One day after Toronto Maple Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher placed 2nd line centerman Kyle Wellwood on waivers, the Vancouver Canucks claimed the rights to this soon-to-be restricted free agent. The Canucks now have to provide him with a qualifying offer before July 1st should they wish to retain his service for the coming season.Initial reactions to this are mixed across different forums, for Leafs fans, most suggests that they are glad the Canucks picked up their trash, while some wish him success in Vancity. As for the Canucks fans, most believe this to be an excellent free pick-up, getting a good playmaker who played on the Leafs top-line during Sundin’s injury for nothing. Other ‘nucks fans believe that Wellwood is out of condition, and with his passed groin injury as well as multiple surgery to his sports hernia, he is worth little to Vancouver, except taking a hit on the salary cap. Some speculate hidden problems with Wellwood, from the fact that no teams in the NHL are willing to trade him for anything. The following is what I wrote on the Canucks.com forum:
Think about what Toronto is doing, I mean it looks to me like Fletcher is on panic mode or something, I can understand some would think that Wellwood is overated and may not draw a lot of interest from teams in terms of trade (at least not a few days before Free Agency begins), but what about Darcy Tucker, what about Andrew Raycroft, are they of so little value that you cannot trade them for anything (a bag of pucks, anyone) ???
I think the problem is all about timing, for some reason, the Leafs want to do a clean-house before free agency begins, probably because they think that they will make a big splash or something. Think about it, Tucker, Wellwood or Raycroft in other times during a season would’ve drawn at least some interest in terms of trade, it’s just that at this very moment, their value is perhaps the lowest, since every other GM thinks that they have a chance at the big names in UFA. No-one would be interested to trade for “these” players, well…at least not this very moment.
So I think the Leafs are making huge mistakes by letting these players just walk for nothing (as I write this, I know Raycroft cleared waivers).