Maple Leafs Sign Christian Chartier

By Randy Nicholson
Doubtless many Leafs fans were mildly disappointed when the team failed to execute a contract with North Bay’s Peter Reynolds prior to the June 1st deadline. Although the 1999 second rounder had largely underachieved throughout his OHL career, Reynolds had displayed solid physical and leadership skills at the Leafs’ Rookie Camp in Kitchener last fall. Many scouts still believe that Peter’s abilities are best suited to the professional game and that he will yet carve out a significant niche for himself in the years ahead.

Sometimes disappointment can be extremely short lived. On June 5th, the Maple Leafs used the funds that had previously been ear marked for the Reynolds contract in order to ink WHL Defender-Of-The-Year Christian Chartier from the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. The former 1999 Edmonton draftee failed to sign with the Oilers prior to the deadline and was an unrestricted free agent due to the fact that he was born in 1980 (December 29th). During the 2000/2001 season, the 6-1 ft. 215 lb. defender had truly blossomed, scoring 12 goals and 68 points in 63 games while also racking up 99 PIM. CSS reports indicate that Chartier is a smooth powerful skater, an excellent passer and a highly efficient finesse-based defender. The Maple Leafs now possess arguably the two best offensive blueliners from junior hockey last season – the other being Jon Zion of the Ottawa 67’s.

Afte.r this signing, complaints that the Maple Leafs had overpaid for Chartier were quickly overheard around the NHL. This criticism should be welcome news to all Maple Leafs fans. The organization clearly intends to use its considerable financial muscle to aggressively pursue available talent on the open market. If this same philosophy can be followed after July 1st (with NHL free agents), the interests of Leafs supporters everywhere will be very well served.