Updates on the Maple Leafs and Islanders – March 26, 2012.

Could Jonas Gustavsson played his final games with the Maple Leafs? Has Joey Crabb earned a new contract with the Leafs? Do Al Montoya and Steve Staios have futures with the Islanders?


Has "The Monster" played his final game as a Leaf?

TORONTO SUN: Terry Koshan suggests it’s not a stretch to assume Jonas Gustavsson has played his final game with the Maple Leafs, as there’s no back-to-back games left on the Leafs schedule. As long as James Reimer continues to play well, Gustavsson might finish the season on the bench.

SPORTSNET.CA: Mike Brophy reports Leafs forward Joey Crabb has proven this season he belongs in the NHL. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer, and there could be interest in his services if the Leafs fail to re-sign him, though Crabb says his priority is to remain a Leaf.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s my guess Leafs GM Brian Burke will seek an experienced starting goalie to stabilize things between the pipes and act as a mentor for Reimer. I expect Gustavsson won’t be re-signed. As for Crabb, he’s only earning $725K this season, so he shouldn’t be a difficult re-signing. He’s a good energy forward and I would expect Burke would like to keep him in the fold.

NEWSDAY: Arthur Staple reports veteran defenseman Steve Staios, who’s poised to play his 1,000th career NHL game, hasn’t made a decision yet if he wants to return for a 17th NHL season, but said if he does decide to return, he’d prefer to do so with the Islanders. Staple also reported Saturday goaltender Al Montoya faces an uncertain future with the Islanders, who now have Evgeni Nabokov and Rick DiPietro under contract for next season, as well as rookies Anders Nilsson and Kevin Poulin waiting in the wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Funny thing about those who play for the Isles in recent years, as they all wish to re-sign with the team when they approach free agency. And we’re not talking about marginal players grateful to have jobs, but also their best players. If Staios wants to return it’s possible they could re-sign him, but I doubt Montoya returns, though his performance over the past couple of season should earn him a new contract with another NHL club in a backup role this summer.


    If Riemer had held up to his end of the bargain this year Gustavson would have been the prefect back up . He had played very good in stints and was the better overall goalie out of the 3 goalies that played this year …I ve noticed that when Gustavson played his style of hockey not the Allaire style he was 10 times better …he can be a good pick up to any team looking for goalie depth in a young player …..as all players with the leafs …when tradde or let him they will flourish somewhere else!!!! Once agaian the Leafs mismanagement ruined this kid and his confidence early in his tenure as they are doing with Kadri as well!
    If I was Gustavson id go back to Europe …he could be more valuable there and make more money than here at this point ! Here he could be had for another $1.5million . for one season !

    It really depends on how deep Burke goes with his changes to weather or not Crabb is in the fold.
    Crabb has earned a spot this year and is a role player who has done his job …but sweeping changes YET AGAIN …could leave him an odd man out regardless of pay structure …every player will be seriously evaluated for a roster spot next year and with some younger players at the doorstep he could be left to just walk ! It really depends on how big Burke goes to address a first line center …a 1-2 defenseman and a starting goalie all of which are going to cost and push the cap leaving litle room for extra cash …for the first time Burke needs to watch his pennies as he way over spent on other DUDDS whom are under contract ….Crabb will be evaluated after Burke decides weahther or not he uses a buyout for other players !

    Hes earned another season with the Islanders …if they arent going to upgrade and with Nabakov there he fits well in pay structure …..his play and with his age , unless they are looking to Nabakov to mentor someone while he is there for a future goalie …which I dont see the Islanders have yet !
    Poulin has not shown well but Nillson could be a better option than Montoya!
    Who knows maybe the Islanders pick up Gustavson …..that would be a Garth Snow thing to do thats for sure!!

    Staois ..will retire !

  2. The Leafs should definitely hold onto Crabbage as like Lyle said he’s a great energy forward on a cheap contract. Him and Frattin together could be a great third line combo.
    Gustavsson needs to go. They cant throw him down to the Marlies as Rynnas and Scrivens are better served to get playing time down there. I really dont believe Reimer is a starter and is signed to a contract that doesn’t reflect a backup being paid too much. 1.8 mill for a backup makes sense. I say the Leafs try and acquire Bernier or Schneider and if they cannot get him go after Harding. As I”ve mentionned before, I think he has earned the right to be a #1.

    Staios’ experience could prove to be a good thing for the up and coming isles. They seem to be gradually getting better. Staios would be a good mentor for Hamonic and De Haan who I think will be up with the big club next year. The Isles have some delish cookies in the cupboard and should be an exciting team to watch the next few years.

    Tavares has found himself it seems so some bigger names may begin to the view the Island as a legit destination to play. Re-signing Nabokov was a great move by Snow. He will flourish once they add some of the missing pieces!

    Also, congrats to Tiger, nice to see him back in the winner’s circle!

  3. Not a stretch? I’d have to think that Gustavsson walking away from Leafland in the summer would be a foregone conclusion at this point. For a guy once touted as “the best goalie not in the NHL”, it looks like he wasn’t there for a reason. His health issues were totally out of his control, but to say he struggled to adjust to the North American game would be an understatement. With the demand for goalies dwindling and the other keepers potentially on the market this summer (Harding, Schneider, Bernier) I could seriously see the Monster going back to the SEL.

    Joey Crabb is, at best, a dime a dozen player in the NHL and if Brian Burke is going to upgrade his team to take another run at the playoffs, he’ll be one of the players to lose his roster spot to a regular contributor. At best, he should be looking at a 4th line/13th forward spot going into camp next year, if he’s still with the team.

    Montoya’s looked good on a middling-at-best Isles team when given his chances. Since DiPietro seems to get injured rolling out of bed in the morning, Montoya would pretty much be a lock for a back-up job for the Isles again if he really wants to stay there. Of course, as Lyle stated, he’d be able to find a #2 spot on just about any other team as well.

  4. “Since Dipietro seems to get hurt rolling out of bed in the morning” hahaha

  5. The problem I see with Gus is that he needs consistant starts to be effective, but he’s yet to warrant having the first string tag. He will fail as a backup on any team. When he has come in and played more then 4-5 games in a row, he seems to get into a groove, and is actually quite decent. I can see three paths for his future, go to a building team with weak goaltending and try to steal the starters role, be a back up for a good team and hope for an injury, or as Chris mentioned go to Europe. One thing is for sure, he should not be a Leaf next year. I agree with Lyle, we need an experienced goalie to mentor Reimer. I personally like Emery for the job.
    Crabb should be resigned, he’s more of a grinder/pk player, but he does have marginal offensive upside that is quite usefull on the third line. I’d like to see him resigned for a year or two untill Ross, Biggs and Ashton are ready for full time duty.
    I personally like Montoya. I think he’s a better option for teams seeking a backup who might (emphasis on might) grow into the role of a first stringer. I think Montoya has the talent, his future looks bright IMO.

  6. What about Montoya to Pitty to replcace Johnson who looks to be on the outs??

  7. @ Durt…

    Good call on Emery. He has proven this year with Chicags that he can still play. I would say he is option 4 behind Bernier, Schneider and Harding

  8. @Thewes

    I really dont see Schnieder being traded as they need Schnieder longer term than Luongo at this point.
    He has to be kept in the fold until Luongo is moved or they could be in serious trouble in the future! He has to be Luongos successor…especially with little #1 Goalie talent in the league.
    Joash harding will be a bubble gum fix for any team looking to him to be a legit #1 goalie to play 50 plus games I just dont see it ….he would be a perfect fit in Winnipeg behind Pavelec next year !

    Bernier will find a good home and will most likely be a starter next season ..however soem believe the work load may be too much for him ( as per scouts) it will be interesting to see who the most coveted goalie is come this summer as some dynamics have changed coming down the stretch this spring !

    As for the Leafs there best bet would be to make a VERY SERIOUS trade offer to the Blues for Halak or Dallas for Leightenon or Nashville for Lindback …it has to be a seriuos offer as they need a serious goalie !

  9. Fists – I think Pittsburgh likes Thiessen to back up M-A Fleury. With a full season under his belt he should grow into the role and let’s face it, they really don’t need to bring in a GREAT goalie to back up #29. If Chicago continues their goaltending trend, it’s possible they give either guy a look if they decide against bringing back Emery.

  10. @ Chris
    I would disagree about Harding. He’s UFA and I can see a team taking a chance on him to be their #1.
    Schneider or Luongo will be gone, but Luongo’s contract may prove difficult to move. Luongo for Lecav would be interesting. The Nucks have Schneider 2.0 in Lack and could obtain some valuable building assets by trading Schneider.

    Thiessen seems to have played fairly well, but his save pct could be a cause for concern for the Pens to pick a more experienced backup on a one year deal. They might look for someone who can start 15-20 games that have more faith in. But Thiessen would be a solid option if it came down to it.

  11. Chris – There’s no question Schneider has more long-term value than Luongo, but with the upcoming summer holding so much uncertainty about the CBA, I think any trade market for Luongo would be limited to a handful of teams. Out of that handful of teams, it’s hard to know if any of them would be on Luongo’s short list of desired trade destinations if asked. As with the Nash situation, we’ve seen how that can play out.
    Schneider’s also an RFA this summer, and after his well-deserved pay raise, he might be getting a paycheque that doesn’t resemble that of a typical #2 goalie. I don’t see the Leafs having a valuable enough asset aside from this year’s 1st rounder (which doesn’t really help Vancouver much at this point) to get Schneider. If Burke’s able to dump enough salary and get creative enough, does he take a run at Luongo? Not saying it happens, but it takes one big excuse off the list for the Leafs.

  12. I hope the Leafs don’t bring Crabb back. At some point, they have to realize that they do have some good prospects in the minors that can play limited roles with the Leafs, and so they don’t HAVE to go to career AHL’ers to fill spots like they did when Burke first arrived. Crabb has been okay, but it’d be better for the future of the team if it were given to a developing young player like Ashton, Ross or even the seemingly forgotten Kenny Ryan. As for Gus, I’d prefer that the Leafs just make a decision about who’s going to be the man in the future, and then Burke can try to get something for the other one (even a low draft pick is better than letting the guy walk for nothing ATP!).

  13. @Thewes
    Vancouver and Leasf wont do business together IMO
    Luongo may be a good pick up for Leafs but he may be a partial player with the fans and might not fare well here with the Leaf fans…. if he suffers in play Toronto is not a good destination for him , plus its his call in the end anyways …I would say hes had enough of the Canada spotlight and would opt to be in a non hockey marekt with very little preasure ….Lack has very little experience in the NHL Schnieder has been to the Cup final that is very important !

  14. Chris, I think you’re mostly right about Van/Tor not trading. But I think if there is any hope of that happening, Toronto’s first for Schneider wouldn’t look as bad asthetically for Vancouver fans. There will always be those in Vancouver who wouldn’t piss on Leaf players if they were on fire, but a top 5-6 draft pick may look sexy for a team that is a contender. It gives them a very good future player who has time to develope while their core players age. In two are three years, their may be room for a top prospect to play in Vancouvers top 6. Especially after they traded Hodgson.

  15. @DurtmcHurt

    So then that means you stick with Luongo for the next 3-4 years …there is very little in the league that can take over for Schneider especially if you move out Luongo for any reason ..then your stuck like the Leafs with just HOPE!!! They have a Bonifide #1 young franchise goalie for the next 5 years plus …
    If this is the year to make a decision you have to go with the future not the present !…..Iam a former Junior goalie …and can tell you that if up to me you have to cut the rope on Luongo save some money and move foarward …can not trade Schneider……This is Luongos year to CUP or bust …or.. back down south!
    I still feel Luongo would be a perfect fit in Florida with that team as opposed to the Canucks and IMO has a better chance to win the cup there in the next few years than in VAN !

  16. I think the Leafs have no choice but to keep their first. If they’re able to get someone like Grigorenko, Faksa, Galchenyuk I dont see how they can pass on that…I would look to trade their 2013 first, Kadri, and their 2012 2nd for the likes of Schneider or Bernier. I just dont see Schneider staying in Van after the year is over. He’ll be an expensive backup because how can Luongo not start with the contract he has. Also, Luongo has a NTC so he picks his fate.

  17. Chris I absolutely agree you keep Schneider and try and trade Lou. Problem is, he can veto any trade to the select few teams willing to carry his expensive contract. Chances are Lou stays. And getting a 5th-6th overall pick for Schneider is dam good value is all I’m saying.

  18. The Leafs shoudl try to get Luon or a song and a dance (i.e. take that contract).
    They desperately need a legit #1 to teach Reimer and to give them consistency in their division.
    I’m not a uge Luongo fan, but there are no other ture #1s available… anyone else you try to get (Schneider and Bernier included) are not proven guys. Not ot mention that Reimer or the Monster might look Vezina worthy playing behind the Canucks….

    You don’t want to end up paying an arm and a leg for Vesa Toskala, er, I mean Jonathan Bernier.

  19. Sorry, I meant to write “Luongo for a song and dance”

  20. I think anyone in their right mind would agree that Schneider is the better “keeper” option for Vancouver, but realistically speaking, Luongo is the guy they’ve hitched their cart to until the contract is up. Trading Schneider would be less of a hockey move and more of a business move in that they’ll be looking to capitalize on an appreciating asset. This summer is the prime window of time to move him and if they can see past any Toronto-Vancouver bitterness, the best value out there would likely be the Leafs 1st rounder – barring any spectacular winning streak that puts them out of lottery range… Not like THAT’S ever happened before. If the Leafs assess their goaltending situation and decide that they need a young stud to build around (which they thought they had in Reimer) then Schneider should be their main target. Given Burke’s loyalties though, I envision them keeping Reimer as the #1a while signing or trading for a #1b veteran to support him. If Biron becomes available, I could see him being a Burke target in the summer.

  21. @ Nikk
    do you have a link that states Luongo is on the market?

  22. NikK –

    “You don’t want to end up paying an arm and a leg for Vesa Toskala”

    Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. Signed, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  23. This is a very good conversation guys because this topic is very much like the Kessel situation as both Kessel and Schnieder are both very important to there teams and can be more important moving forward but both can also help you move forward by getting in return some better pieces for the future via trade as both hold the same type of value.

    @crazyfists I dont think it has been public knowledge that Luongo is on the market ..its just a matter of math and the needs of the team long term …..after this season they are in a predicament and have to make a serious decision on the future of the club …..

    1) Stay with luong and loose Schneider and risk retaining Luongo on the downward slide of his career and not know where you would find another legit goalie after Luongo in probably 2 years !

    2) Sign Schnieder to a 5 year deal and keep both until Luongo gets pushed out of the nest and waves his no trade ..that would be best for long term sustainability for Vancouver , but Schnieder has to stay or you could be lost between the pipes in 2 years

  24. @ Chris
    If Luongo is in fact on the downslide of his career, then what team will want him? I understand the math aspect which makes sense, but there’s more to it than that. Luongo is signed long term with a no trade.

    Option 2 wont work because there’s no way Schneiders resigns long term as long as Luongo is there, that’s it.

    And what makes Luongo so bad anyway??? He’s putting up very solid #’s again this year + he’s a known slow starter so I do believe you’re under valuing Luongo. Yes he’s partly to blame for the finals last but there were a lot more reasons than him as to why they didn’t take it all…

  25. @Chris – Perhaps you shoudl start your own blog !!! Sort of joking… you have more to say than Lyle on his own site, lol. And everything is caps and EXCLAMATIONS !!! What team do you cheer for, or are you really just a fan of second guessing with the benefit of hindsight?

    Getting serious for a moment, how can you say Reimer dropped the ball this year? Prior to his injury he was amung the league leaders, is it his fault, or Burkes he got HURT by an opposing player? !!! Not everyone can return after multiple concussions and be right back competing at the same level they were before.

  26. oh Spector no! You rebel rouser, giving them a Leafs’ story!

    Anyways on Montoya, he’s worth a look to the Tampa’s out there. He’s definately a cheaper, more under-the-radar type potential starter than Bernier or Schnieder, who’s teams want a much higher bounty for.

  27. @ Grant
    He would be like Eklund 2.0

    But i would have to disagree with you on Reimer…sure he played well for about 9 games before getting hurt, but has stunk ever since. I think the point is, would you want to rely on him as your legit #1 tender?

    @ ACR
    I like that idea…Montoya is a very underrated goalie and if I remember he was drafted quite high by the Rangers? So there must be something the scouts saw skill wise that he hopefulyl still has. But I think he would be a great fit in TB…

  28. “Toronto’s first for Schneider wouldn’t look as bad asthetically for Vancouver fans.”

    I’d be more interested in what it’d look like for Leaf fans, who’ve already lived through this scenario a number of times already.

  29. @GRANT
    This is Lyles site purley a visitor …HAAAAAA ..Iam Italian… I type like I speak ! sorry guys !! LOL….also just love hockey ..missed you guys ripping into me this weekend ! Iam trying to stay away from what I really think to write so you guys dont hate me and banish me from the Island ! LOL

    @36 carzyfists
    Iam purely just stating that there is a deep decision to be made here on the future #1 goalie for vancouver and the time to make that is fast approaching …yopu dont let a goalie like Schnieder go or trade him without truly thinking about the long term gains …if that was the case Van would have traded him all ready as Iam sure there has been significant offers …Vancouver is buying time and evaluating to see what big decsion they ned to make and if they have to approach Luongo and ask he would like to move and who are your teams you wish to go to …that has to be a very serious discussion amongst management before they part with Schnieder !

    @ ACR
    Please dont take this the wrong way ….Steve Yzerman wants a goalie that can take his team to the cup within 2 – 3 TOPS and needs to take advantage of Stamkos in his prime and at his best at this age.
    Yzerman has seen and played against the best goalies in the world through his era and would never deem Montoya a Stanley Cup winning goalie and unfortunately thats what he is in the market for …he hjas one chance at making this work he can not afford a goalie for 2 years then revaluate his goaltender in another 2 years and get a new one that takes 4 years off the life of Steve Stamkos …Yzerman has one shot at this to be a contender for the next little while !

  30. I find it unfair to have Reimer and Gustavsson take so much heat for how bad the entire team played the entire season. Consistency was non existing on a regular basis.

    Besides, Reimers good run last year was the worst that could have happen to him as it put way to high expectations on him as it did Pogge. But that is the plague known as leaf fans… They liked Joeseph but Raycroft and Pogge were run out of town and Toskala and Giguere left with “only” spit in their face.

    My guess is Reimers career plummage like Raycroft/Emrys and Gustavsson leaves Toronto with to backup a NHL team or start a KHL/SEL team.

  31. @Chris I totally understand that, I’ve never thought stanley cup….Al Montoya of coarse!

    Just mentioned he’s a cheaper option than others, could be used in mean time will they get their guy of the future, if they don’t want to give up all it would entail for Bernier or Schneider. (And I’d expect Schneiders price will be huge.)

    Montoya’s just one of those cheaper young,some upside guys to consider. Harding’s in that category too. Maybe Lindback. All 3 of those guys I can see being easily being moved before Bernier or Schneider, because of their potential costs.

    Especially for teams like Tampa or Columbus, who aren’t huge spenders and dont have as many super-talented roster pieces to spare.

  32. @36
    I think it is fairly obvious that after last year’s SCF perfromance, if Vancouver can find a taker for that contract, they would unload it in a minute… esspecially if they get bounced early this year.

  33. In the event that Luongo is traded it will be to Tampa for Lecavier and a pick.
    @Chris… Schnider is NOT the “successor to Luongo” Schnider will NOT be in Vancouver past this season unless Luongo is gone. The team can not afford to keep both of them. Both financially and sensibly.
    The Monster will be done in Toronto and will seek an opportunity elsewhere. The Leafs will most likely go after a veteran back up who can still play such as Emery. In the event that they try to go out and get a young goalie to back up they will go after Lindback. There’s no way that Nashville can retain Lindback long term where Rinne is now under a 7 year contract.
    I think Burke’s plan is to try to get Nash out of Columbus if he can’t get Parise to sign.(yes i recognize that the prime need is for a first line center but quite honestly, they best one on the UFA market this summer is Oli Jokenen). I think with the Nash deal Burke will try to dump contracts to Columbus along with young players for a rebuild in order to gain Nash and cap room. (this will be in a Komisarek/Connolly/Lombardi type way). The Columbus situation with Nash is not one where the contract amount is a big issue. It’s more so a hockey deal from Columbus’ end.

    by the way. Is everybody else intentionally ignoring the fact that the Leafs have 7 NHL Defence on their roster, with Holzer sitting and waiting? Franson is commonly the odd man out. He’s a good defender and can develop into a top 4 dman. With an RFA status at seasons end, I have a feeling that you could see his name in a trade this off season to gain a major piece up front.

    I think you’re going to see Lombardi, Franson, Conolly, Kadri and a second rounder for Nash.

    Burke’s going to try to draft a first line center this year in the draft if they can, possibly Galchenyuk. If that doesn’t appear to be looking like a realistic situation going into the 2014 season, Burke will go after Getzlaf at the 2013 trade deadline.