Thoughts with a Friend: A Lack of Placing for Toronto's Rickard Wallin

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Thoughts with a Friend: A Lack of Placing for Toronto's Rickard Wallin
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

While watching the Toronto Maple Leafs game against Boston, my roommate, David West , and I started talking about Rickard Wallin, the player who does not have a role on the Toronto Maple Leafs...at least not anymore.

Rickard Wallin has put up 6 points, only one of them being a goal, in 44 games, which is not enough. Admittedly, Wallin is now a defensive forward, but last season in the Swedish Elite League, he did put up 55 points and 18 goals, which he apparently left in Farjestad.

Wallin, ideally, would be a third line forward putting up relatively low offensive numbers but making up for his lack of production on the defensive end. However, one goal is vastly below any minimal production expected. Therefore we arrived at the conclusion that Wallin should not be in the starting lineup, perhaps up for replacement by agitator Jay Rosehill or Andre Deveaux.

Curious, I brought up the question that perhaps part of getting Wallin to the NHL was a guarantee by Burke that Wallin would see action in a majority of games played in the regular season. David correctly countered that not only would Burke not be the type of general manager to award such a guarantee but that Wallin and his agent contacted Burke while he was in Sweden pursuing Jonas Gustavsson.

Essentially, Wallin and his agent managed to convince Brian Burke this off season that Rickard was ready for another shot at the NHL, apparently they were wrong. 

This incorrect assumption led Wallin to be, for all intents and purposes, demoted to the fourth line. However, Rickard Wallin is not an effective fourth-line player.

A fourth-line player should be a player with a defensive mind set, an agitator, or an energetic player; he should not be afraid to lay the body. Wallin is the exact opposite. He rarely finishes checks with any authority, is not an energetic player and does not fight—or even face wash for that matter. Wallin is however a defensive player, which is allowing him to survive on the 4th line.

Simply, Rickard Wallin in no way embodies the truculence and belligerence that Burke wanted from his team, or even the third line forward Burke hoped he would become. Thankfully for Burke and the Leafs, Wallin is under a one-year deal and will, almost assuredly, not be back with the organization next year.

As for the meantime, the glut of defensive-minded forwards at the bottom of the Leafs lineup continues, Wallin included. And on a one-way contract Wallin may just have to make a home on the fourth line, albeit extremely temporary.

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