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February 27, 2007

Deadline day

I'll confine my comments to what is clearly the most earth-shattering trade of the day, namely, the Leafs' re-reacquisition of Yanic Perreault - a slow, soft, small, 36-year-old faceoff specialist who's unrestricted this summer - in exchange for a serviceable young defenceman and a 2nd round pick.

While I am happy to see that John Ferguson is finally willing to put his glut of young rearguards on the market, I am dismayed to see him expend that glut with absolutely no eye even to the short-term future. This is an absurdly high price to pay for Perreault, and utterly pointless. To recap the year's dealings with the Yotes, that's the aforementioned slow, soft, small, 36-year-old rental, an AHL plug and a 4th rounder for a fine backup goaltender with upside, a top-6 23-year-old d-man and a draft pick higher than any used to select the actual warm bodies involved.

With the Raptors, MLSE has shown itself capable of tolerating bold-but-prudent management. Ferguson is neither of those things, and after a long career of casually defending the guy I hereby officially resign my commission. The Leafs remain on an overall upward trajectory, but JFJ has got to go, and the sooner the better. I'm sure he'll be crushed. (Good job on the Tucker contract, though.)

Oh, and check out Mark Spector's impeccable sportswriter logic here: "If Lowe gets Smyth back as a UFA this summer, this move is genius. If he doesn't, he didn't get enough."

Actually, if you think about it very very carefully, you'll realize that the price the Islanders paid has nothing whatsoever to do with whether the Oilers get Smyth back in the summer. Either Lowe got enough or he didn't.

This country is absolutely gagging for some fresh voices in hockey journalism.

Posted by Chris Selley at February 27, 2007 09:57 PM

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With the Leafs still in the hunt for a playoff spot but unlikely to succeed Ferguson was forced to make a deal to show that the organization hasn't given up on the season. Perrault was the best and cheapest deal out there. Most Leaf fans know him and have probably heard Cherry talking him up in the past. So on the surface it looks like the team has made a significant improvement to help get them into the playoffs.

Posted by: Robert McClelland at February 28, 2007 01:02 AM

Yeah.. Bell and a draft choice for Perreault?

For old time's sake, I wouldn't have minded something like this for Roberts. But looks like the Panthers were probably holding out for a heck of a lot more.

But even then - Bell for Roberts? Realistically, and ignoring the "love" for Gary?

Bell and more for Perreault??

Perreault is NOT going to get the Leafs into the Playoffs, let alone be someone that would have much significance in getting them past round one even if they do make it.

Bell, on the other hand, will continue to have value.

This trade is gonna bite JF in the ass.

Posted by: Ian Scott at February 28, 2007 01:03 AM

The argument that the GM needs to do something to placate the fans is absurd. Even the irrational Leaf fans (most are) understand that the club has acheived precisely nothing for 40 years. And they still buy tickets, jerseys, hats, platinum boxes, you name it.

If there was ever a fan base in the history of sport that could withstand a proper rebuilding process, it's the one right here in Hogtown. In fact, we're basically hungry for it. It's moves like this that make you want to puke. I'm mean what is Perrault going to do? Other than take ice time away from Matt Stajan?

At least the Raptors will make the post-season.

Posted by: Mike at February 28, 2007 08:50 AM

"The argument that the GM needs to do something to placate the fans is absurd."

It sure is. But the only possible conclusion is that Ferguson, or whoever pulls his strings, thinks precisely along those lines. It's the same reason he ditched Ken Klee last year for reasonable value and then traded just about the same to get Luke Richardson.

Posted by: Chris Selley at February 28, 2007 12:20 PM

I think there is one other possibility. JFJ has been told - or believes to be the case - that his days are numbered if the Leafs don't make the playoffs. So, in desparation, he does the insane. Call it Atlanta Thrashers syndrome.

It is all, of course, simply ludicrous. I agree that JFJ must go, but whether his team qualifies for the postseason is irrelevant.

Posted by: Mike at February 28, 2007 01:02 PM

I'm no fan of JFJ or the Leafs, but I hardly see the Perreault-Bell deal as a bad one for the Leafs.

You might say that Bell is top-6 d-man, but he wasn't on the Leafs, and wasn't going to be anytime soon. With McCabe, Kaberle and Kubina unmovable, the Leafs only have three open spots on their blueline - and have cleary decided that their other in-house options are preferable to Bell, both now and in the future. Hell, last week Maurice had Bell skating at forward in the hopes that he might become as useful as Wade Belak. If that's who your career comparable is at age 23, I suspect both your ceiling and your value on the market is pretty low.

As for Perreault, he is indeed slow, 36 and does not bring huge offensive skills to the table, although he is an upgrade on a number of the players the Leafs have been using upfront recently. But he does have one superlative skill - he is the best faceoff man in the league. Having watched the Leafs lose to Montreal Monday night largely because of some important losses in the faceoff circle, he does give the team a large upgrade in a very important (if largely underrated) category.

The deal makes the Leafs a (marginally) better team today, without doing anything to diminish their prospects in the years to come. I can't really fault JFJ for this one.

Posted by: Sean at February 28, 2007 01:25 PM

I don't disagree that the Leafs are marginally better today and that Bell was never going to be more than a useful call-up for the club.

The point is that he is a marketable commodity - as is the second rounder that left with him. Why, for the love of God, wouldn't you trade for youth? The Leafs have a surplus of decent young defencemen. And a deficit of decent young forwards. And zero immediate term prospects for playoff success. So, why wouldn't you trade your suprlus assets and address your deficit? Instead, they've only continued with the 40 year delusion.

Of course, a similar assessment last summer would have led them to spend $20 million on offensive help as opposed to spending $20 million on a #3 defenceman.

Posted by: Mike at February 28, 2007 02:42 PM

One of the peculiar traits common to many Leafs fans is the belief that their young players are marketable commodities. Given Bell's inability to regularly crack the Toronto line-up at age 23 - defencemen mature at a slower rate than players at other positions, but the guy is at least a couple of years removed from being a young kid anymore - what is there to support the idea that he could have fetched anything valuable in terms of a young forward? That he was only able, along with a second rounder, to procure a player of Perreault's stature tells me there was little, if any, interest in him.

Besides, is another middling young forward of limited upside what the Leafs really require? How would that mystery forward be distinguishable from John Pohl, Jeremy Williams, Ben Ondrus, Kris Newbury, and whoever that guy is they got for Klee last year?

Posted by: Sean at February 28, 2007 04:48 PM

Too much analysis for a small trade. None of the players or picks involved are really of much consequence, but it does add a warm top 6 forward body to the Leafs. JFJ's defining trade is the Raycroft deal, and that will make the difference in the playoff strech and with regards to his employment status.

Posted by: Firehead at March 1, 2007 03:31 PM

He should also be judged by his work in the UFA market. And, so far so bad on that front. Lindros, Alison, Kubina for a mint, etc...

Ultimately, though, I think a GM should be most judged by his ability to discover and develop young talent. To be fair, it takes several years to fully assess that aspect of performance.

Posted by: Mike at March 1, 2007 04:31 PM

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