Could Jason Arnott and Jamie Langenbrunner Be On Brian Burke’s Radar?

April 30th, 2012 9 Comments

With rumors swirling around the internet and the daily rags about Roberto Luongo’s future with the Vancouver Canucks and a possible trade to the Toronto Maple Leafs, I couldn’t help but think back to last summer’s UFA signings and how they panned out for their respective teams.

Sure, big trades and big signings are what drives the headlines, but what about the smaller, less sexy moves? How do they fit into the equation?

While not the most popular signings, sometimes a teams depth moves prove to be the best ones of the off-season, which brought to mind two players for me.

The players in question would be a pair of veterans who, while probably well past their prime, have made invaluable contributions to the St. Louis Blues organization, throughout the regular season and the playoffs.

Known for their leadership and maturity as much as their skills, both Jason Arnott (37) and Jamie Langenbrunner (36) signed similar one-year deals with the St. Louis Blues last summer.

Neither one was signed with the intention of playing top-six minutes, but the Blues management knew that either one could be relied upon to step up should one of their regulars succumb to injury or fall into a slump.

Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Arnott has a unique combination  of size (6’5” and 220 pounds) and speed which has served him well over his 17-year career.

To date, Arnott has 1244 regular season games under his belt, notching 417 goals and 521 assists for a total of 938 points. Arnott also brings 121 career playoffs games to the table, earning 32 goals and 41 assists for a total of 73 career playoff points—and counting.

Known for his scoring prowess early on in his career, Arnott has evolved into an effective two-way player who has only been a minus player three times since the 1998-99 season.

Adding to his already impressive resume, Arnott won a Stanley Cup with the New Jersey Devils, served as the Nashville Predators Captain from 2007 through 2010 and knows what it takes to be a winner.

Comparatively, Langenbrunner was selected by the Dallas Stars in the second round (35th overall) of the same 1993 NHL Entry Draft as Arnott was selected.

At 6’1” and 202 pounds Langenbrunner has etched out a tremendous NHL career, serving mostly as a defensive forward, who also has some offensive punch.

Through 1,105 career regular season games Langenbrunner has registered 243 goals and 419 assists for a total of 662 points. Langenbrunner also brings 143 playoff games to the table, notching 34 goals and 53 assists for a total of 87 career playoff points.

Langenbrunner, a two-time Stanley Cup winner, served as the New Jersey Devils captain from 2007 through 2011 and was the captain of 2010 United States Olympic Hockey Team.

Clearly, after looking at both of these players’ resumes there are many parallels that can be drawn. Both Langenbrunner and Arnott bring a measure of Longevity, leadership, professionalism and respect from their peers to any NHL organization.

As such, aren’t they exactly the type of players that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke should be looking to sign this summer?

One of the major contributors to the Maple Leafs woes last season was a lack of leadership. Burke knows it, the players know it and after a cup of coffee behind the bench, head coach Randy Caryle knows it.

When Burke was asked about the possibility about bringing in a veteran to help Captain Dion Phaneuf out in the leadership department at the seasons end presser Burke lamented that he may have to go that route.

While it may be a stretch for Burke to sign both Langenbrunner and Arnott, adding one of these forwards would be a huge step in the right direction and likely supply Phaneuf with some relief in the leadership department.

Not only would Arnott and/or Langenbrunner address the lack of leadership on the Maple Leafs roster, they could also mentor the likes of Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner and Luke Schenn—all of whom are in need of some tutelage in some shape or form.

Depending on the amount of interest Arnott and Langenbrunner garner from NHL clubs Burke could be looking at upwards of $3 million for either one of these players. While Burke’s budget is expected to be tight this summer, a $3 million investment in either one of these players could pay huge dividends and bring the Maple Leafs the leadership this team so clearly needs.

Yes, Burke needs to upgrade his goaltending and he could use another shut down defenseman and the forwards are in need of a re-tooling, but without the proper direction and leadership, what has Burke got?

A Langenbrunner or Arnott signing may not sell a lot of newspapers, but it says here it may be the smartest thing Burke does this summer.

Until next time,



  1. Hudson says:

    Nice piece, and definitely not the sort of insight you see on the main websites til it happens. I think these guys would be great value for our buds. And I think I heard both Burke and Dudley saying they lack on or two veteran leader influences. Nice eye, Mark. Anyone else you see who is comparable along these lines?

  2. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey Hud—

    Shane Doan certainly comes to mind, but I have a hard time thinking Phoenix will let him go—he seems like a lifer to me.

  3. Hudson says:

    Doan is a good player…

    I heard on the radio as I turned it on this afternoon, that Phaneuf was named assistant captain, and that Getzlaf was named captain. My heart jumped! I thought we made a big move…

  4. Jake says:

    The Leafs surly need some leader ship and there are several free agents that fit the needs as depth players Ray Whitney is another . I really think Burke has his sights set on Zack Parise but after that who knows since there will e other players offered up in trades for the right deal . The Leafs need tougness as well as leadership and both orders will be hard to fill in one summer not to mention the goalie dilema TO has .
    Jordan staal may be on the move to as he is stuck behind Crosbie and Malkin playing 3rd line center in Pittsburg .

  5. Mark Ritter says:

    Hey jake-

    Whitney doesn’t bring the jam Arnott and Langenbrunner do. For that reason, I am not as keen on whitney. as for Staal, he ain’t going anywhere IMHO…Peace!

  6. Dave says:

    I’d might take also take a look at Rolston for a $1 mil closeout year deal and possibly believe it or not I’d look at Souray as well.

  7. Xalvion says:

    I have a tendancy to read an article before I read the byline. Inevitably, by the time I reach the end, I have a pretty good idea of who the author is, based on how well or how stupidly it’s written. When I finished this one, I said to myself, “I bet this was Ritter.”

    Yep. As always, nice work, Mark.

    It’s been demonstrated, over and over again and in sport after sport, that big-name FAs don’t work out nearly as often as their high cost would lead one to hope. Sure, there is the odd big splash that works out, but far more often they fall flat. Strictly from the point of view of a cost/reward analysis, the types of signings you describe here are the way to go.

  8. MarkRitter says:

    Thanks man! And I agree. The big fish often flops, or has a tough time adjusting to his new role. There are exceptions like Richards in NY, but there are far too many FA’s that fail to deliver…Mike Komisarek anyone? Jeff Finger?…I digress!

  9. Dave says:

    Yep, but I think the only one worth going after is worth the gamble and is little risk to flop like so many do (and I totally agree with UFA’s being overrated and turning into flops). In fact I think the ideology behind FA is a NHL and partially PA agenda driven item and not really supported by the players.

    Having said that, I would give the bank to Parise, but I would put him into a 5 year deal in the range of 33 million. This guy is as sloe to the real deal as therer is. Imagine him Kessel and Loops on a top line? Its a no brainer dude. We’ve discussed stratedies to get this done and I’m sure Burke and his exec and way ahead of the curve on this one to get it to fit and make some other significant moves as well.

    My 2cents and crystal ball predicition.


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