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Lots Of Risks And Rewards In Possible Savard Deal

by Mike Ulmer / Toronto Maple Leafs
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Okay, let me ask you this.

What happens if I came into possession of a time machine that could deliver you a 32-year-old Mats Sundin still with hair under the helmet?

And let us also postulate that the price for this player would be marginal, a third liner or less.

Would you make that deal?

That is a new spin on the question Leafs GM Brian Burke is likely to ask as the wheels grind on in the Marc Savard Saga.

Savard, you may have heard, seems to be out of a job in Boston where the arrival of Tyler Seguin made him expendable. That second overall selection was the Leafs pick, a coincidence that makes this situation even juicier. It has been widely reported that when notified of the Bruins’ intent to go younger, Savard offered two teams for which he would waive his no-trade clause: Toronto or Ottawa.

You can certainly see the Bruin’s point of view.

Savard is 32. He was spectacularly concussed by Pittsburgh thug Matt Cooke last season and he has had several concussions in his career. He has been the subject of rumours that he does not make things easy for coaches.

And oh yes, he is due $25.5 million dollars over the next four years. This guy is a contract dump waiting to happen.

All true. But so is the math. Take Sundin’s point production in his prime, the years when he was between 28 and 32. He comes in at 76 points per season.

Now Savard played only 41 games last year so for the purposes of comparison I took the average of the three seasons before last year and counted it as the final year of Savard’s 28-32 prime.

Seventy-six points.

So, let me ask you again, would you want Mats Sundin, or more specifically a player who delivered Mats Sundin-like points production in exchange for a bit player?

Okay, here’s the case against.  Savard is coming of a dreadful year in which he played with a revolving door of wingers. He broke his foot, hurt his knee and then suffered the Cooke blindside. He had a game-winning playoff goal in the Bruins’ second round series against Philadelphia but played poorly as the Bruins staged one of the great collapses in modern hockey history. The large Flyer forwards had their way with Savard down low the later stages of the series.

Here’s the pro side of the ledger.

Savard is intensely competitive and one of the best pure passers in the game. He did everything he was asked to do in Boston including working harder on defence and dropping some weight. His chemistry with Phil Kessel was astonishing.

This is a strict risk to reward question.

What do you lose if Marc Savard is a bust?

Well, you lose $4 million in cap space and that’s considerable.

You could be saddled with an unproductive 34-year-old player with two more years on his deal.

You have a player more likely to suffer a concussion by virtue of his history.

But what could you get?

A bargain priced first line centre.

Vinny Lecavalier gets $10 million a year and he’s not even the Lightning’s first-liner.

Eric Staal banked 70 points last season for a cap hit of $8.25 million.

Also in that output neighborhood were Derek Roy (69 points, $4 million cap hit), Nik Antropov ($4 million cap hit, 67 points) and Tim Connolly, ($4.5 million on the cap, 65 points).

If any of these players were available, they would command a first or second liner in return. All would have as big an impact on the salary cap as Savard.

You get a focus for your offence and someone who can give Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak two or three seasons before shouldering more of an offensive load.

You give a boost to the league’s worst power play.

You electrify Kessel.

Doesn’t seem like much of a risk to me.

I’d do it.
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