When Mats Sundin opted not to void his no-trade clause last year, it was indeed a blow to the rebuilding process of the Toronto Maple Leafs. GM Cliff Fletcher had set up a deal that would have sent the all-time leading scorer in Maple Leafs’ history to the Montreal Canadiens, for 25 year old Christopher Higgins, 24 year old Mikhail Grabovski, and a 1st round pick. This would have been an enormous step forward for the future of the blue and white, however Mats declined the trade, arguing that he didn’t want to win the Stanley Cup as a rent-a-player. Mats recently signed a pro-rated $8.6 million deal for the remainder of the ’08-09 season with the Vancouver Canucks. Almost halfway through the season, it would seem very much that Sundin is a rent-a-player. And if he really wanted to win a championship, he could have taken a pay cut, and signed with a powerhouse team, instead of the rather mediocre Canucks (cough traitor cough).
Nevertheless, Sundin has never had a problem putting up points in his career, and should continue to do so out West. The Canucks say Sundin will be game-ready sometime in the beginning of January, and I predict that he’ll put up 15 goals and 25 assists for 40 points and a +5 rating over the remainder of the season. He is still available in more than a third of all fantasy leagues, so check the waivers and you may just find yourself a gem. He should help out the Canucks average powerplay, and may bump them up a spot or two in the standings. Just don’t look for the Canucks to upset the powerhouse Sharks or defending champion Wings come playoff time.
On the brighter side for the Leaf faithful, Justin Pogge looked solid in his first career NHL start tonight against the Atlanta Thrashers, stopping 19 of 21 shots to lead the Leafs to victory. If Burke does go ahead and deal Toskala, as many rumors have suggested he intends, Pogge would become a decent second fantasy option in the goaltending spot, as he will get the majority of starts for the remainder of ’08-09.