Fletcher Looking To Hit A "Home Run", Continue Team Building
Toronto's GM Cliff Fletcher told FAN590 reporter Howard Berger he was pleased with his day one signings but isn't near being done getting this team ready for the start of next year's hockey season.
In a brief phone interview with Berger, Fletcher said the team will be adding a defenseman from Europe who hasn't yet played in the NHL, and also said he is still looking to hit a home run when it comes to finding the team a number one centre.
Fletcher said he will continue to swing for that home run via free agency, or trade.
Clearly some interesting comments from the Silver Fox. No one is real sure what Fletcher means by hitting a home run (although Eklund is reporting the Leafs are looking at Gaborik. Take it for what it's worth.)
There are some other options out there at centre. Former Canucks pivot Brenden Morrison is still available. There are also rumours out there that state the Leafs would be interested in acquiring Patrick Marleau from San Jose.
Marleau is a solid player for sure, but comes with a lofty cap hit, as well as a NTC.
There is also Mats Sundin, who remains out there, leaving more than the Maple Leafs in limbo.
Fletcher confirmed last night that the Leafs offered Sundin a one year deal for $7 million dollars.
Vancouver made big news yesterday by offering Sundin a two year deal worth $20 million dollars.
Let's Get To Know Jeff Finger
Now, I know yesterday the title of an article "Leafs give their fans the finger" was a creative, but somewhat negative title.
Like I said yesterday, it was a light hearted knock on his name. A little fun with words if you will.
Still, I feel for Jeff Finger. I really do.
I think, Cliff Fletcher locked up a real solid defenseman yesterday. Finger is a mobile, hard hitting shutdown defender who loves to get his nose dirty and he is known for being completely willing to stick up for his team.
It's the price tag that is going to make everyone cringe possibly for the next four years.
Still, I have some information here on Jeff Finger I wanted to share with everyone. You see, I want the kid to get off on the right foot.
Sure, he is signed to a big deal, but that isn't his fault. That doesn't make him the bad guy.
Maple Leafs fans have a history of holding players to their contract, and making them out to be the villain.
But surely, take away the large salary, and it appears Finger could become a great shutdown guy for us. Think like a few years back when Toronto was hot after free agent Jay McKee. Maybe Finger will become their Jay McKee (back in his prime of course.)
Anyways, Here is some info on our newest defender.
From Howard Berger's Blog
As for his work in Day 1 of the open market, Fletcher claimed he was happy to sign a "shutdown" defenseman, and a "versatile winger" that can also score. "A lot of people in Toronto are asking me, 'Who the hell is Jeff Finger?' simply because they haven't seen him play," Fletcher scoffed. "But, [former Colorado coach] Joel Quennville told me he was one of the five best defensemen in the Western Conference last year. He played against the best players on every other team. [Leafs' coach] Ron Wilson told me he was always on the ice in San Jose games against Joe Thornton. Same thing with Jarome Iginla in Calgary, or the Sedin twins [Henrik and Daniel] in Vancouver. Quennville said [Finger] was his best defenseman in the last half of the year."
Top five defenseman in the West may be a hell of a stretch, but still, Finger was a valuable guy to Colorado last year. He started the year playing 5 minutes, and by the end was logging a solid 20 minutes a night.
Assets: Plays a steady game from the back end and usually limits his mistakes. Can log plenty of ice time and is a solid team-first player.
Flaws: Has never put up great offensive numbers and probably never will. Isn't a physical player, despite his 6-1, 205-pound frame.
Now I don't know I agree with their flaws assessment saying he isn't physical. Most everywhere else you talk seems to say he plays the body.
Everybody's favourite scouting tool for hockey players it seems, here is some videos of Jeff Finger
So, clearly his fighting needs some work, but it will still be refreshing to see someone willing to tow the line for his teammates next season (along with Mayers.)
So, hopefully this helps soften the blow a little bit. I know right now there is certainly better ways the Leafs could have spent 3.5 million dollars, but in a few years this kid could be a real solid shutdown player for us.