Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has traded veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin to the Anaheim Ducks in return for a package that includes forward Joffrey Lupul, defensive prospect Jake Gardiner and a conditional fourth round draft pick in 2013.
For Anaheim, they get a player that they are familiar with: A veteran Defenseman that can step into the lineup and give their team upwards of 25 minutes per game if need be.
Criticized for giving away the puck too often and looking slow on occasion, Beauchemin registered two goals and 12 points through 54 games with the Maple Leafs this season, while posting a respectable minus four rating on a team that has struggled to keep the puck out of the net.
Beauchemin has one year left on his contract, which carries a cap hit of $3,800,000. Anaheim fans remember Beauchemin from his four-year stint with the club from 2005-06 through 2008-09, culminating in a Stanley Cup victory with the Ducks in 2006-07.
Originally drafted in the first round (seventh overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Lupul (who stands 6’1” and weighs in at 206 pounds) has a total of three 20-goal seasons behind him, scoring 28 in 2005-06, 20 in 2007-08 and 25 in 2008-09.
That said, Lupul has struggled with injuries both this season and last, playing in just 49 games, amassing 15 goals and 27 points along the way.
In Gardiner, the Maple Leafs add a tremendous defensive prospect to an already deep defense. Originally drafted in the first round (17th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Gardiner (who stands 6’1” and weighs in at 173 pounds) will likely need to bulk up before he sees any NHL action, but rest assured, he is a highly regarded defenseman with great upside.
A conditional fourth round draft choice in 2013 is icing on the cake for Burke.
For Burke, dealing for another winger still fails to address the Maple Leafs need for a legitimate No. 1 centre, but it does offer his team another player with 20-goal potential.
That said, with a cap hit of $4,250,000 through 2012-13, Lupul now becomes the maple Leafs second highest paid forward, which, given his injury history, is a bit risky.
When you crunch the numbers the difference between Beauchemin’s contract and Lupul’s amounts to just under $5 million, so the risk associated with landing Lupul is acceptable and the payoff could be huge.
It is unclear where Lupul will play or whether or not he will be able to remain healthy. If I were a betting man, I would suggest that he will be asked to assume the Left side on Phil Kessel’s line.
Maybe that will help things to “work out here” for Kessel?
Carl Gunnarsson looks to be the beneficiary of Beauchemin’s ice time. With Keith Aulie (who may get called up very soon) waiting in the weeds, the Leafs look to be fine on the backend in the long-term, pending Burke can ink Luke Schenn (who is a RFA this summer) to a contract extension.
On the surface the trade appears to be a win-win for both clubs. The Maple Leafs get another top-six forward, while Anaheim gets a solid workhorse that will help solidify their backend for a playoff run.
Now if Burke could just find a taker for Mike Komisarek....hmmm????
Until next time,