Quack Quack, Mr. Beauchemin
So, Burke made an unexpected trade today - well, all his trades are unexpected, really. Francois Beauchemin, the big-minute munching defenseman who has been paired with Dion Phaneuf ever since he came over from Calgary - was sent back to the team we signed him from in Free Agency. In return, the Leafs get Joffrey Lupul, prospect Jake Gardiner, and a conditional pick.
My gut reaction was that Beauchemin for Lupul was a bum trade. Lupul’s coming off a freaky back injury and has only played 24 games this season. While he’s scored 20 goals multiple times in his career, he’s also 27 and has been traded four times already. Fortunately, once I realized that Gardiner was the Ducks second best prospect (Hockeys Future updates real fast, so I have no link for you here) and saw LeBrun explain the conditions of that pick, I understood that was not the case.
Again, to be clear: If Lupul is on the roster for 40 or more games in 2012-13 with the Leafs, Toronto gets a 4th-round pick in 2013. If he’s NOT on Leafs roster for 40 or more games, Toronto gets a 6th-rounder from Anaheim.
So, the less Lupul plays for us, the better the pick is. Meaning, he was a salary throw-in. Beauchemin has only one year left on his contract, with his salary being just below his cap hit of $3.8 million. Lupul, on the other hand, has two years left on his contract with his cap hit and salary being an equal $4.25 million. The Ducks have a strict operating budget, so this Beauchemin trade makes them the salary winners, which is the type of trade I like seeing from the Leafs.
So that brings us to Jake Gardiner, who seems to be the true centerpiece of the trade. He was a 17th overall pick in 2008 - also known as the Luke Schenn draft. Not too shabby as far as pedigree goes - but we are now three seasons after the draft and he’s still playing in the NCAA. For a clearer picture I headed over to Anaheim Calling, where the Ducks fans were kind enough to point me to a couple of scouting reports on their site. Effortless skating and a heavy shot? Possible game changer? Count me in! Of course, given the rebuilding on D that Anaheim has seen the past few seasons, if he could really be a game changer I’d think he’d already be in the NHL. But a smooth skating, offensive defenseman is nice to have in the system, given the possibility of Kaberle walking this summer.
Overall, I’d say this is a fair trade. It’s a little worrisome to think of who will eat up Beauchemin’s minutes for the rest of this season, but with Schenn’s game seeing great improvement this year and Phaneuf’s level of play finally starting to rebound, there are options. Beauchemin was a classy player who took a lot of heat for playing in the hardest situations on the Leafs, and I think him for that. Hopefully, he’ll be happy back in the jersey he won a cup in. Best wishes, Francois.