Written By: Mark “The Hard Hitter” Ritter
Thanks for the memories Jiri Tlusty, we (Leaf fans) hardly knew you!
TSN is reporting, what I had suspected for some time was going to happen (and just one day after I questioned whether or not the Carolina Hurricanes were about to make a deal)—the Toronto Maple Leafs have traded forward Jiri Tlusty. In return, the Leafs get Hurricanes prospect Philippe Paradis.
The move should hardly come as a shock to Tlusty—or Leaf fans for that matter. Tlusty has been very ordinary since the Leafs drafted him in the first round (13th overall) of the 2006 NHL entry draft.
In fact, some would argue that after an optimistic 2008-09 season split between the Leafs and Toronto’s AHL affiliate, Toronto Marlies, Tlusty has regressed to the point that he was no longer a legitimate prospect in the Leafs organization.
Through 19 games with the Marlies, Tlusty registered eight goals and 15 points. His plus/minus rating of -7 tied him for the worst on the team and, by all accounts, Tlusty was not fitting into the Leafs future.
Admittedly, Tlusty may not have been given a fair shake to make the Leafs. That said, Tlusty was overshadowed by several Rookies and prospects at training camp, including the likes of Christian Hanson (who is now with the Leafs), Viktor Stalberg (who played eight games with the Leafs this season), Tyler Bozak and John Mitchell (who has played 22 games with the big club this season).
In 74 career NHL games with the Leafs, Tlusty netted ten goals, added 10 assists and was a plus/minus -14, hardly exemplary NHL totals, but something to build upon nonetheless. In the end, Leafs GM Brian Burke didn’t feel the 22 year old, who is a free agent after this season, was going to fit into the Leafs future plans.
The move serves as the first of what I feel will be a number of housecleaning moves by Burke. Bottom line? If you're not cutting it, you will be gone before long, end of story.
Paradis, a center, was drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, (27th overall). “Hockey’s Future” (the self proclaimed No. 1 on-line prospects resource), gave Paradis a grade of “7.0” and described him as follows:
“A mixture of physical presence and scoring skill, Paradis is an attractive prospect. He possesses a hard shot and has the ability to make room for himself and his teammates on the ice. Paradis isn't a player to back down from a challenge. Already an intriguing medley of grit and ability, if Paradis gets faster and stronger, he could become a dominant force in the QMJHL."
Comparatively, Nazim Khadri was given a grade of 8.0 and Tyler Bozak was given a 7.5. For what it’s worth, it would appear as if Paradis is thought to be a mid-level prospect with plenty of upside, but much to learn as well.
Clearly, Paradis, who stands 6’2” and weighs in at 195 pounds, is a “project”, but given time, he may develop into a solid two-way Center, capable of playing in just about any situation. Paradis has a cannon for a shot, something he demonstrated at the 2009 CHL Top Prospects Game, where he won the hardest shot competition with a jaw dropping blast that clocked in at 95.7 MPH.
Paradis had 19 goals and 31 assists as a member of the Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL) in 2008-09 and, through 26 games in 2009-10, has managed to register eight goals and 19 points. Hardly mind-blowing stats, but the raw talent seems to be there.
Tlusty was doing nothing to suggest he was going to make this Leafs team better and, while I am sure there will be plenty of Leaf fans that will say “Burke gave up on this kid too early”, sometimes you just have to cut bait the way Burke did earlier in the year with former Leafs goaltending prospect, Justin Pogge.
For now, Burke can gloat that he managed to get one of those first round draft picks he shipped out to Boston back, at least in theory. Truth be told, this trade can not be evaluated properly until about 2013; it may turn out to be a steal, it may turn out to be a bust. Either way, at least Burke is trimming the fat and that, in itself, is refreshing.
In case you didn’t know, starting Dec. 5 Gabe Morency (formally of The Score ) will be launching his new website. Louis Pisano, my B/R counterpart, and I will be throwing down our Podcast “Get The Puck Out ” every Saturday from 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM.
The Live Podcast will be broadcast in studio from Toronto featuring some betting analysis, fantasy advice, trivia, team analysis, player updates, and more puck talk than you can imagine.
Be sure to call in and let your opinion be known. Check back with “Ritter’s Rant” on The Bleacher Report for further details and the call-in number. The inaugural show is set for Dec. 12. Don’t miss it, puckheads!
You can catch Morency and “Get The Puck Out” at www.morencysports.com; the site launches Dec. 5.
Until next time,