After the first day of free agency, the Maple Leafs have decided to make a few moves. This is a change of pace from the past few years: Actually making a few signings on the first day, for one, as well as going for more younger unrestricted free agents.
The Leafs have turned the corner, and are trying to change the way they do things.
Todays moves by Fletcher:
1. G—Curtis Joseph—Age: 41; 07-08 stats: GP 9, 3 W, 2 L, 2.55 GAA
After a while out of the NHL, Joseph went and took a Canadian team to the Spengler Cup. He then signed late in the season with the Flames and backed up Kiprusoff. He gave them the experience and piece of mind they would still have a good, steady backup behind their capable starter.
Signed for: One year, $0.7 million.
A good pick up; adds a strong, capable goaltender to try to win games on Toskala's night off. Also adds leadership and experience in the dressing room. It's also a good PR move, which might lead to Joseph moving upstairs in the following season.
2. D—Jeff Finger—Age: 28; 07-08 stats: GP 72, G 8, A 11, P/M +12
Last season, he went from riding the bench to start the season on the Avalanche up to the top-two paring in ice-time by the end of the season. Then, in the postseason, lost his job during the Wild series.
Signed for: Four years, $3.5 million per season.
Virtually unknown to many fans of the NHL, even to many Leafs fans, as he hasn't even played two seasons in the NHL yet. He should be entering the prime of his career at his age, so, in my opinion, there isn't much more room for growth. Then again, he had a fairly solid season in the Rockies and looks to show more improvement by gaining more actual NHL experience. He looks to be a low-pairing D-man—nothing more, nothing less. For an unknown, this looks like a big overpayment that should have been had for half this salary. Hopefully Fletcher has found a diamond in the mountains.
3. LW—Niklas Hagman—Age: 28; 07-08 stats: GP 82, G 27, 14 A, P/M +4
He's been around the NHL, drafted 70th overall in 1999 by Florida. He's grown into an all-around player that can put the puck in the net. He works hard every night and flies up and down the ice with quick speed. Hagman led the Stars in game-winning goals with eight, and added four short-handed goals.
Signed for: Four years, $3 million per season.
This looks like a more solid pickup by Fletcher. Hagman can play on any line, thinks defence and can play a strong offensive game, as well. I've liked Hagman's game the past year or so, and, with more playing time in Toronto, he could improve on his stats.
All in all, the Leafs will look like a totally different team by season's start in October. It looks like Fletcher is not even close to being done this offseason. They've shed quite a bit of the roster, and there could be more to come, with a possible trade in the future. They should be adding a bit more on offense, as well.
It looks again as though the Leafs might have paid a fair bit more then they got; hopefully it's not the sign of old times. So it looks as though Fletcher and the Leafs have turned a leaf; hopefully still not on the same tree, though.
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