Quick, what do Garth Snow, Kevin Weekes, Felix Potvin, Bob Essensa, Dan Cloutier, Martin Brochu, Peter Skudra, Alex Auld, and Johan Hedberg all have in common?
If you guessed “they’re all residents of Brian Burke’s Goalie Graveyard” then you’re bang-on.
Burke took the day off from signing defensemen today so that he could turn his focus to landing the coveted Swedish “Monster”, Jonas “The Monster” Gustavsson. I’m going to keep my mouth decidedly shut until I actually see this guy play in the NHL. Here’s hoping that his career in North America yields more success than another former hot Swedish export.
Back to the defensemen for a moment, though. Burke has assembled a pretty stellar crop of nasty body-bashing bruisers with Mike Komisarek, Garnet Exelby, and now Francois Beauchemin. Assuming that talks of trading Tomas Kaberle are dead (they should be), then Luke Schenn obviously claims a spot on the blueline which leaves Mike Van Ryn, Jeff Finger, and Ian White to battle for the sixth spot. Here begins the debate.
Leafs’ Nation is already sounding off with their support for Ian White. He did, after all, have a decent breakout season last year and showed some scoring touch that had eluded him in previous seasons. Our friend Eyebleaf is calling for Van Ryn to be moved via trade (can’t argue with that) and leaving the rest of the scraps to battle in the pressbox:
“Finger and his $3.5 million dollar contract, along with Jonas Frogren and Anton Stralman, are the spare parts.
With four defensive defenseman making up the six, Kaberle would come in handy, especially on the power play. He could conceivably quarterback both units, for the entire two minutes.
There’s also been some chatter as to having White play the wing, and Finger take a regular shift on defense. While I know it’s ridiculous to sit a guy making $3.5 million, I think White’s got a bright future on the Leafs, but only as a defenseman. He earned the trust of Wilson and co. last season with his solid play, and the admiration of us fans with his moustache.”
If you’re familiar with Hockeyhead, then you know there’s a special affinity here for Jeff Finger
. With that said, you know we can’t stand the thought of not having Kurt Sauer
Jeff Finger holding down the blueline with his hard-hitting style. It’s White’s offensive abilities that might work out in Finger’s favour in an attempt to crack the lineup everyday. Yeah, the $3.5 million owed to Finger next year certainly helps his cause, he’s too expensive to just pencil-in now and then. Similar to what we saw from the Pittsburgh Penguins throughout the playoffs, we could see Ron Wilson and co. elect to dress seven defensemen with White seeing more time as the spare forward and picking up some power play minutes as well.
Even as a resistant Leafs’ fan (I live in Toronto, that’s it) I have to admit that Burke’s work so far this offseason has been intriguing at the least. Sometime though, he’s going to have to start thinking about how they’re going to score some goals.