The first couple of hours of free agency were hardly notable for the Toronto Maple Leafs. That’s not exactly new. Though Brian Burke said that the team might be active on July 1st, there’s not a lot of recent history to suggest he would.
Last year, Burke took the hardly-publicized trip to Afghanistan to meet with the troops. His overall summer was very quiet, signing only Tim Connolly and Pascal Dupuis. Both deals at the time seemed like good bets, Dupuis especially since it was signed at the league-minimum. A year prior, he had signed Colby Armstrong to a three year deal, but rectified that mistake with a very savvy signing of Clarke MacArthur.
Two of Burke’s rival Northeastern Division GMs were notably busier in the early stages of free agency, one improving their team via a trade.
Ottawa Senators: The more active team in the Northeast Division. After signing Guillaume Latendresse and Mike Lundin, the Senators dealt Nick Foligno to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Marc Methot. Methot has been a tough minutes guy on Columbus who has been killed in possession in his career.
His situation, injuries aside, is familiar to Mike Lundin who signed a one-year deal. He’s had some injury issues throughout his career, but can play 20 minutes a night when healthy. He plays some pretty tough minutes too, his last 100 games or so facing a Corsi Rel QoC of above .700 and getting about 40% offensive zone starts. His possession numbers aren’t totally demonizing, but he plays a role that nobody else on the Senators has appeared to. Today, the Senators got two guys who have played tough minutes in the past.
As for who the Sens lost out on, they traded away Nick Foligno for Methot, a 15-goal scorer with some size, but played some favourable minutes. I have to think that Ottawa wins this deal on the surface. Ottawa saw three former players sign on July 1: Zenon Konopka and Matt Carkner. Neither are any real loss. Carkner played against some easy competition and is known more as a 100+ PIM guy. Konopka had a role in Tampa Bay and New York in taking the bulk of the team’s defensive face-offs, but in Ottawa that role was primarily given to Zack Smith. No loss there, but look for an expansion of Smith’s role this season.
Finally the major UFA loss, Filip Kuba, Erik Karlsson’s defensive partner, went to Florida. It didn’t sound that Ottawa was ever interested in re-signing him. Kuba is probably not worth the $8M, 2-year deal that the Florida Panthers gave him. Kuba had a 43.4% Corsi rate without Karlsson this season, 52.3% with. Karlsson certainly won’t miss him and Ottawa’s defence certainly looks better today.
Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens looked to alleviate the loss of good locker room and popular guy Brad Staubitz, by signing Colby Armstrong and Brandon Prust. Prust signed to a four-year deal, which is a pretty lengthy term for a player who is limited on offence, is okay on defence, and has historically taken far too many minor penalties.
The Habs also signed former Nashville defenceman… Francis Bouillon. “Cube” has been nothing special according to underlying numbers over the last two seasons, playing soft competition and losing possession battles. He’ll get a one-year deal.
The Canadiens signed the afore-mentioned Armstrong to a one-year deal worth $1M. If he stays healthy, he can maybe be a productive hockey player, but his injury history over the last two years hasn’t been great. If he doesn’t get his health together, the Leafs will be paying him money to play against them.
The Canadiens, contrary to the way I initially heard the report on TSN, “lost out” on a popular dressing room guy. Brad Staubitz, a fourth-line replacement-level player, went to Anaheim. No real loss to the Habs there.
As of 3:24 Sunday afternoon, still no trades or signings by the Toronto Maple Leafs