We did. The fans.
For the last year and a half, we’ve had a kid on our team with great wheels, a laserbeam of a wrist shot and sniper’s instincts and we haven’t even been permitted to enjoy him. The fustercluck that has been these past two seasons has meant that we don’t get to look at the things we have because of all the attention given to what we paid.
This is a guy who was projected to go first overall in his draft year, slipped to fifth, but still projects as a 40-goal scorer with flash and dash and someone who could maybe even hit 50. There’s no evidence that Seguin or whoever comes this year will be able to match that. This isn’t some declining asset. It’s a young player who has already scored 49 goals as a Leaf in a year and a half and isn’t even at his peak.
Years ago, we paid a really heavy price to get a young center in Ed Olczyk. Steve Thomas, a personal favourite, former captain Rick Vaive and tough d-man Bob McGill all went to Chicago for Eddie O and a mostly-done Al Secord. Vaive still had a 40-goal season in him. Thomas was solid for the next 15 years. McGill found his niche. Yet there was never this constant watch on what those players were doing. We watched instead as this young player blossomed into our top-line centre.
I don’t know if the difference is that we knew who those players were and the draft picks are still a mystery. I do know that there isn’t a Lindros coming this year, just like there wasn’t last year. At worst, we gave up fair value. Not every trade has to be a clear win. We got a good piece. Enjoy it.