A Carolina Hurricanes blog with occasional news about the rest of the NHL.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Leafs sign Czerkawski

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger Mariusz Czerkawski on Friday. Terms of the deal are not available, but most of the speculation that I heard is that he'll make somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.2M. A good bargain at that price, but that number is purely speculation. The 33 year-old winger has been fairly consistent, netting an average of nearly 39 points per season during his 11 year career.
While this may cause a great deal of head scratching, this signing gives them some much needed depth at RW. I hadn't really noticed it before, but take a look at their corps of right wingers:

  • Jeff "Public Urination" O'Neill. Like almost everyone else down here, I turned on this guy big time. Before you get mad at me, it's not just about the DUI arrest. He had a breakout year in 1999-2000, scoring 63 points (more than double that of the previous year). He followed that with seasons of 67,64 and 61 points. However, in 2003-04, he played horribly all season and only scored 34 points. His play was characterized by sloppiness and laziness. His demeanor was characterized by apathy. He was beginning to be a really unhappy camper and was kind of vocal about it. The sudden death of his brother was indeed a tragedy, but the bright side is that it gave Jeff an excuse to get out of Carolina. I wish him well, but the Jeff O'Neill that I saw play in 2003-04 is not a very good player. He'll probably have 31-39 points for the Leafs.

  • Czerkawski. A solid pick-up. He had a decent season with a Swedish Elite club during the lockout, scoring 24 points in 46 games. His defensive game is a little suspect, but his offense is pretty good. He should score 36-44 points.

  • Alexei Ponikarovsky. Honestly, I've never heard of this player. He doesn't have very much NHL experience. What he does have that neither O'Neill nor Czerkawski has, is experience playing under Pat Quinn. His scoring isn't very impressive, but one thing that I like about him is that he's had a + rating in all but one season of playing hockey. This is either a testament to his ability to play a two-way game, a testament to his linemates, or perhaps a product of limited ice time. I honestly don't know. He should have 25-33 points.

  • Tie Domi. I've written about Domi before, and I would doubt that there's anybody anywhere other than Toronto who actually likes Domi. Sure, it's a tough racket being an enforcer, but he does it in a way that makes it easy to hate him. He works hard, but he doesn't have much of an offensive upside and he spends too much time in the box. He should have 16-24 points.

Beyond these four guys, their prospects at right wing are a couple of guys who have no NHL experience.

Assume that Czerkawski will make $1.2M. This puts their payroll at $40,377,600 with the salary of Brad Brown undisclosed. Something, obviously, has got to give. That figure includes the $5.627M for Owen Nolan, who was released "pending injury settlement". This is a situation that I don't understand one bit. In a very specific way, I don't understand whether the injury settlement would apply to the salary cap. I would guess not. In a more general way, I just don't understand how he can be asking for the full salary from the season that never was. That part of it makes no sense to me.

If Nolan is hard up for cash, why doesn't he just ask Ed Belfour if he can borrow one billion dollars? We know he's got it. Or at least, he had it in 1999.

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