There are two challenges that I have on occassion put out to my readers. The first is to name one positive thing that Bettman has done for the NHL in the past 15 years. The second is, can you point me to an article in which Steve Simmons has anything good to say about the Leafs. Both things are somewhere between very rare to completely non-existent.
Today Steve Simmons has the gaul to suggest that the Philadelphia Flyers are better off than the Leafs. Steve Simmons premise for the arguement is that:
a) The Flyers suck so bad they will get a prime prospect in this June’s draft.
b) The Flyers have sniper Simon Gagne.
c) The Flyers young players like Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Joni Pitkanen are better.
Point a) is pretty much true but I would like to mention the names of Patrick Stefan and Alexandre Daigle both first overall flops. Drafting first by no means nets you a superstar player.
On point b) let me say that almost everyone over rates Simon Gagne. He is a good player and a good guy to have as a first line winger with a play making center but he is not a bonafide franchise player in any way. His offensive skills aren’t really that much better than Darcy Tucker. He’s got a good shot but needs someone to get him the puck.
On point c) Pitkanen is good, but is he better than Kaberle? And Jeff Carter and Mike Richards haven’t proven squat in the NHL and appear to be no better than second line NHLers. In 110 NHL games Carter has just 59 points. In 112 games Richards has 44 points. On the Leafs side, Steen has 66 points in 125 games and Wellwood has 76 points in 117 games. Would I trade Wellwood and Steen for Richards and Carter? Not a chance.
The Leafs also have Stajan who appears to be a very nice defensively sound player with a bit of offensive ability as well. Colaiacovo if he can stay healthy should be a solid defenseman for years to come and Ian White is looking to have some good upside as well.
Salary cap wise,Toronto and Philly are in similar situations. Toronto has ~$24 million commited to 11 players next season (not including Sundin’s option) while the Flyers have about the same committed to 9 players. Now tell me, which group of players would you rather have locked up for $24 million.
Flyers: Gagne, Hatcher, Rathje, Gauthier, Knuble, Zhitnik, Umberger, Carter, Richards
Leafs: McCabe, Kubina, Kaberle, Gill, Raycroft, Kilger, Wellwood, Steen, Ondrus, Pohl, Stajan
My vote would be for the Leafs easily.
So, aside from the potential of a first overall draft pick (and mid-first round draft picks have also been known to net a star player) there really isn’t anything that is better about the Flyers situation than the Leafs. Now, if this was Sidney Crosby’s draft year the story might be different, but there are no Sidney Crosby’s in this years draft. Or even an Alexander Ovechkin.