
These are the Maple Leafs!! They have money to burn! They can sit a couple of million dollars in Ricoh Coliseum without batting an eye. It is the Leafs' easiest way to get around the salary cap.

That does not even bring up the idea that if they have roughly $2M in cap space why do they need to clear any more room? Is Peca going to be making close to what he made last season? He just came off his second major knee/leg injury and was not that effective last season. Yes, he would improve the PK but Blake also contributes greatly to an improved PK and the upgrade in net will play a big part in shoring up a PK unit that went downhill fast after Peca's injury.

My main problem with this deal is that after JFJ has held off trading actual young players (unlike picks who are only theoretically young players) he is now potentially going to let a Toronto drafted player that has improved every season. The marginal benefit gained between a healthy Peca and the Stajan of last season is not enough to justify letting Stajan's potential go.

I cannot wait until we trade Steen in order to sign Lindros!

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The Pre-Season

Opening Night is still a ridiculous two months away and free agency is winding down (quick! someone sign Yashin!) but the pre-season schedule has been released. Sadly, this is becoming the only time that the Leafs will see some teams. This year's schedule has two Red Wings games in addition to the February 9th tilt but if the league continues with its scheduling format pre-season will be the only time that these two rivals will meet for two seasons.

Toronto will also tease Winnipeg with a taste of 'NHL Hockey' with a game on September 19th. Just to rub salt in the wounds they'll be playing the team that flew the coop, the Phoenix Coyotes. Actually, looking at their roster, Winnipeg is probably better off.

These games will all be on LeafsTV so odds are that most fans won't get a good idea of what the Leafs can do until the season starts. Fear not, I'll be watching the games and writing game recaps to let you know who plays with Blake.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

John Ferguson Sr 1938-2007

Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr. lost his father this weekend and my thoughts and prayers go out to him. Reality Check has a wonderful look at Senior's life.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

2007-2008 Schedule

The Leafs' 2007-2008 schedule was released today. The season will be kicked off with the renewal of the friendly neighbourhood rivalry with ottawa which features a home and home series kicking off the festivities. These two games will set the tone for the early part of the season. The defending Stanley Cup Finalists will look to get their season off to a good start after meekly bowing out in the Finals. Who is starting in goal could be a question as Emery still has his arbitration hearing and teams are rumoured to be waiting to see how Ottawa deals with an award.

One year after eliminating the Canadiens from the playoffs the Leafs will once again be able to put the final nail in their season's coffin as they play them twice in the final week of the season including the finale. This season will have the Leafs hosting the Central Division and travelling to the west to take on the Pacific Division teams. The Buds will play 26 Saturday night games most of which will grace Hockey Night in Canada since the CBC likes high ratings. The nights that they choose to show another game at 7pm will feature their lowest ratings of the year.

Highlights of the schedule can be found below.

Battle of Ontario:

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2007 - senators
Thursday, October 4th, 2007 - @ senators
Tuesday, November 6th, 2007 - @ senators
Saturday, November 17th, 2007 - senators
Saturday, February 2nd, 2008 - senators
Monday, February 25th, 2008 - @ senators
Saturday, March 22nd, 2008 - @ senators
Thursday, April 3rd, 2008 - senators

English Canada takes on French Canada:

Saturday, October 6th, 2007 - Canadiens
Saturday, November 3rd, 2007 - @ Canadiens
Tuesday, November 13th, 2007 - Canadiens @
Tuesday, November 27th, 2007 - Canadiens @
Saturday, December 15th, 2007 - @ Canadiens
Thursday, February 7th, 2008 - @ Canadiens
Saturday, March 29th, 2008 - Canadiens
Saturday, April 5th, 2008 - @ Canadiens

Defending Champs:

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 - @ Ducks

Original Six matchup that comes around once in a blue moon:

Saturday, February 9th, 2008 - Red Wings

Looks like someone in the scheduling office listened to the complaints about spreading the games between division rivals out. Except, of course, for the Bruins once again who the Leafs play 5 times between February 16th and March 25th. Great work NHL.

February 9th will also double as Hockey Day in Canada with the Red Wings and Avalanche acting as guests as they take on the Leafs and Canucks respectively while the Oilers and Flames renew the Battle of Alberta and the senators and Canadiens fight each other for the title of 'Fanbase that most hates the Leafs'.

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Thursday, July 05, 2007

Movin' On Up

I hate it when they play that song at the ACC. Aside from the 'Move of the Game' it doesn't make any sense to play the Jefferson's theme song. However, the Leafs have done their best over the past week to shore up their weak spots.

The signing of Jason Blake will help to make the Leafs offence more balanced and more consistent. While the Leafs ended last year as the 8th ranked offence they struggled at times against teams that set up their defensive stall (see: Bruins, Boston) as they generally need many chances to create one goal. Blake is a player that showed that he is capable of turning a single chance into a goal.

Vesa Toskala and Mark Bell were acquired from the San Jose Sharks for the Leafs' first and second rounder in the 2007 draft and a fourth round pick in 2009. Bell is essentially a throw-in so that the Sharks could clear some salary cap space after a disastrous first year for the former 20 goal scorer which included a quick demotion from the top line and a DUI charge. If he can get back to his form then he will be yet another good reclamation project by JFJ.

Toskala is the key to the trade and he was quickly signed to a 2 year $8M extension. The trade I liked because it addressed the Leafs' need to get better in net. Raycroft will benefit from the competition as well as from not having to start 42 games in a row. The extension bothers me a bit because Toskala has not earned it. Who knows how he will deal with the media fishbowl? The best way to look at it is that he is getting paid $9.375M for 3 years and after a great year the extension could look like a piece of brilliant work by JFJ (likely good enough to save his job) but if not then it will be the next GM's problem.

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