Colton Orr, Mike Komisarek, Garnet Exelby &…

Jeopardy answer, three guys who have never eaten in my kitchen!

The post was going to start with how things were pretty tame today, financially speaking until all hell broke out and the dumb money started to flow. All and all it has been a wild free agent frenzy. Contrary to what hockey’s most famous prognosticator predicted, there were far more than 15 moves today. Teams were busy with a capital B. It may not have been the flood of activity that some predicted, but rather a constant dribble and then a huge dinner time rush and it’s been steady all night.

No, I don’t work for Twitter, but I can tell you that it was the tool of choice at the 2nd annual TSM NHL FA pool party. There is nothing out there that can keep you connected with more info in one place.

The day started with the Lightning making a big splash, Ohlund for silly money and term. Have no fear though, once the bolts cowboys go belly up this deal will be someone else’s problem. Word also broke that the Sedins were not in play as they took the Canucks money and ran.

Funny thing about that was that we later learned that Mr. Burke has jumped a plane to meet with the boys in Sweden the minute the clock struck 12:00 over here:

“Burke, you see, flew overnight from Boston to Frankfurt and then on to Stockholm today with bold, ambitious plans to make a face-to-face offer to Henrik and Daniel Sedin today in Sweden but was thwarted in the final minutes before the free agent season opened when the identical Swedish twins signed new five-year deals averaging $6.1 million per season just before noon EST with the Vancouver Canucks.

When Burke’s flight hit the tarmac in Stockholm, he got that bad news, and found that defenceman Mattias Ohlund, another potential free agent target, had signed with Tampa Bay.

Armed with lots of MLSE money and acres of precious salary cap space, Burke targeted the 28-year-old identical twins – Henrik is six minutes older than Daniel – as his No. 1 free agency priority. All signs suggested the Sedins would try free agency, but a last ditch offer by Vancouver GM Mike Gillis on Monday apparently was enough to meet their demands.

The Leafs probably would have been willing to go higher on salary, perhaps as high as $7 million per twin, but the talented brothers clearly wanted to stay on the west coast and opted not to entertain other offers.”

Ouch…all the way there and to walk away with ….

“The Leaf GM, meanwhile, could now use the trip to take another shot at convincing Swedish free agent goalie Jonas Gustavsson, who is at home in Sweden right now, to join the Leafs.

“That is going to be an exercise in persistence,” said Burke, who has made two trips to Europe in the past three months to try and convince Gustavsson to pick the Leafs over the Stars, Avalanche and Sharks.”

Ah yes, when in Rome…..

So no Sedins to help make a quick fix now what?

Well, his first move was signing Colton Orr. Who clearly has the truculence that Burke has spoken of wanting on many occasions. Why do I like this deal? Simple, 4 years, 1 million per. In the grand scheme of things it’s irrelevant. No one will ever say, OH the contract they gave Orr, what an albatross! For what he is, it’s a good deal.

“- Gotta love Brian Burke. His first signing is Colton Orr, giving the fighter a four-year deal worth $4 million. He immediately gives the Leafs the heavyweight Burke needs. Wonder what this does to the market for Chris Neil? It’ll take all of one shift for Orr to become a fan favorite in Toronto.”

That from Craig Custance.(As for Neil, stupid term and money).

Damien who is enjoying strawberries over in London dropped a minor bombshell on twitter in saying that not only had the Leafs signed Orr- but they also had traded (yes, past tense) Pavel Kubina… Talk about Tweet and Beat..

Well it took several hours, but later it was revealed that indeed Kubina was off to Atlanta and the rights to Tim Stapleton to the Atlanta Thrashers, for hard-hitting defenceman Garnet Exelby and youngster Colin Stuart. This move dumped about $2 million off the bud’s books and ads a fairly nasty defenceman to the roster.

Perspective is a wonderful thing. The Atlanta papers headline screamed, Thrashers Acquire Standout Defenceman. Now how many here would say that about Kubina? The Atlanta take on Exelby:

“Exelby, 27, played all six of his NHL seasons with the Thrashers after they selected him in the eighth round of the 1999 draft. The fan-favorite defenseman appeared in 59 games last season with seven assists.
“I’m disappointed to have to trade one of my favorite players in Garnet Exelby,” Waddell said. “He did everything we’ve ever asked of him. … When you make a deal and get a good player, you have to give something good back.”

Then, several minutes later it was announced that Burke dipped a bigger toe into the free agency pool, coming home with Mike Komisarek. It’s a 5 year deal worth 4.5m per year against the cap. According to TSN the deal also”includes a limited no-trade clause. Every September, Komisarek will be asked by Toronto to submit a list of 12 teams he would accept a trade to. This will allow Toronto to control his contract in the event things don’t work out the way both sides anticipate they will.

USA Today’s Kevin Allen listed this as one of the day’s best moves:

“Brian Burke signs Mike Komisarek to be one of the foundation blocks of the “new look” Toronto Maple Leafs. He was born to play for Burke. He’s a big shutdown defender who will fight and use his size and strength.”

A league executive told me tonight that Komisarek is good. This a move that will gets lots of play (hey it’s Toronto!) but Komisarek is a bit overrated. He is better than Finger for sure, but not as good as the hype.

The Globe’s take so far:

“So instead Burke signed hard-hitting rearguard Mike Komisarek and moved out veteran defenceman Pavel Kubina and his team-high salary of $5-million (all currency U.S.) in a trade with the Atlanta Thrashers for rugged blueliner Garnet Exelby.”

This, right now leaves the D as follow:

Kaberle/Komisarek
White/Schenn
Exelby/Finger
Stralman

Word is around tonight that Van Ryn won’t back next season in one way or another, hence his omission.

Where to now? Wel, several guru’s tell me that while the Kessel/ Kaberle talk haven’t formerly restarted they would be stunned if that deal doesn’t get done in the near future. The leafs do need someone to score some goals, I have heard the name Chad LaRose a couple of times and the Canes have said the are ready to move on from him. I still think he will pick up forward toughness to match his d toughness. He has lots of coin to spend and said he will spend it.

Are we better today? No idea, we certainly are a different team for sure. Tougher and still can’t score goals.

Wild day, that ends with the teammate killer not making up his wind and sticking the Sens with a 4 million bonus payout. Gotta love the character of Danny Heatley.

More tomorrow for sure

TSM

follow me on twitter at @yyzsportsmedia

craig custance is here
AJC is here

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CD
CD
July 2, 2009 8:23 am

Although only time will tell for sure, I think Burke had a good day yesterday. Komisarek is a good deal, maybe a little on the high side, but not terribly so. I was worried that it was going to be coming in at 5mil a year, which would have been too much…but 4.5 should work ok. It’s only half a million more than Reghr, for example, but I didn’t hear Kyprios or MacLean complaining about Robin at $4mil (and his 8 pts last year). I think it is a pretty cap friendly signing, i like the money Burke saved with the Atlanta deal, and look forward to more!

ChuChu
ChuChu
July 2, 2009 8:55 am

Komisarek has been among the league leaders in hits and blocked shots for a couple years now. If that is what “overrated” means then please Burke, load up on “overrated” D-men.

CD
CD
July 2, 2009 10:27 am

Chuchu– Totally agree. This guy could be the Captain next year and will be a great mentor for Luke. Sure they need some offense, but I think that this is a good step forward for Burke in forming the team in the way he wants.

Hogan was pretty down on the Kubina-Exelby trade this morning… I am curious as to what people here think of it.

Eggbert
Eggbert
July 2, 2009 10:59 am

I keep hearing how since the Lucic encounter Komisarek has never been the same.While I’m comfortable Lucic won’t be able to take the same liberties with this present Leaf squad,a rematch must be on the calander in order to vaquish those demons.

ChuChu
ChuChu
July 2, 2009 11:54 am

Eggbert do you mean from an injury perspective or in terms of being a mental issue (gunshy)?

If it’s injury related I can’t speak to that – I don’t know enough about it. But as for him being gunshy his stats don’t support that theory.

Jeff
Jeff
July 2, 2009 11:55 am

Eggbert,
Its Watters that makes that claim, but I think that its got more to do with the Zoo that was Montreal then anything else. Watters admitted that he may have been out to lunch when Scott Morrison set him straight on some things.

Eggbert
Eggbert
July 2, 2009 12:11 pm

Jeff,

I heard that claim from many sources,I have yet to hear it from Watters.Exelby also,while he doesn’t back down, had his lunch handed to him by Jamal Meyers last year

Eggbert
Eggbert
July 2, 2009 12:12 pm
Eggbert
Eggbert
July 2, 2009 12:21 pm

When I heard the Leafs were dealing Kubina to Atlanta,I immediatly thought Armstrong,when the TSN crew mentioned his name I got really excited.What a letdown when he wasn’t involved.

LT
LT
July 2, 2009 1:57 pm

Any day in Leafsland that the GM does not trade away a 1st round pick or overpay for an old/declining veteren is a good one. We should be happy Leafs fans…I know Burke talked about more and perhaps more will happen soon – I’m just glad no bonehead moves were made over the past 7 days. We are ahead of the game versus the past few seasons in my opinion.

Eggbert
Eggbert
July 2, 2009 5:18 pm

You do remember what we could have got for Kubina last year?
Atlanta won the deal,they got the best player.

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