October 06, 2009

I'm not a machine ...




I certainly ran with that whole "I Believe In Vernon Wells" shtick. It was a grind; he took a ton of abuse this season. But I like to think I pulled it off. I never stopped believing. And Wells rewarded me: he hit .312 in September, the month that doesn't matter. Vernon's going to ride that average into the off-season, and into 2010. Next summer, he's going to earn all $12.5 million of his salary.

Okay, fine, maybe not all of it. But certainly three quarters of it.

My point is: I don't have the energy to believe in Vesa Toskala. And, frankly, I'd rather believe in Jonas Gustavsson.

At least Wells has a track record. A few successful seasons, Gold Glove awards, and a couple of All-Star selections to hang his very expensive coat on. Even, believe it or not, MVP votes.

Toskala's got nothing. I'm holding on to February 2009 and his .912 save percentage for dear life.

It was up to Toskala to make sure there was no goaltending controversy in Toronto this season. Four periods and an overtime later, he's already failed that test. An .800 save percentage? Sample size be damned, get out of the crease.

With Toskala taking home $4 million this season, and his trade value likely as low as it's ever been, it's hard to believe the Leafs gave up a first-round pick to acquire him. Actually, it's not, but you know what I mean.

San Jose sold high back in June 2007, a concept the Leafs are still trying to grasp. And that's where it gets tough for the current regime. Do you play Toskala, and hope he regains some of his mostly average form, in the hopes of getting something, anything, back in return for him? Or do you unleash The Monster (I've been sitting on that one for a while), and see what he can do?

I'd love for Brian Burke to be able to trade Toskala. Perhaps give Detroit a call. They did take Larry Murphy.

But Gustavsson's here on a one-year contract and, if he's the real deal, he needs the opportunity to showcase his talent. One legendary pre-season save later, I think we all agree that young Jonas can better Toskala's numbers. I mean, that save was out of control. And Jesus knows Vesa hasn't set the bar high enough.

If the Leafs are going to be unbearable to watch, which it seems they might, I'd rather it be Gustavsson being shelled than Toskala. Vesa's worth little to nothing to us now.

I could defend Vernon Wells because of his, and I use the term loosely, "glory days." Toskala has yet to see his own, and it's hard to believe there are any in his future.

UPDATE: Gustavsson has been emancipated. He'll be in goal tonight. It will be his first of many victories against the Ottawa Senators.

10 comments:

bkblades said...

You're not a machine? But the ladies say differently...

Anyway, you bring up a point that is very alarming, which is the propensity for the Leafs to sell their so-called assets at their lowest points. I'm all for the playoffs, but to be a perennial contender, the Leafs have to do an extremely better job at maximizing their players, draft picks, and prospects. Can Burke and co. achieve it? I hope so, considering MLSE is paying the man $5 million a year.

Steve G. said...

If you have any first round picks left, I would gladly trade you Rask for one. How is Phil Kessel working out for you guys anyway? The Bruins are currently #3 in terms of coverage here, since the Sox and Patriots are playing now, so you can imagine that ex-Bruins players don't get a ton of coverage.

Bhattorious said...

Goalies, Goalies, Goalies....have we had a real goalie since Belfour....

remember the incrdible saves he made and how good his positioning was, and how he kept the leafs in games...

Well, we no longer have that no matter if you put Gustav in or Tosky....does it REALLY matter who, i mean with the way the leafs have played in-front of there net-minders, it wouldnt make a differance if Luongo was in net....wait, isnt he starting to suck too....anyway....

Burke is still in the right direction, he has depth in net (well more than last year) but it will continue to improve. i would still start toskala for a bit and let gusty really pissed, so that when he does get his start, he wont F*** it up.

Thats what i think..

BHATTORIOUS..........

"Dave Schultz" said...

Please tell me there will be a Vesa Toskala Hatred Advisory System, just for shits and giggles.

Hungry Leafs Fan said...

You know where I stand on this one. Glad you climbed on board!

The Monster will bring us to glory once again!

eyebleaf said...

@ BK: Where would you rank a first-round draft pick in terms of a team's assets? Trading two of them in his most significant move to date suggests Burke has them pretty low on the list.

@ Steve: Rask was a first-round selection. By the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was who the Leafs sent to Boston in return for Andrew Raycroft. Ridiculous. As for Kessel, he's due back from injury in November and, knowing our luck here in Toronto, he'll never be the same player he was before the shoulder injury again.

@ Bhattorious: The answer is simple: no, we haven't had a goalie since the year before the lockout. That's when Belfour was still solid. After the lockout, he was trash, followed by more garbage in Raycroft and ToskaLOL. And while I agree that the Leafs haven't been defensive wizards in front of their goalies, the Curtis Joseph and Belfour-led teams weren't brilliant defensive teams either. Those teams had goalies in Cujo and Eddie who could steal games, and be relied upon. Goalies that instilled confidence. That confidence goes a long way. Raycroft delivered none of it. The little that Toskala delivered in his first season has evaporated. And team confidence in a goalie can't be understated. It's huge.

As for tonight, I thought the Leafs would start Toskala, too. I figured they'd at least ride him until November, at the least. Give him a shot. But the leash is short. He deserves time on the bench, because he isn't getting the job done. If we can't trade Vesa, dump him in the minors when Kessel's ready to come back. Like I said, he's not worth much to us now.

@ Schultzy: That's a fantastic idea. Thank you.

@ Hungry: I have seen the light. Your jersey led the way. Way to represent.

Mattt said...

I have no reason to believe but my gut tells me JG is going to be a great goalie, even if for just a few years. We need another Felix Potvin type who came from nowhere and was unbelievable for a short time. Long enough to have some great seasons...

furcifer said...

I saw your comment on The Spin. What's the world coming to if we're agreeing with Damien Cox?

bkblades said...

I don't mind teams trading first round picks for young elite players. I'm not sold on Kessel as of yet (my main concern is the major shoulder surgery), but we won't know his impact until much later. However, I don't know if Burke did himself any favours by ramping up the public talk about Kessel and in essence, driving up his own cost. I don't think Kessel would have been had for just a single first round pick, but adding two of them means you better be very sure you're trading for the right guy.

As you said, Burke doesn't seem to value first rounders that highly. However, I have to think that this year's first round pick has more value if only because the season hasn't played out yet. Kessel wanted to play for Toronto the most, yet the Leafs didn't get any discount or parlay any back-up contingencies (even a low round pick or an unspectacular prospect/player). A 21 year old player with a lot of questions, but he certainly didn't come cheaply. I hate to be revisionist about this trade, but it's hard to do when my initial reaction of the trade wasn't overly favourable.

Having said all that, it is quite a refreshing change to see a Leafs GM making such a significant trade to infuse a young, potential star into the fold.

Anonymous said...

Long time listener and first time caller...I currently live in a city that has a baseball team that just made the playoffs yesterday(reminded me of the jays circa early 90's) and a football team that look really good(damn that Favre). Yet, I can't figure out WHY AM I A FAN OF THE LEAFS, JAYS, BILLS and RAPTORS@!! SERIOUSLY WHY??? I apprently like GM's that trades away my entire future for VESA or OWEN NOLAN OR RAYCROFT, OR even better J O'Neal. And i know people say it is the previous GM's that did that but SERIOUSLY COME ON! I don't think it is a administrion thing but rather a franchise thing. I'm jumping on the 1 person needs to be in charge of the leafs/raptors rather than a commitee. I want a jerry jones, atleast he cares.

-Tie Domi