On a day when the Blue Jays swapped shortstops and the Raptors finalized the Hedo Turkoglu-for-Leandro Barbosa deal, Brian Burke and the Maple Leafs weren’t content sitting on the sidelines.
The Leafs made their move on Toronto’s Acquisition Wednesday, dipping back into the European talent pool to sign 22-year old German winger Marcel Muller to a two-year entry-level deal. The 6’2” Muller is – stop me if you’ve heard this one before – a big, bruising, ‘truculent’ forward with a nasty edge. While playing with the Cologne Sharks of the German Elite League last season, he put up major penalty minutes (122 in just 53 games) but also led the team in game-winning goals (six), power play goals (eight) and assists (32).
The Leafs now boast the two youngest members of the 2010 German Olympic team – Muller, who was 21 at the time of the Games, and defenceman Korbinian Holzer, who was 22.
Burke, who called Muller a “projected top-six winger with size” pointed to the big man’s rapid development over the past two years as reason for optimism that he will blossom with the Buds.
I realize that I never commented on last week’s signing of defenceman Brett Lebda, a signing which could solidify the team’s defensive corps for this year and others to come.
The smooth, puck-moving left-hander, who signed in Toronto for two years and $2.9 million, will enter training camp at no higher than fifth or sixth on the team’s depth chart, based largely on his lack of minutes during his time on deep Red Wings squads and the wealth of Leafs d-men with NHL experience. However, he could quickly move up the ranks as a player who is responsible in his own end but can get involved offensively and potentially serve as a power play quarterback.
While Lebda may not have the size of physical edge to be effective for 20+ minutes per night, he likely won’t be asked to on a team that also boasts Dion Phaneuf, Luke Schenn, Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek, Carl Gunnarsson and, for now, Tomas Kaberle.
All in all, this was a noteworthy signing that deserved more that the brief, late coverage I’ve given it.
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Written by Ben Fisher