Leafs, Sweatt Remain Apart On New Deal


Just a month ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were the envy of the National Hockey League.  Having finished off the Philadelphia Flyers in six games courtesy of a Patrick Kane overtime goal, the Hawks had climbed to the top of the mountain, and had risen out of what could once have been considered obscurity years earlier, to build a winning team, and break the Stanley Cup drought that loomed over the franchise for so long.

And while many general managers stood in jealousy and envy of Stan Bowman and his management team for the feat they had just accomplished, not one GM was going to envying Bowman in the days following.

For the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup came at a price, and it was rather large.

Since they won the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks have made many moves, tearing down their roster that brought them their once elusive championship.  Fan favourites were shipped out in favour of draft picks and younger players, on cheaper contracts.

One of those trades involved Kris Versteeg, a trade Brian Burke was all too happy to accommodate.

Burke acquired Versteeg in a trade with the Blackhawks just prior to the opening of NHL free agency.  The Toronto GM, looking to make a move before the market opened, and the prices dramatically inflated, traded three prospects-Phillippe Paradis, Chris DiDomenico, and Viktor Stalberg-to Chicago for Versteeg, a swift skating forward with a great wrist shot.

Perhaps lost to some in that deal, was the inclusion of Bill Sweatt, his rights anyway, that came to Toronto along with Versteeg.  Sweatt, a forward at Colorado College, represents a player with speed to burn, seemed to really shift the balance of the deal, at least in the minds of Leafs Nation, and perhaps rightfully so.

Sweatt had 109 points in 143 games with Colorado College.

However, nearly two weeks after the trade went down, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been unable to reach an agreement with Sweatt and his representatives, something that while Burke has been quiet on, certainly has to worry him.

Sweatt’s agent was quoted as saying last week that while the Maple Leafs gave what they felt was a generous offer, the idea of going to unrestricted free agency may be too tempting.

And while we certainly aren’t fortunate enough to be privy to the negotiating process, how frustrating must it be for Burke to see the management team of Sweatt tell the public that the offer was generous, and yet still, his client has not signed it.

Perhaps like Nikolai Kulemin, the entire situation is being slightly blown out of proportion because of the city it is happening in.  Some fans I have spoken to have been quick to call Sweatt a prima-donna who overvalues himself, and doesn’t deserve to be calling his own shots this early into his professional career.

Others are more patient, agreeing that this is likely part of the negotiation process, and things will get worked out before the August 15th deadline.

At least, for the Leafs part, I hope so.

Sweatt is apparently drawing plenty of interest from teams around the league who would be interested in adding his services to their roster.  As far as the Maple Leafs are concerned, there has been no indication that they are out of the running for his services, and all signs point to the fact that they continue to work towards a deal as we speak.

Just like the argument that was made for Tyler Bozak and Christian Hanson, the same can be applied for Bill Sweatt.

While the on ice product in Toronto is certainly nothing to brag about, the current situation in Leafs land appears to be fitting for young players.

A new general manager, and plenty of playing time headline just part of the reasons why Toronto would be among the better fits in the league.  Sweatt could likely step into the Maple Leafs lineup next season, or at least be given every chance to do so.

And what can be made of the trade if the Leafs are unable to sign Sweatt, and he ends up siding with another franchise?  While we certainly won’t know for years which team won the deal per say, not being able to sign Sweatt, or losing him to another team, would seemingly tilt the deal further in the Blackhawks favour.

For their part, the Leafs involved in the deal were at the Blackhawks prospects camp, and all spoke very excitedly about getting to Chicago and carrying on the winning tradition that the Hawks have restored in the Madhouse.

Let’s hope for the Leafs sake, the players they acquired have similar designs, to restore a winning tradition to Toronto.

And let’s hope those players include Bill Sweatt