Hockey, Sports, The Campaign to Fire Brian Burke

The Campaign to Fire Dave Nonis: Ashton and Broll

It has been literally ages since I wrote one of these posts, in part because it’s so hard to fucking care any more and in part because, frankly, nothing has been done in some time. I mean, with the exception of firing Carlyle – the benefits of which have been documented well elsewhere – Nonis hasn’t done much lately. This move is pretty minor, but it points, perhaps, to something bigger (we can hope).

Lightning get:

Carter Ashton, 23, RW:

  • $0.851 million through this season
  • 0G, 3A for 3P, -12, 7:25 ATOI, in 54 games with the Leafs
  • 33G, 25A for 58P, +7 in 127 AHL games
  • AHL 82-game average: 21G, 16A for 37P, +5


David Broll, 22, LW:

  • $0.5975 million through 2016
  • 0G, 1A for 1P, +1, 8:11 ATOI in 5 NHL games with the Leafs
  • 3G, 13A for 16P, -14 in 84 AHL games


Leafs get:

Conditional 7th round pick.


I had a perhaps overly irrational reaction to the trade when we acquired Ashton for Keith Aulie. Aulie has struggled to stay in the big leagues and has not had a very good season this year as a depth D for the Oilers of all teams. (He might be hurt or just a healthy scratch.) But what I struggled with was why give up on someone who was supposedly a long-term project prospect for a guy, Ashton, who appeared to offer very little of anything. This is roughly similar to the point I made in my disastrously bad objection to the Schenn-JVR trade: if you are comparing two prospects of roughly the same age, and roughly similar pedigree, and one is a forward and one is a D, you are better off with the defender, all other things being equal (which they are not). I still believe this to be true, despite my epic mistake with the Schenn-JVR deal, and still regard the Ashton-for-Aulie trade as emblematic of the poor thinking on Burke’s part that led us to where we are today, even if the results have been utterly minor. (As an aside: the problem, I think, with the Schenn-JVR deal for Philly is that the league has changed and Schenn’s skill set is not so valuable any more; he’s just too damn slow. Had this deal been made with two identical players 10 years earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have been so damn wrong about it.)

Broll was acquired by the Leafs through the 2011 draft after a 7th-for-6th pick swap with Edmonton, with Edmonton receiving the Leafs’ 2010 7th rounder. He was playing mostly for the Leafs’ ECHL affiliate this season.

You might expect me to be mad about yet another more-for-less trade by Burke’s heir. After all, I have brought up this point over and over again: unless the fewer assets coming back are demonstrably better than the greater assets going away, you shouldn’t make these kinds of deals as assets are, indeed, things of value. Even more so now in our salary cap world.

But no, I actually think this is smart. And I’ll tell you why. The latest lockout further made the amount, value and term of the contracts a team has even more important than ever – the NHL is now similarly set up to the NBA. Space matters almost as much as players. And though this is obviously not a salary dump, the Leafs are giving up to totally inconsequential players for a minor pick and, far more importantly, open slots for future assets. The pick is pretty incidental, but the space may not be, given that the trade deadline fast approaches.

The deal suggests that Nonis has come to understand the new era we are in. Or at least someone on his staff does.

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