Saturday, July 08, 2006

Free Agency, Huzzah!

The free agent season started on July 1st, and what a week it's been since then.

The Leafs got in on the free agent pie, thankfully, landing two decent defencemen in Pavel Kubina and Hal Gill. So for the first time in as long as we care to remember, the Leafs actually have a solid group of blue-liners.

John Ferguson Jr. has been doing well this offseason, probably trying to make up for last year's non-offseason, in which he signed Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, and Jeff O'Neill, who promptly all got injured.

Of those three, only O'Neill is under contract for this season, and we here at 63 Years expect him to put up significantly better numbers than last year (38 points, 74 games). Or else.

Allison, the only one who actually put up numbers (60 points, 66 games) is likely to take his unsightly -19 somewhere else this season.

Eric Lindros, nee The Big E, might be back again, on the cheap of course. We would not be against Lindros returning. He was a key figure last season while captain Mats Sundin was out early on, though he eventually dropped off the radar and ended up missing most of the season with a wrist injury (22 points, 33 games). This obviously isn't the Lindros of the mid-nineties, and nobody expects him to put up those kind of numbers, but we feel that he would bring something intangible to this squad.

Side note: Eddie Belfour seems set to sucker the Red Wings into giving him a contract. Didn't Detroit learn their lesson with Hasek? 40+ goalies are not the way to go. This will end badly for both sides.

Side note: Gary Roberts is trying to wrangle a trade back to Toronto, which unfortunately only sounds good in theory. We here at 63 Years love Roberts to bits, we do, but Florida signed him to way more money than they should have last year, and that's not money the Leafs have to throw on aging veterans. Though, you have to think, if the Leafs were still under old management, Roberts would have been back in a heart beat, and Tie Domi and Belfour would still be wearing the Blue and White as well.

On the Raptors side, they shipped up and down rookie Charlie Villaneuva out of town for point guard T.J Ford. Score another one for Brian Collangelo. These Raptors are starting to look like an actual team. Pinch us, we might be dreaming.

Also, the Raps are starting to phase the purple out of the team colours, in favour of the more patriotic red. Now, Collangelo probably had nothing to do with this move, but ever since he came on board, the news about this team just keeps getting and better.

And finally, the Jays are in a funk right now, having just lost their series, Kansas.


Well, the All-Star break is right around the corner, so perhaps that will help. And speaking of all-stars, the Jays have five, count 'em, five of them, the most since 1993, and you know what that team went on to do.

Of course, none of them are starters (though Vernon Wells assuredly deserves to be), but hey, cracking the AL all-star starters is no easy task, especially when you don't play in the centre of the baseball world, Boston or New York.



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