Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brian Burke continues to spin the roulette wheel

The constantly changing Leaf roster changed some more today. By now everyone know that the Leafs signed Christian Hanson of the famous Hanson hockey lineage. If he dresses for a Leaf game this weekend he will be the 39th player to suit up for the Leafs this season.

There is speculation that the Leafs will go after several other high profile U.S. collegiate players. Although only a small number crack NHL lineups the risks are low. As free agents there is no need to use up a draft pick, they tend to be cheap unless they are too old to qualify for an entry level contract.

The collective agreement only allows teams to have 50 players signed to a standard NHL contract (minor league players are included). The Leafs had made room for themselves by putting Mark Bell and Stefan Kronwall on waivers. Trading Nik Antropov and Dominic Moore brought their roster of players down futher. However, since then they signed Jeff Hamilton (from the AHL), Alex Berry (a 2005 draft pick), Jay Harrison (from Switzerland), Erik Reitz (claimed off waivers from the Rangers), Martin Gerber (claimed off waivers from the Senators) and now Hanson. My understanding is that players out for the season (Vesa Toskala, Olaf Kolzig, and Jamie Heward) don't count.

So when I finish counting all the bodies it adds up to 48 players. That means that Burke can sign 2 more bodies and assign them to either the Leafs or the Marlies. Mind you they are allowed to sign free agents to post-dated contracts under the collective agreement. Since the Leafs have at least a dozen contracts ending on June 30, they could sign more players but not be able to use them this season. Meanwhile the guy who puts the names and numbers on sweaters has been kept very busy.