With the first round of the NHL draft well underway, there’s still a few fans out there who are patiently waiting for the next move after yesterday’s flurry of activity out of Philly. With the trades of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, the landscape of the NHL has unquestionably changed. Columbus, after years of struggling in mediocrity, have finally gotten a sidekick for superstar Rick Nash, and can begin to look forward to being competitive. Los Angeles also ended a long wait, as they seemed to have missed the boat on just about every other mega-star that was rumored to be available to them. Well, Anze Kopitar no longer has to carry the load on his own, and the Kings should be in position to make a serious push to oust the Sharks from atop the Pacific Division.
That’s all well and good for the Kings and Jackets, but what does it mean for the Leafs? That’s all we really care about here, right? Well, unless you haven’t been closely following the proceedings leading up to the draft, you’re aware that apparently Brian Burke was in on both Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, but was unable to close a deal. The reports that I’ve seen indicate that the price for Richards would have been Nazem Kadri, Nikolai Kulemin plus a first rounder, while Carter would have cost Kadri/Kulemin and a first. The deal for Carter would have been more tolerable, if Kadri and a first would have gotten it done, but I don’t think it would have, and to attempt to beat the Blue Jackets’ offer of an 8th overall pick plus Jake Voracek (18 goals, 46 points last season) would have only ended up costing the Leafs more than they wanted to pay. While it would have been nice to have Carter or Richards in TO, if the cost truly was as high as it’s being reported, it’s probably a good thing we didn’t make the move. Burke has said time and time again, when it comes to both trade negotiations and salary demands, he refuses to overpay, and yet again he’s stuck to his guns.
After the dust had settled in Philadelphia, Burke went out and got his puck-moving defenseman, dealing the 2012 second-rounder that the Leafs got since Boston won the Stanley Cup for 30-year old John-Michael Liles. Liles is a great addition for the Buds, especially given the current cap situation and his contract. The $4.2 million cap hit will expire after this season, so, if nothing less, the Leafs have garnered the services of a veteran defenseman who needs to prove he’s worth another valuable contract, while gaining a year of cushion time for their puck-moving defensive prospects like Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner and Jesse Blacker. Love the trade, love that we gave up virtually nothing to get him, love that, even if he’s a total bust, he’s gone after next season, and love the fact that the Leafs just grabbed a defenseman who scored 46 points despite playing on a Colorado team that was very disappointing last season.
Check back in a few for draft reactions.