Thursday, July 16, 2009

Budding New Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs have had an active offseason by signing tough guy Colton Orr to a 4 year, $4 Million dollar contract, signing defenceman Francois Beauchemin to a 3 year, $11.4 Million dollar contract, signing Swedish centerman Rickard Wallin to a 1 year contract, resigning speedster Mikhail Grabovski to a 3 year, $8.7 Million dollar contract and trading talented d-man Pavel Kubina to Atlanta for Garnet Exelby.

Brian Burke has slowly started to mold the Toronto Maple Leafs into a team which will eventually compete for the Stanley Cup. The main building block in the foundation seems to be intimidation. Burke has focused on bringing in players that have the ability to play a well balanced game and can hit you through the boards.

Colton Orr played in all 82 games with the Rangers last season and has little fantasy appeal. If your league rewards penalty minutes, Orr may be worth a look in deeper roto leagues as he gather close to 200 last year.

Francois Beauchemin is coming off an injury plagued season last year. Playing in a mere 20 games, he scored 5 points and had 45 shots in Anaheim. In Toronto, Beauchemin will be looked at for leadership as well as his consistency on the blueline. The 29 year old offers minimal fantasy value and may be worth a look in deeper leagues.

Rickard Wallin has spent the last 4 seasons playing in Europe and saw his last NHL game back in the 2003-04 season with Minnesota. The captain of Farjestad, Wallin will offer the Leafs leadership up front and will be given every opportunity to play on the top lines. Wallin is a wildcard at this point. With 45 points in 55 games in the Swedish Elite league, a 60 point campaign may not be out of the question for the unknown Leaf.

Mikhail Grabovski flew onto the scene last season in Toronto. He started out very strong as opposing teams were caught by surprise with his speed and quick shot. Unfortunately for Grabovski, teams quickly learned that his one dimensional play could be slowed by being physical and his stats suffered. With 48 points in 78 games, is a good option as depth guy in all formats. He will get plenty of ice time in Toronto and contributes in all categories.

Garnet Exelby was brought in from Atlanta as a salary dump but offers the Leafs a great young defenceman that can hit hard and is eager to prove he can play at the NHL Level. At this point Exelby is a depth d-man and offers no fantasy value.

Pavel Kubina, had arguably, his best season as a Leaf last year. He maintained a career high in points with 40 while playing in all 82 games. In going to Atlanta, Kubina will continue to offer high reward to fantasy owners. The offensive minded Kubina will help lead a young Thasher defence corps that should be near the top of the league when it comes to defensive points on the powerplay. Another 40 point, 100 PIM season is not out of the question which makes him a must draft on draft day.


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