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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    Avs put big Swedish forward Everberg on waivers

    Dennis Everberg, Jason Pominville
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    Colorado made a minor roster move on Thursday, putting winger Dennis Everberg on waivers.

    Eveberg, 23, made his NHL debut with the Avs last season and had a fairly good rookie season, with 12 points in 55 games. This year, though, his offense was really lacking — Everberg had zero points through his first 15 games, averaging just under nine minutes per night.

    The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder originally came to the Avs after a lengthy stint playing for Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League, turning heads with a 17-goal, 34-point effort in 47 games during the ’13-14 campaign.

    Should he clear waivers, he’ll be off to the club’s AHL affiliate in San Antonio.

    As far as Benning is concerned, ‘the Sedins are going to retire as Vancouver Canucks’

    Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin
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    You may recall over the summer when the Sedin twins were asked by a Swedish news outlet if they’d ever consider waiving their no-trade clauses and playing for a team that wasn’t the Vancouver Canucks.

    Their answer? They had no intention — none whatsoever — of leaving Vancouver, even if they were presented with an opportunity to join a Stanley Cup contender.


    Yes, there was a but.

    They didn’t definitively say they’d refuse to waive. If, for instance, management were to approach them during the final season of their contracts (2017-18), well, maybe they’d have to consider it.

    And, so, because it was the summer and there was nothing else to talk about, and because it had only been a short time since the Flames had made the Canucks look so old and slow in the playoffs, it became a topic of conversation among the fans and media.

    Today, GM Jim Benning was asked if he’d put an end to the rumors.

    “As far as I’m concerned, the Sedins are going to retire as Vancouver Canucks,” Benning told TSN 1040.

    Daniel Sedin currently ranks fourth in NHL scoring with 25 points in 23 games. Henrik is tied for 14th with 22 points. Even at 35, they’re still excellent players.

    “I don’t know if they’re getting better, but they’re not getting any worse,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Saturday, after the twins had combined for nine points in beating the defending champs.

    It’s also worth noting that there’s far more optimism in Vancouver about the Canucks’ youth. Last year, there was only Bo Horvat to get excited about. This year, there’s Horvat, Jared McCann, Jake Virtanen and Ben Hutton.

    True, the youngsters still have a ways to go. And yes, there are still some glaring holes in the Canucks’ lineup — most notably on the blue line, a tough area to address via trade or free agency. 

    It may be in Vancouver’s best long-term interests to miss the playoffs this season and get into the draft lottery. 

    But you never know, if they hang around a few more years, with a little luck and some good moves by management, the Sedins might not be done chasing the Cup after all.

    NHL has no plans to change waiver rules

    Manny Malhotra Ryan Stanton
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    Even with all the young players that have been healthy scratches this season, don’t expect the NHL to change its waiver rules.

    Deputy commissioner Bill Daly told PHT in an email that it’s not something that’s “ever been considered.”

    “For better or worse that’s what waiver rules are there for,” Daly wrote. “They force Clubs to make tough decisions.”

    Today, Montreal defenseman Jarred Tinordi became the latest waiver-eligible youngster to be sent to the AHL on a two-week conditioning loan.

    Tinordi, 23, has yet to play a single game for the Habs this season. If he were still exempt from waivers, he’d have undoubtedly been sent to the AHL long before he had to watch so many NHL games from the press box.

    In light of situations like Tinordi’s, some have suggested the NHL change the rules. Currently, the only risk-free way for waiver-eligible players to get playing time in the AHL is via conditioning stint, and, as mentioned, those are limited to 14 days in length.

    So the Habs will, indeed, need to make a “tough decision” when Tinordi’s conditioning stint is up. Do they put him in the lineup? Do they keep him in the press box and wait for an injury or some other circumstance to create an opportunity for him to play? Do they risk losing him to waivers by attempting to send him to the AHL? Do they trade him?

    Your call, Marc Bergevin.

    Related: Stanislav Galiev is stuck in the NHL

    Ortio clears waivers, assigned to Flames’ AHL team

    Joni Ortio
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    Joni Ortio has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Stockton, the Calgary Flames announced today.

    The 24-year-old goalie was always likely to clear, what with his dreadful numbers this season (0-2-1, .868),

    But we suppose there was always the chance he’d get picked up, so it’s a relief for the Flames all the same. With a little more time to hone his game in the AHL, Ortio could still turn out to be a quality NHL netminder.

    In a related move, veteran goalie Jonas Hiller has been activated from injured reserve. Hiller and Karri Ramo are the only goalies on the Flames’ active roster now.