The news coming out of Boston today that the Bruins and Vincent Lacavalier (left) had a “good meeting” on Saturday night should make good reading for Maple Leafs fans.
Taking a run at Lacavalier would represent a step back for an organisation which, after years of making knee-jerk free agent signings and trades, finally seems to have realised the value of signing prudent and sensible upgrades without sacrificing critical building blocks or large chunks of cap space.
Lacavalier, who scored a career-low 10 goals last year and hasn’t played a full season since 2009-10, would have provided a degree of leadership and veteran stability but little more, not nearly enough to justify the enormous price tag he would demand.
Dave Bolland (right) on the other hand, who as little as a week ago was burying the Boston Bruins in overtime and lifting the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks, should be a solid addition to a roster in need of some sandpaper since the departure of one man hit-machine Leo Komarov to the KHL. Two straight 37 point seasons is also an excellent return for a secondary scorer and is an addition for more in keeping with GM Dave Nonis patient approach.
Plus, the news from Pierre LeBrun at ESPN that Kris Letang and the Pittburgh Penguins were close to agreeing an eight-year, $58-million dollar extension Sunday may help to convince some that Letang’s brief flirtation with the idea of a trade to the Maple Leafs was simply a bargaining chip.
Penguins GM Ray Shero would have demanded a serious return from Nonis for Letang’s services, almost certainly including the exciting, if still slightly raw Jake Gardiner, probably too high a price for those excited by Gardiner’s future.
The Leafs are in a good position to improve on last year and bury the memory of that monumental meltdown against the Bruins. An upgrade on Tyler Bozak will be foremost in Nonis’s mind, especially if Bozak demands north of $5m a year next season, but his chemistry with Phil Kessel will be a sticking point for any trade talk.
Other than Bozak, the future of Mikael Grabovski will need to be decided, as will seemingly interminable issue confronting the Leafs – where to find a new No.1 centre. There are a few options – Derek Roy and Stephen Weiss to name two – but Lacavalier is not the answer.
Reimer should see Bernier as competition, not a vote of no confidence
Reflecting on the Leafs’ acquisition of Jonathan Bernier, the always-candid James Reimer told the Toronto Sun last week that he was surprised at the trade.
“I was a little surprised when I heard about the deal,” Reimer told the paper on Sunday. “There had been talk about bringing in a veteran. But to bring in someone of a similar age, well, obviously they have their reasons.”
It was a strange thing to say, considering it wasn’t that long ago that he and Ben Scrivens were seen as equals, vying for the number 1 spot and keeping each other on their toes. But Reimer, who said he feels like he’s established himself as a “No. 1 goalie in this League,” appears to think his solid, if occasionally rebound-happy performances last season should have been enough for the Leafs to leave him without serious competition for the year.
Bernier, who spent last year in Jonathan Quick’s shadow, will be at his hungriest next year as he also seeks to establish himself. Reimer, who also said Bernier’s arrival makes him feel “doubted” as a goaltender, should realise that the signing was made to bring the best out of him, rather than undermine him.