Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Last Peca post ever. Really.

Peca reportedly had a three-year offer for $7.5 million US to return to Long Island, but he and Isles captain Alexei Yashin don't have a great history. Instead, Peca took the Leafs' one-year pitch, in large part because of proximity to his Buffalo home and the chance to play for the team he grew up watching.

That's Hall-of-Famer Jim Matheson in the Edmonton Journal. So Peca accepted a one-year deal when he could have had three -- fine, that's for his own reasons, the beauty of unrestricted free agency. But have we heard any reason why the Leafs were only offering a 1-year deal? Besides the option on Sundin, the Leafs don't have a single forward under contract for over $1M beyond this season. If signing Peca is a good idea right now (while the Leafs are getting tight to the cap), why isn't it a good idea for 2 or 3 years? Two suggestions:
  1. JFJ doesn't actually like Peca that much, he's just signing him as a sop to local fans and media (i.e. "They'll thank me in June")
  2. JFJ is under strict orders from MLSE not to make any more deals that impact the cap for his successor beyond this season
Either of these seem plausible. If your view of JFJ's analytical powers is at all favourable, then you have to believe it's #1. As David Johnson notes in his Leafs Off-Season Report, the Leafs' biggest problem last season, besides their goaltending, was that "they struggled to score goals at even strength". True: they were 27th in the NHL in ES scoring last season.

So anyway, there were 293 forwards who played more than 60 games in the NHL last season. Try to guess what these 11 fellows have in common:
Adam Hall, Curtis Brown, Blair Betts, Mark Rycroft, Donald Brashear, Serge Payer, Mike Ricci, Brian Savage, Kirk Maltby, Jed Ortmeyer, Ryan Johnson

Give up? They were the only 11 of those 293 who scored at Even Strength at a worse rate than Peca's 0.92Pts/60min. I know he's from the area, but this...
The two parties have been courting each other for well over a week with both camps agreeing Toronto is a good fit for the 11-year NHL centre.

...is pretty dubious. The Flames are probably the only NHL team that needed a guy with Peca's statistical profile less than the Leafs.

Fun small-sample-size statistical window from Vic at IOF back on March 29: in February and March, a span of 19 games, Peca was on the ice for a grand total of one goal for at even strength, despite taking a regular shift. The good news? He was only on for 4 ES GA. As Vic concluded, "You might as well just go get a beer when Peca starts a shift. :D"

This isn't to say he's a "not at any price" guy. His hands/touch are probably above average, as evidenced by his success on faceoffs and breakaways (he was also 2-for-5 in the Shootout, which is a lot better than the Leafs 4-for-24 last year). He can skate like hell, and he is legitimately and consistently strong defensively.

But his internal motivation is pretty, uh, variable; he never makes plays because he always gets rid of the puck before lifting his head; and he is simply not productive (and hasn't been in years). I hope Leafs fans love Clark Wilm, because they now essentially have two of him, and if you think I'm exaggerating, just wait...

Barely-related postscript: I found this laugher on NHL.com. Spot the misdirection:
Peca is a 12-year NHL veteran. He sat out the 2000-01 season after taking a low hit in the previous season's playoffs that badly damaged his knee.

I suppose the word "after" makes this strictly true; just don't take it to mean "as a result of". Lastly, same article -- this one's for you, Oiler fans:
His 616 penalty minutes are mostly divided between standing up for himself and taking penalties on plays that might lead to goals. He knows the difference between a "good" penalty and a bad one.

Ohhhh, mercy.


When the Oilers said "We're going to turn Mike Peca into the scoring centre we need," a lot of people laughed at Kevin Lowe. They're entitled to pat themselves on the back: they were totally right to laugh. But because of the organization's other strengths (i.e., patience with guys like Horcoff, relative skill at choosing and deploying defencemen), we didn't need offence from Peca in the early part of the season as much as might have been expected.

To put it as kindly as possible, I don't think the Buds have this kind of margin for error. Peca thought his life was miserable here when he couldn't hit the net? JFJ thinks it's a good idea to sell this guy as a replacement for Lindros??

It's almost like they made it a one-year deal because they know the results are going to be massively ugly.

not oiler news, but I also just read that Niel Smith and the Islanders are parting ways... weird

JFJ isn't selling Peca as a replacement for Lindros, that is all the media. And it is a bad sell.

Another option why the deal is for only one year, is to see how Peca plays, make him earn the higher salary he probably believes he is worth, then offer an extension. Like you noted about not having any big$ forwards signed beyond this year, Peca squeezes under the cap this year, and if he earns it, gets a nice 3 year deal when there is room under the Leafs' cap. Hopefully.

Its probably a one year deal so the Leafs can fill their goal of letting every kid who grew up watching them play at least one season for 'Canada's team' (that's a phrase my mother once used which caused my brother (a Habs' fan) and myself (a Flames' fan) to break out into hysterics) near the end of their careers...


Wow. I'd forgotten that Peca was traded for Pyatt and Connelly and in the same week as that crazy Yashin trade, too (which included Chara and a pick that became Spezza).

Imagine how good the 2005-2006 Islanders could have been.

JFJ isn't selling Peca as a replacement for Lindros, that is all the media.

That's not remotely the impression I get, and even if it were true, you'd have to have Down's syndrome and a bad head cold not to anticipate the media reaction. And, after all, someone has to be the Leafs' number-two centre.

Hee hee hee. I mean, um, yeah.

I didn't think NHL.com could write stuff like that. Aren't they supposed to be objective?

Finally, apparently, this blog is linked from the Wikipedia article of the same name. Weird.

I doubt this'll be the last Peca post. If he repeats last years performance next year you won't be able to resist pointing and laughing at Toronto.

Not that I blame you.

"That's a phrase my mother once used which caused my brother (a Habs' fan) and myself (a Flames' fan) to break out into hysterics"...

What's hysterical is the fact that so many Leafs fans still make it into your buildings when the Leafs are playing your teams.

Alot of people may love to hate them, but you can't deny the fact that their fans are everywhere in this country...

I can't deny that there are weeds in my backyard, either, but that doesn't make me a goddamn dandelion farmer.

Considering that two months ago Toronto's 3rd and 4th defenceman were rookies, their starting goalies were two AHL'ers, their second line centre couldn't outskate Brad Marsh, and they didn't have a legitimate defensive/faceoff specialist... I'd say they did all right this summer.

Kudos to The Score for being the first outlet I've seen to point out the past bad blood between Peca and his new teammate Darcy Tucker.

I thought it was Peca that had the thing with Tucker. Man, I'd love to see their first practice together.

(A) We must monitor different media Abboud; I heard mention of that going back at least a week

(B) The "low hit" referenced in the NHL.com quote in the piece was indeed Tucker.

(C) New & Improved Leafs = 13th Place in the Eastern Conference. If five-o or someone doesn't like it, come back and taunt me when they're well in a playoff spot.

Is it your contention that JFJ was allowed to ink a bunch of D to long-term deals, but not one (more) forward?

You could more easily make the argument that it was Peca who would have preferred a one-year deal, hoping that by playing all of 06/07 the way he did in the playoffs he could get rid of the stain of last year's regular-season and then get a nice pay spike and longer-term deal from someone.

Anyway, the Leafs sucked at getting ES goals last year, but were perfectly fine overall thanks to the PP. If the trend continues, the league will not see a great decrease in penalties called, so the Leafs can quite reasonably expect to maintain their position in GF. They were bottom-third of the league in GA; the gamble in goal, the D signings, and signing a good defensive forward should improve that stat. Score more or allow fewer ... JFJ seems to have gone with the latter for next year.

It worked so well for Calgary, after all ...

Cosh, your impression would be remote up in Edmonton (zing!), but you're on the money about anticipating the media's reaction; most of that lot is quite predictable.

I just think the distinction is an important one. The media has been trying to lynch JFJ for some time now, spinning tales of 'Who will replace our 33 games played juggernaut?' and the like. Contrived hogwash, I say.

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