The rebuilding plan for the Toronto Maple Leafs
will start with a 2008 fifth round draft pick acquired from the Florida Panthers
. Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher was able to acquire the pick in exchange for little-used, but very-much appreciated winger Wade Belak
Belak is a career enforcer, and hardly a scorer. The goal he scored on Dec. 4 against Nashville snapped a streak of 143 NHL games without one. But, at 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds Belak could provide some muscle for the Panthers this season.
The Panthers have fallen six points out of a playoff spot with a 1-3-1 record in their last five games. They have 63 points, which ironically ties them with the Maple Leafs for 12th in the Conference.
Belak, though, is a pending unrestricted free agent following this season, so he may only be a quick rental for the Panthers. He had 66 penalty minutes in 30 games for the Leafs this season.
The key for the Maple Leafs is acquiring a draft pick in return for a player who averages only four minutes of ice time per game and is quite often a healthy scratch. The 2008 NHL Entry Draft is supposed to be one of the deepest in recent memory.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.