Salmelainen a Leaf

The 1999 draft was the last draft I followed without the benefit of a bunch of other prospect nuts at HF. By 2000 (or thereabouts) I was reading some pretty impressive stuff by various posters (mostly Oiler guys, but there were others) and was well informed enough to know the Oil needed to draft Jarret Stoll (and they did, 2 years later).

I thought the 1999 draft would be a watershed. TWO Finns is almost too much me to hope for in an Oilers draft, and Rita looked all world. Salmelainen was too small I knew, but he was a guy to cheeer for but pretty much from the start was pegged as a second tier guy (behind the mammoth talents like Rita, Semenov, Comrie).

These 8 years later 4 terrific talents have turned into one (Comrie), with one other having an NHL contract (Semenov) and hanging on for dear life on the left coast, the other in Finland ripping up his league with league best goal scoring totals, and the other one getting traded about once a week.

Today it looks like Tony Salmelainen has landed in Toronto, and I think it might be a very nice place for him. Toronto has 3 guys making 5M each on the blueline and some high paid forward talent, so they need players at a really good price and it looks like Salmelainen has a chance at a roster spot this fall.

When he last played in the NHL (06-07, two teams ago), Salmelainen was putting up nice numbers (relative to team) at EV/60 (here’s the Hawk list) :

  1. Havlat (2.83)
  2. Hamilton (2.25)
  3. Salmelainen (1.89)
  4. Ruutu (1.83)
  5. Vrbata (1.78)
  6. Sharp (1.59)
  7. J Williams (1.46)
  8. R Bourque (1.36)
  9. Alexeev (1.26)
  10. M Lapointe (1.19)
  11. M Holmqvist (1.14)
  12. Arkipov (1.04)

and getting very little PP time. I think he could help the Toronto Maple Leafs, and if he ends up getting enough minutes it would not surprise me in the least if he put up better boxcar numbers than Robert Nilsson (whose NHL points-per-60 is about 1.56).

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24 Responses to "Salmelainen a Leaf"

  1. Jonathan says:

    As I read it, Toronto has 11 forward spots locked down, with Devereaux, Tlusty, Pohl, Kulemin, Belak and Salmeleinen competing for the remaining two or three. Assuming Tlusty and Kulemin need a bit more seasoning, as seems likely, Salmeleinen ought to be able to secure a spot as a spare forward.

  2. Lowetide says:

    jonathan: Yeah, agreed. Blue skying things, if he ever developed some chemistry with Sundin, say on the pp….

  3. Bank Shot says:

    If the Leafs only carry 13 forwards Salmeleinen might be SOL.

    Pohl is a Maurice man from the coach’s Marlies days and Belak is the only thing resembling toughness on the roster.

    That would probably leave Salmeleinen and Devereaux jockeying for injury call-up duty.

  4. Ribs says:

    Boy did Tony ever look good in that Hawks jersey.

    I put him in the category with Fredrik Pettersson in that they might just come back and bite the Oilers in the ass one day.

  5. Jonathan says:

    Given that Devereaux had 8 goals and 19 points in only 33 games, to go along with a +4 rating (way better numbers, oddly enough, than he had in the AHL), Salmeleinen would need to have quite a camp to beat him. Hopefully the Leafs carry 14 forwards. Also, given that the Montreal Canadiens bought out Salmelinen’s contract, the Oilers won’t be the only team with sore backsides if he turns into gold.

  6. uni says:

    Boyd just ran into a lot of good fortune when he got called up. And he sure showed a lot of hustle, I really hope he can stick, and be useful much like Kilger has become a solid serviceable NHL player.

    Belak wouldn’t be hurt by sitting for half of the games, or hurt the team much. I don’t think the Leafs will worry too much considering the size of their team. If Tony can do what Boyd did…yowsa.

    I’m pulling for the guy either way.

  7. jon says:

    As a bit of an update, Gagner is the tourney leading scorer for the Superseries now, with 7 points with 3g, 4a in 4 games. He seems to have gotten quite a bit more icetime today than in previous games.

  8. Vic Ferrari says:

    Good fit for Salmelainen, that’s a team of giants that needs a bit of quickness I think. Him and Blake are good fits in that regard. And wow, the money they paid the nearly 34 yr old Jason Blake is just nuts, I like the player, but damn!

    Salmelainen’s a guy that just keeps covering the bet at every level. I checked the stats just now and it turns out Torres and Stoll were both ahead of him in their year in the AHL in terms of 5v5 outscoring, which contradicts my memory a bit, I thought he edged out the latter. Still, solid numbers as a difference maker, and against a good level of comp in thqat league if the numbers are to be believed.

    Plus he’s a ballsy little player. Surely that wears him down, but you have to admire the courage.

    As someone who has drank with the Finns on May Day, I will brutally generalize by telling you that this is typical, this vicious courage and questionable sanity. I love these cats so much.

    Got to give Ferguson credit for filling the forward ranks with useful players on reasonable coin. It’s a shame he’s saddled himself with the McCabe, Kaberle and Kubina contracts, because he’s an interesting GM right now.

  9. Vic Ferrari says:

    Just to add, props to Dennis for inventing the word “outscoring”. It’s a good word, I google it every month or so.

  10. Black Dog says:

    Interesting point about JFJ, Vic. The guy makes all kinds of good moves at the bottom of the roster and the Leafs are starting to see some young talent bubble up. Two seasons ago he gave Allison and Lindros shots – good cheap gambles. They didn’t work out but good moves just the same, imo. Also I believe the Blake move was a good one, even though its a lot of coin. And, finally, the Kaberle contract was a good one, I think. That guy makes their offence go. You don’t like him?

    But then he gives big contracts to McCabe who is a rich man’s Souray, as well as Kubina, as you pointed out. And the trade for Raycroft was goofy, doubled by the fact that he gave him a three year deal. Throw in the exact same move for Toskala a year later and the Perrault trade and it just seems he is hit and miss.

    Politics at MLSE are unbelievable though. Wonder what he would do with a professional organization.

  11. Vic Ferrari says:


    I like McCabe more than you, he plays against the other team’s best players a lot.

    I remember the year of the Flames cup finals run, Flames fans dissing Sopel and Hatcher … I was out of TV range for most of those series (and probably wouldn’t have watched them anyways ) and though I’ve never checked, I always just assumed that those guys had the Iginla gig. I wasn’t so much that they were bad as that the opoosition was a bit good.

    Same thing happens to McCabe a lot I think. And McCabe, just generally, is hard to like, so that probably factors in too, I dunno.

  12. Black Dog says:

    Definitely an unlikeable guy which of course plays into it.

    My issue with McCabe (and I’ll give you the fact that he plays hard minutes) is that he makes a lot of bonehead mistakes. Basic stuff too – ill advised passes up the middle of the ice, suddenly leaving his man in front of the net to drift over to the opposite corner. The seires they lost against Philly right before the lockout he was just awful. Coughing up the puck, falling down, bad penalties, the whole gamut.
    And last season when Kaberle went down for an extended period he produced absolutely nothing on the PP. Of course the same could be said about the entire team. But he was lost out there.

  13. uni says:

    “It’s a shame he’s saddled himself with the McCabe, Kaberle and Kubina contracts…”

    Ditto what BDHS said. I think there are 29 teams in the NHL that wouldn’t mind being ‘saddled’ with Kaberle’s contract…provided of course they’re not up against the cap.

    The one aspect of JFJ’s tenure that bugs me no end (the massive contracts not withstanding, but he took a stance that UFA D-men were going to be a premium in the new CBA and went out and locked some up, ugh) is the Raycroft for Rask deal.

    I mean couldn’t you just trade a 2nd round pick and some other ballast for him? Sign Legace? I can see it now, Rask emerging as the next Kiprusoff with a Lethonen type start (without injuries) and facing off against the Leafs 8 times a year.

  14. Black Dog says:

    That whole deal stunk to high heaven. The justification was that they had two high end goalie prospects. Well, you don’t now, and there is no guarantee that either will turn out.

    Then they give Raycroft a nice contract.

    Then, a year later, they go out and get Toskala, who has looked pretty good but never proven himself as a #1.

    And they give him a nice contract.

    It would be like the Oilers addressing their need for some offence from the blueline by signing Tarnstrom and trading for Pitkanen and then giving Souray a ridiculous contract. Such a ridiculous scenario would never happen because it would essentially indicate that the man at the top had no plan.

    Wait a second ….

  15. rickibear says:

    Bdhs: You miss one point with your view. Only one goaltender can be played in a game. Two number 1 1/2’s is a little off. We use 6 defenceman in a game. All three can be used.

  16. Black Dog says:

    rickibear – no argument with that point, except the Oilers now have nine D, including one who will likely be lost on waivers if they send him down

    they also need a scorer to play in the top six, still, and with Souray’s contract they have no wiggle room to acquire anyone of any use, imo

    Paying 5 million per for five years for a guy who struggled as part of the second pair in Montreal makes absolutley no sense. He had a terrific year on the PP, no doubt. It was also by far a career year.

    I was behind the Vanek move. I can get behind the Penner move.

    The only thing Souray does is give the Oilers credibility, as in “see, a big free agent will sign here”; there is value in that, yes, but five mill per for a guy who would likely best be on the third pair is not part of any plan that makes any sense to me. Not when Tarnstrom is already there to play on the third pair and is a valid man to run a PP, as he did quite well in Pittsburgh.

  17. rickibear says:

    BDHS: Souray had me a little nervous.
    After the Defensive group we had last year. I was nervous about Kevins choice of Dmen.

    Then I realized the D aproach last year was a mistake in philosophy not selection.
    You have to admit the performances of Hedja and Tjarnquist when they were healthy indicates Klowe knows D talent.

    I respect your concern in the offensive approach to D men but
    All three are a fit.

    Pitkanen was brought in to be our 1st pr LD with puck “carrying” ability other scouts use the reference “not since coffey”.

    Souray is a physical 2nd or 3rd D that is elite on the PP and equal to Tjarnquist or Smith on the PK. He will play soft EV. But Huddy does work majic.

    Tarnstrom was hard not to grab w/ his performance in Europe and at the world Championship. Plus the 1 Yr contract fits perfect when they role Gilbert or Chorney into the D full time next year.

    Grebeshkov was paired with Ulanov in Yaroslav. A mid season pick up of him says something about the teams thought on him.

    I wonder if we dont start with 8 Dmen at the start of the year.

    Dan Tencer’s Aug 23 630 CHED Interview with KLOWE provides alot of hints.

    PS: TO let you know about ticket demand. Last year I was the third level of priority draw For mini pack tickets and still had choices of three tickets together on day two.

    Two hours into this years ticketmaster free for all my only choice for two tickets together was the gold section. 1st Row next to the Oilers box. 2 X $1300 for 6 Games. I had to buy or not be on next years selection list. It terrible for watching the game but my three year old will get to see his “Oilers Oilers Oilers not yukky Flames.”
    This team is not hurting for money.

  18. rickibear says:

    Was not signed to be on the PP or PK. He was offered a two way contract with the sole goal of having him establish himself as the 2nd line LW option. He has a chance with the left wing options on the leafs. Samelianan, Wellwood, and Tucker would be a good second line.

  19. uni says:

    Samelianan, Wellwood, and Tucker would be a good second line.

    The only thing about that would be three realtively very small players on the same line. I’d think they’d mix it up a bit. Kilger, Bell, Ponikarovsky, and Antropov do give you some size options, all of whom can chip in a bit offensively, albeit some more than others.

    As for Souray, I think it might be 5.4 million per year, what they offered Smyth…kinda eats at you when you ask the question of what you’d rather have for 100K more.

    I don’t remember Souray being as bad defensively as people make him out to be, at least no more than Hall Gill. Both of their achilles is speed. Gill is useful in his role, and the PK. I like to think of Souray as a Hall Gill who can play on the PP. Is that worth 4 million dollars more? Who am I to say…I’m no GM.

  20. rickibear says:

    Uni: I realized it is a small line but Tucker is allowed to take liberties when near the boards that lets him play bigger. Who do you put him with.
    Wellwood played 1st line with Sundin and was a point a game.
    Blake will be slotted 1st line LW.
    Ponikorovsky and Antropov worked well together.
    Stajan and Steen were good as well.
    With the shortage of right hand shots (Sundin, Wellwood, Pohl, & Salmelenin) maybe he slots 2nd or 3rd RW.
    Plus with Wellwood and Tucker coming off injuries RW is an even greater issue.
    Otherwise he is down in the Minors.

  21. Dennis says:

    I think Devo was playing some tough min for the Leaves as well. I know I watched a few of their games and he was just a buzzsaw out there. Heading into the summer I had him and Nichol pegged as potentially super-cheap outscorers but both guys re-upped with their old orgs for fuckall coin.

    TS is in tough in TO given that some of the other borderliners played for Maurice in the minors, but he’s always a guy that I liked when I saw him down here live in person in the A or even on TV. He’s small but he really doesn’t back down from anyone.

  22. Black Dog says:

    Thing with a guy like Devereaux too Dennis is this is a guy who looked like he was done – now he has a spot – considering its unlikely he would get big money anywhere he probably figures he’ll sign with who he knows rather then go to another org for 100-200K more, find out he’s on the outs and next thing you know he’s back in the minors.

    Nice pickup by T.O.

  23. Jonathan says:

    I don’t see Salmeleinen, Tucker and Wellwood forming a second line because I really don’t expect to see Jason Blake playing with Mats Sundin much this season (aside from PP). Given that Sundin is more than capable of shooting the puck, placing him on a line with a shoot-first player like Blake makes little sense. Putting Blake with Wellwood, on the other hand, makes really good sense, aside from the lack of size that the pair share.

  24. Dennis says:

    True enough on the devil-you-know bit, Pat. That’s one of those things that as soon as you hear it, it makes perfect friggin’ sense.

    As for Wellwood and Blake, one of those guys doesn’t play like a small guy but the other one does. I have no problem with the per annum part of the Albino’s deal but the last two years are gonna be sticky because of his age. Then again, if the NHL really does get a new US national TV deal with ESPN, and I think I read that it looks like a strong possibility for ’09, then the Leaves will have enough money that wasting a mill or two on Blake won’t kill them.

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