6 days after the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise signed Jeff Finger to a 4 year contract worth 14 million dollars, the jury is still out on whether he is a quality pickup or an overpaid flash in the pan. Here are some arguments for both sides.
Arguments For Jeff Finger
1. The weak Toronto defensive corps severely needs upgrading. Despite being one of the highest paid defensive corps at approximately $20,275,000 U.S, it ranks as one of the worst defensive units in the NHL. Finger is a defensive defenseman and his contributions go much further than the statsheet. With 4 offensive defensemen in the lineup (Bryan McCabe, Tomas Kaberle, Pavel Kubina, Ian White), Finger could fit in well as a shutdown defender. As of now, Finger is arguably the best defensive defenseman on the team.
2. Finger has a huge amount of potential. He only worked his way into an NHL lineup for good this season, and had improved dramatically from the beginning of the 2007-2008 season onward. If he continues to improve in blue and white, the Maple Leafs could have a Zdeno Chara-like defender for half the price.
Arguments Against Jeff Finger
1. Inexperience. He has only played 94 games at the NHL level, combined with 5 playoff matches. He could be a flash in the pan for all we know. Most people getting that kind of money have usually played at least 200 games in the NHL. Then again, look at some of the RFA's out there getting paid twice as much.
2. The immense limelight in Toronto. Many players who have have done well before heading to Toronto fail under the intense scrutiny. Jason Blake scored 40 goals the year before he came to Toronto and under 20 during his first year as a Leaf. Pavel Kubina was a top-pairing defenseman in Tampa and has became a power-play specialist. Many players have seen a considerable drop in production once in Toronto, and it could happen to Finger.
3. The high salary. No matter how good Finger plays, there are still some out there that will never justify his salary. Also, the high salary could put more pressure on Finger to perform, and Finger just may underperform due to that (See Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker).
Jeff Finger will be a good fit in Toronto. Although $3,500,000 a year is a bit pricey for someone who hasn't even logged his 100th NHL game, he is a much-needed boost to Toronto's blueline. He may struggle in his first year, but his potential is too much for him to fade into oblivion. He will be worth the $3,500,000 that Fletcher spent.