Brian Burke hasn’t made any significant splashes since the draft when he swapped Luke Schenn for James van Riemsdyk, but he continues to re-sign and acquire role players. On Saturday, the Leafs reported the signing of recent Washington Capital, Keith Aucoin. The deal is a one year, two-way contract that amounts to $650, 000 at the NHL level and $350, 000 at the AHL level.
At age 33, Aucoin has played the majority of his career in the American Hockey League. After some impressive seasons, including a 106 point season for the Capitals’ affiliate franchise, the Hershey Bears, he signed with Washington in 2008 and earned brief appearances for the Capitals from 2009. In 2012, Aucoin appeared in 27 regular season games and became a role player for the Capitals in the 2012 playoff campaign.
The problem in Toronto seems to be the crowded center position, now with more potential centers than wingers on the roster. I believe this type of move to aid the ground work for a possible blockbuster deal or multiple deals that may see the likes of Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, and/or Clarke MacArthur shipped out of town. There seems to be a swarm of mediocre talent on the forward end of the Leaf roster. On top of that, players like Connolly and Lombardi combine for about $11 million in salary space. I’ve been vocalizing for weeks that these potential moves may occur and the signing of Aucoin, another 3rd line center, only furthers that possibility.
To be fair, Aucoin also plays the wing. Regardless, I don’t see this move implying that Burke may be closer to done with roster adjustment, but rather a minor move to help lay the foundation for the bigger picture.
If nothing else, at least the Marlies are benefiting from this offseason!