2010 NHL free agency: Leafs sign defenseman Brett Lebda for two years

brettlebda.jpgThe 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.

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    Vasilevskiy to get ‘more games’ as Bolts look to future

    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 08:  Ben Bishop #30 celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy #88 of the Tampa Bay Lightning after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in Game Three of the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final at the United Center on June 8, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    On July 1, when the Tampa Bay Lightning gave Andrei Vasilevskiy a contract extension through 2019-20, they essentially committed to a changing of the guard in goal.

    Though Ben Bishop remains with the team today, he’s a pending unrestricted free agent who’s not expected to re-sign, and may even be traded prior to the March 1 deadline.

    The situation leaves head coach Jon Cooper with a challenge. Vasilevskiy only started 21 games last season, in large part because Bishop was so good. But if Vasilevskiy is the goalie of the future, he needs to play.

    “The one thing is, you got to get Vasilevskiy more games. It’s what’s best for our team and what’s best for him,” Cooper told ESPN.com on Monday. “But you have to keep Bish engaged too, because he’s a two-time Vezina finalist the last three years and he’s a big reason we are where we are today. So there’s a balance. But if you really think about it, you start getting into the crux of the season, you’re playing 3-4 games a week, guys are getting in. I just want to find a way to have both guys play every week. It’s my job to find a way to get them in, and that’s what’s going to happen.”

    So far this season, Bishop has started three games and Vasilevskiy two. The youngster, just 22 years old, has been excellent, going 2-0-0 with a .952 save percentage. Bishop, on the other hand, has allowed 11 goals in his three starts, for a save percentage of just .861.

    It’s still early, but it’s going to be very interesting to see how this shakes out. If Vasilevskiy is still playing well by the trade deadline, GM Steve Yzerman may be tempted to deal Bishop. But then again, it’s always nice to have two capable netminders heading into the playoffs, as the Lightning know better than anyone that goalies can get hurt.

    The Bolts are currently on a six-game road trip. They started with a win Saturday in Ottawa, with Vasilevskiy between the pipes. They play tonight in Toronto and Thursday in Montreal, before hitting the New York area for games against the Devils, Rangers, and Islanders.

    B’s goalie drama continues — McIntyre the second emergency recall in as many days

    BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 22: Zane McIntyre #50 of the Boston Bruins makes a save against the Washington Capitals during the second period at TD Garden on September 22, 2015 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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    Tough, tough times in goal for Boston.

    Yesterday, we passed along word that Malcolm Subban had been recalled from AHL Providence — on an emergency basis — after Tuukka Rask missed practice with an injury, and Anton Khudobin was hurt during that same practice.

    Today, another recall.

    Zane McIntyre has also been brought up on an emergency basis, the B’s announced. They also announced that Khudobin would miss the next three weeks with an upper-body ailment, meaning that — for tonight’s home date at Minnesota — it will be Subban and McIntyre as the club’s goalies.

    Subban will get the start, and McIntyre will back up.

    Subban, the club’s first-round pick in 2012, has had a nightmare start to the year in Providence, going 0-3-1 with a 4.50 GAA and .846 save percentage.

    “I don’t know if he’s where he wants to be or where we want him to be,” head coach Kevin Dean said, per the Journal.

    McIntyre, the 24 year old taken in the sixth round in 2010, has fared much better, going 1-0-0 with a .977 save percentage and 0.44 GAA. To be fair, he’s only faced 43 shots in Providence this year.

    McIntyre had already been called up earlier this season — over the weekend, when Rask was initially lost to injury. Boston’s No. 1 netminder isn’t believed to be out long term (head coach Claude Julien said he’s not worried about Rask’s health situation), but that won’t make tonight’s scenario any less worrisome.


    NHL on NBCSN doubleheader: Sabres vs. Flyers; Ducks vs. Sharks

    PHILADELPHIA, PA - OCTOBER 27:  Michael Raffl #12 of the Philadelphia Flyers looks to pass as Josh Gorges #4 of the Buffalo Sabres defends in the second period on October 27, 2015 at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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    NBCSN has a doubleheader tonight and it begins at 7:30 p.m. ET when the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres. Following that game, the Anaheim Ducks will take on the Sharks in San Jose at 10:00 p.m. ET. To watch the early game online, click here. To watch the late game online, click here.

    The Flyers will be playing their second game in two nights, as they dropped a 3-1 decision in Montreal last night.

    Philadelphia had some good scoring opportunities, but they were held to one goal mainly because Canadiens goalie Carey Price put together a strong performance.

    “We definitely wanted to come in here and get two points and it’s disappointing with the loss,” Steve Mason said, per CSN Philly. “Nice thing is, we can get right back at it tomorrow [against Buffalo].

    “It was a close game overall and both teams had chances to go ahead. They capitalized on a couple bounces there and that’s the ebbs and flows of the game. They found a way to win and we didn’t.”

    After opening the season with three straight losses, the Flyers managed to string together back-to-back wins before Monday’s loss.

    The Sabres will be playing their fourth and final game of a road trip that saw them win big in Edmonton, lose in overtime to Calgary and lose a close one to Vancouver.

    Expect them to make some small changes ahead of tonight’s tilt in Philly.

    In an attempt to get Sam Reinhart going, the Sabres will move him back to center where he’ll play with Tyler Ennis and Zemgus Girgensons.

    With Jack Eichel and Evander Kane still out, Matt Moulson will jump onto the top line with Ryan O'Reilly and Kyle Okposo.

    “We’ve got six goals in one game,” head coach Bylsma said, per the Buffalo News. “You subtract that, we’ve got four in the other three games. We need to get more goals. We need to get more goals throughout.”

    In the late game…

    After winning their first two games of the season, the Sharks have been slumping of late. It’s still too early to say that they’re suffering from a Stanley Cup  Final “hangover” though.

    San Jose enters tonight’s contest having lost three of their last four contests.

    This will be their first game back home after their five-game road trip that saw them travel to play the Blue Jackets, Rangers, Islanders, Penguins and Red Wings.

    The team’s power play has been a big problem so far this season. They’ve converted on just 3 of 20 attempts on the man-advantage and as CSN Bay Area points out, just one of those goals came on a five-on-four power play.

    “We’re not shooting the puck enough, that’s the big thing,” Logan Couture said, per CSN Bay Area. “We’ve got to shoot the puck, get traffic. We always have a guy in front of the net and we’ve been getting away from that.”

    When San Jose hit the ice on Monday, they had completely different lines (the top power play unit stayed the same).

    Mikkel Boedker was on a line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, while Couture practiced between Joonas Donskoi and Joel Ward. Tomas Hertl was with Patrick Marleau and Matt Nieto on the third line.

    Only one point separates the Sharks (3-3-0) and Ducks (2-3-1) through six games, but things are a little more positive in Anaheim right now.

    They’re coming off back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Vancouver, and they believe that they’ve turned the corner.

    “I think we’re at a point where we’ve built our game enough where we should feel confident playing a team like San Jose,” forward Andrew Cogilano said, per the OC Register. “They’re good. They’re going to make it very hard on us and I think it’s going to show how prepared we are. How far we’ve come from maybe the first couple of games of the season. And if our game is here to stay.”

    Report: Anders Lindback will join injury-riddled Kings

    GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 17:  Goaltender Anders Lindback #29 of the Arizona Coyotes in action during the NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Gila River Arena on December 17, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Blue Jackets defeated the Coyotes 7-5.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

    The Los Angeles Kings have reportedly found a goalie to fill in for Jonathan Quick and Jeff Zatkoff.

    According to a report out of Sweden, Anders Lindback will be joining the Kings on a “short-term contract”.

    Lindback spent training camp with the New Jersey Devils, where he played well, but the team ultimately decided to stick with Cory Schneider and Keith Kinkaid.

    If you count the PTO with the Devils, this will be his seventh team in the last six seasons.

    The 28-year-old spent the 2015-16 campaign with the Arizona Coyotes. He had a 5-7-1 record with a 3.11 goals-against-average and a .894 save percentage in 19 appearances.

    This isn’t a long-term solution for the Kings, but at least it’s an affordable one.


    Kings expect Quick to miss about three months

    Zatkoff injures groin during morning skate