Hall-bound Leaf Heroes; Burke's Qualified List
The Leafs qualified a number of free agents on Monday, in order to retain their rights with the organization. Luke Schenn, Tyler Bozak, Clarke MacArthur, Matt Lashoff, Luca Caputi, Ben Scrivens and Greg Scott all remain with the club, while Brayden Irwin, Christian Hanson and Fabian Brunnstrom did not receive offers. C-Mac was plucked from the Thrashers organization last year when the club balked at his arbitration award. While he appears to be headed for arbitration once again, it is still possible that an accord can be reached both pre-and post-judgement. His work on the Grabo line makes him an attractive asset, but don't expect Burke to offer a long-term contract for one good season.
Leafs in limbo at this point are Tim Brent, Daryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, Jay Rosehill, Freddy Sjostrom and J.S. Giguere. As unrestricted free agents, the Leafs have no pressing need to contend with negotiations for these unsecured players before Friday, the kickoff of the UFA signing frenzy. While it is unclear if Burke wishes to continue employing those named in the latter category, it appears time has run out for Christian Hanson, the big forward that Burke signed in the spring of 2009. While many believed his pre-season performance warranted a roster spot, Hanson toiled in the juniors all season, with just six games with the big club. While the 6'4” forward showed promise at the AHL level, it appears his development has not impressed the Leafs enough to extend the one-year deal he signed last season.
Fabian Brunnstrom, once believed to be the best European not playing in the NHL went from the dizzying heights of instant notoriety by notching a hatty in his first game with the Dallas Stars to being traded to the Leafs organization for another non-starter by the name of Mikhail Stefanovich. Brunnstrom failed to make an impact with the Marlies, and will likely return to Sweden. Irwin, an undrafted acquisition Burke plucked out of obscurity. While the 6'5” Toronto-born power forward led his U of Vermont club in scoring in 2009-10, his productivity with the Marlies was anything but spectacular. Irwin managed just 15 points in 45 games last season.
Hearty congratulations to Leaf heroes Doug Gilmour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Eddie Belfour for being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame today. With 1414 points in 1474 NHL games, 'The Killer' has earned his place in hockey's hallowed halls. On three occasions, the feisty little centreman scored in excess of 100 points, including a Toronto record of 127 (32 G, 95 A) in 1992. The Stanley Cup champion and Selke recipient also holds the NHL record for back-to-back shorthanded goals, scoring twice within four seconds in 1988-89.
Nieuwendyk, now the GM of the Dallas Stars, won the Stanley Cup three times in his career, with Clagary, Dallas and New Jersey. The Gold medalist (2002) also won the Conn Smythe in 1999, as well as the Calder in 1988. Considered one of the most dominant faceoff men in the history of the game, Nieuwendyk's induction is well-deserved.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Belfour played 18 seasons in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup in Dallas, as well as the William Jennings on three occasions, along with the Calder, and a Vezina to boot. Belfour surpassed Terry Sawchuk on December 19, 2005 for wins with 484. He's currently 3rd overall behind Marty Brodeur and Patrick Roy.
Glaringly absent from this list is three-time Stanley Cup-winning Jack Adams recipient, the late, great Pat Burns, who succumbed to cancer last year. Many felt the revered former Leaf bench boss should have been inducted while he was alive to appreciate the accolade. That he has been passed on again is a sore spot with Leaf fans. It's tough to argue against Burns' achievements as a basis for his inclusion, however not a year passes without an uproar regarding who was left off the list. Let's give the Killer the last word here:
“Does he deserve to be there? Yeah.“We all love him, and we all miss him — and he’ll get there.”