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