Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
By contrast, the Leafs’ acquisition of Blake came at a relatively modest cost, an average of $4 million per season, and at 33 years of age, the Minnesotan is considerably longer in the tooth than the likes of Briere, Gomez and Drury.
A classic late bloomer, Blake had a career season last year in a contract season, and one always has to be suspicious (see Frank Thomas) of those kinds of efforts.
But Blake’s career numbers suggest that at worst he’ll be a consistent 22-28 goal scorer, which makes him the best scoring winger the Leafs own and nicely replaces the goals that will be lost by the departure of Jeff O’Neill.
Moreover, he’s got speed to burn, very helpful for a team that’s more plodding than quicksilver, he kills penalties effectively and dangerously, something lost when Mike Peca went down last season, and he brings a bit of sandpaper to the table as well.
TSN is speculating in their broadcast that Jason Blake is “very close” to being signed by the Toronto Maple Leafs. More soon.
Update 7:36pm ET
Looking to add some speed and grit, the Toronto Maple Leafs have signed winger Jason Blake to a 5-year deal worth $20 million.
The Minnesota native appeared in all 82 games last season with the New York Islanders, setting career highs in goals (40) and points (69).
According to Leafs Lunch, Chief Pro Scout Craig Button has left the organization to sign on with the Boston Bruins.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
All the gushing about Ryan Smyth or Paul Kariya possibly choosing Toronto as their new nest when bids open at noon today must be factored against whether such players base their decision on Toronto being a viable Stanley Cup contender this season.
Two years out of the playoffs, uncertainty of the general manager’s future and a questionable supporting cast don’t weigh in the Leafs’ favour.
Yet, there is some allure about the Leafs—some might call it a fatal attraction—that is bound to put Toronto in the thick of the pit as the clock ticks towards noon.
From Bruce Garrioch at Sun Media,
RYAN SMYTH: As many as 10 teams—including Dallas, Detroit, Anaheim, San Jose, the New York Rangers, Edmonton, Ottawa and Toronto—are expected to make a pitch for Smyth, who has turned down a four-year, $25-million offer to re-sign with the Islanders. The belief is Smyth wouldn’t mind playing in Toronto, giving the Leafs a good shot at him for possibly $5.5 million per season. [...]
SCOTT GOMEZ: The Rangers are going to go hard after the former member of the archrival Devils…
more… *including rumors about Chris Drury and Daniel Briere.
(note: interesting how players are always supposed to be considering playing for less money if they can go to the Leafs…)
More on the NY Rangers interest in Gomez & Drury, plus Nylander negotiations, from The Journal News,
With the start of free agency at noon, the Rangers are intent on adding the pieces that can propel them toward a serious Cup run next spring. Foremost on that list is ensuring greater depth at center, with the team believed to be targeting Buffalo’s Chris Drury or the Devils’ Scott Gomez.
According to one report, a possibility also exists that the team will target both free-agent centers if its efforts to re-sign their own top-line center, Michael Nylander, fail.
Howard Berger was just on Fan590 radio in Toronto and mentioned an extension is in place for Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala.
The extension cannot be announced until July 1st.
I missed the terms, if anyone gets them, feel free to post…
added 5:22pm, 3 year deal with an option year per Fan590, no $$$ given…
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So if you’re that free agent and you’re considering those dollars, who, exactly are you agreeing to work for?
Ferguson? Peddie? Larry Tanenbaum? Bowman? Muckler? Patrick? Paul Maurice? Carlton the Bear?
At that point, don’t you just move on to the next team that’s interested?
The top-heavy Leafs seem to believe the answer to their problems is adding yet another layer of bureaucracy, something similar to the role in which Wayne Embry fills with the Raptors.
from Alan Adams of Sportsnet,
Kariya is exactly what Mats Sundin needs, a speedster who is all about skill and finesse. It has been years since Sundin could look over to his left wing and see someone who comes closes to matching his skill set. Sundin needs a finisher and Kariya fits the bill.
Kariya isn’t the only ultra-attractive unrestricted free agent available this weekend. There’s also Ryan Smyth and Jason Blake, both of New York Islanders fame, along with Scott Gomez of the New Jersey Devils.
The bidding wars for Smyth and Blake will be fierce, and Gomez isn’t coming north of the U.S.-Canada border unless it is on a road trip.
From Mike Zeisberger at the Toronto Sun,
For the record, Andrew Raycroft did not spend yesterday afternoon chucking blue-and-white darts at a photo of Vesa Toskala.
Nor did he retreat into the woods near his native Belleville and start burning the official flag of Finland, the country Toskala calls home.
On the day the Maple Leafs made a candid statement about the state of their goaltending situation by acquiring Toskala from the San Jose Sharks, most observers figured Raycroft would be oozing with bitterness.
But Raycroft wasn’t about to give his critics the satisfaction of hearing him whine. That wasn’t about to happen.
From Adam Proteau of The Hockey News via Toronto Star,
In dealing for Vesa Toskala Friday, Maple Leafs GM John Ferguson admitted that Andrew Raycroft, his draft-day acquisition at the 2006 entry draft, hasn’t panned out as he had hoped. A natural-born pessimist might fault Ferguson for that, while an optimist might at least give him credit for not stubbornly sticking by his alleged No. 1.
But Ferguson’s insistence on signing Toskala to a contract extension makes no sense whatsoever.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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