Jul 7, 2010, 8:32 PM EDT
The Toronto Maple Leafs off-season has been a relatively quiet one. They weren’t able to do much at the NHL draft, they haven’t found a home for Tomas Kaberle and their one free agent signing of note was getting gritty forward Colby Armstrong for three years and $9 million. The Leafs have a bit of a crowded situation along their blueline with Kaberle and the rather overpaid and often-scratched Jeff Finger still in the fold. The Leafs added to that mix this evening by signing former Red Wings defenseman Brett Lebda to a two-year deal.
Lebda, 28, appeared in 62 playoff games for the Detroit Red Wings over the past five postseasons. He dressed for 19 and 23 playoff games in 2008 and 2009, respectively, as the Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Final in both seasons. During Detroit’s successful run to the Stanley Cup Championship in 2008, Lebda played in 19 playoff games and averaged 12:33 of ice time.
It was wise of the Maple Leafs to highlight Lebda’s playoff experience with the Red Wings because at least that makes things look good. The reality of things is that Lebda is, at best, a bottom-pair defenseman and one that doesn’t have a significant offensive game nor a physical presence. So much for truculence. About the only thing truculent about Lebda signing on with Toronto is his contract. Leafs fans might want to take a moment after reading these details from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun via Twitter.
Lebda in Toronto is two years, $2.90 M. $1.45 M a year.
The $1.45 million is an $800,000 a year raise for Lebda and one that comes as quite a bit of a surprise given how Red Wings fans felt about the former Notre Dame Fighting Irish player. The Leafs defensemen now include this honestly stunning array of guys and their salaries. Salary cap hit numbers courtesy of Cap Geek.
Dion Phaneuf – $6.5 million
Mike Komisarek – $4.5 million
Tomas Kaberle – $4.25 million
Francois Beauchemin – $3.8 million
Jeff Finger – $3.5 million
Luke Schenn – $2.95 million
Brett Lebda – $1.45 million
Carl Gunnarson – $800,000
That’s good for a grand total of $27,750,000 all put towards defense. The question now for Toronto is: Who’s the guy that goes? The obvious choice is Kaberle because he’s the guy they’ve been looking to deal out of Toronto since his no-trade clause went away on July 1. That window to deal him is only open until August 15th, however.
The next logical candidate is the infamous Jeff Finger, he of the magical raise and slightly insane contract. Finger often found himself a healthy scratch last year as the Leafs cycled through their many defensemen. At the least, the Leafs can be given credit for not having contracts dictate the lineup. That doesn’t make it seem any less embarrassing though when you’re sitting down a guy you’re paying $3.5 million to.
While it’s fun to get a good laugh at the Leafs because of this logjam, if you can look at the guys they’re actually stocking on the roster, it’s a pretty damn good blueline and an area that general manager Brian Burke only had to make minor tweaks to. Consider the addition of Brett Lebda to be that minor tweak as it means they won’t have to rely on the still green Carl Gunnarson quite as much and once they’re able to deal off either Kaberle or Finger they’ll have their defense set for good and perhaps even have another talented scorer to make up for the loss of that player.
- Kucherov isn’t going to ‘cry’ about Kronwall hit 12
- Nothing but Kuznetsov: Caps best Isles in Game 7 18
- Not done yet: Lightning earn Game 7 against Red Wings 7
- WATCH LIVE: Tonight’s Stanley Cup Playoff action 0
- Blues owner ‘disappointed and frustrated,’ but not ready to ‘throw people under the bus’ 28
- Despite ‘step in the right direction,’ do Canucks need to alter core? 16
- Report: Developers file intent to build arena in Seattle suburb 78
- Rangers lose Zuccarello indefinitely with suspected concussion 8
- Cooper: Lightning have to ‘suck it up’ and ‘fight through’ Wings’ interference 52
- Here’s your Stanley Cup playoff TV schedule for tonight 13
- It’s Done: Rangers eliminate Penguins in overtime (110)
- Another Blues campaign ends in disappoint as Wild advance (99)
- Bettman under fire after saying ‘Katy Perry’ chant wasn’t sexist (92)
- Friedman: Penguins need to ‘think about’ trading Malkin (89)
- Okposo blasts ‘idiot’ Wilson after physical outing versus Isles (82)