Leafs Trade for Another Hawk Blueliner
Boy oh boy, words like that get anyone leaning forward in their chair after what happened last year at this time. For those of you who have been on the planet Jupiter the Leafs dealt holdout Alexander Karpotsev to Chicago for Bryan McCabe who just kept getting better and better as the year progressed until he was arguably the best Leaf rearguard in the playoffs. However, this time, don’t expect the transaction to have the same amount of impact. Going to the Hawks was minor league tough guy Shawn Thornton while coming this way was Norfolk Admirals blueliner Marty Wilford. Thornton, despite numerous chances to overtake Tie Domi as the ACC’s resident tough guy, was never able to demonstrate enough skill to keep a job on the NHL level. Wilford, on the other hand, has a couple things going for him. Besides the fact that every organization should have at least one player with the name ‘Marty’, the ex-Hawk farmhand is quite adept at the transition game and is very good in the dressing room. He has been the best defensemen in the Chicago’s minor league pipeline whether it be with Norfolk or Indianapolis the last three years running and in his last campaign totalled 7 goals and 41 assists. If there is anything he does lack it is an NHL burst as far as separation is concerned. At 24 years old he looks to be another veteran hand to help the youngsters along on The Rock but if he proves himself efficient might leap ahead of Nathan Dempsey on the emergency call-up queue because of the extra 30 pounds he has on the long time Leaf. Come to think of it, if he does get a shot at the NHL level, given the fluidness of the bottom part of the Toronto rotation, it is not out of the realm of possibility that he could stick with the big club. It is certainly not probable, given the fact that long term solutions are seen in Karel Pilar and Petr Svoboda. But if the Leaf rearguards stumble, and those two don’t progress enough to turn up the heat on the bottom feeders of the blueline, Wilford could end up being ‘Marty on the spot’.
Farkas on the Rocks
Jeff Farkas has to be wondering what he has to do to make the cut on this team. Despite outperforming several of the more well-known veterans on this club including the man he was purportedly up against in Bob Wren, the former Boston College sniper was sent down to St. John’s two days ago in a move that must have some shaking their heads. However, there is more to this than meets the eye. First off there is the Hoglund factor. Everyone except Jonas it seems is aware that the left winger is on the top line for the sole reason of showcasing him for trade. Having #14 among the top six wingers meant that if Farkas was going to make this team it was going to be on the fourth line. Gary Roberts, Mikael Renberg, Alexander Mogilny, Nik Antropov and one of Travis Green, Shayne Corson, or Darcy Tucker had all but sewn up the other five spots, though Big Nik arguably so. Which brought up the Domi factor. Tie Domi, suspended for the first 8 games of the schedule opened up a spot on the bottom end of the rotation for someone to get an extra look. That meant a battle between Garry Valk, the odd man out in the Green, Corson, Tucker sweeps (one would center the third unit as well) Bob Wren and Farkas. Alyn McCauley had proved by his sterling pre-season that he definitely had earned the fourth line pivot’s role. At that point, the writing was on the wall. Better for Farkas to play 20 minutes in St. John’s and be ready for when Hoglund is finally moved to wherever, than play six minutes a night, lose confidence, and end up sitting in the pressbox the season lost.