When they’re not participating in some kind of organized crime, the Leafs are attempting to stock pile young talent and failed experiments from other teams to aid their re-build. So in that sense, Thursday was just another day.
But in a very real sense–the kind of sense that makes your feet rumble–the acquisition of forward Fabian Brunnstrom from Dallas was Earth-shattering. Being based in the epicentre of Leafs Nation–as we are here at The Score–amplifies each and every roster move, and makes some of the other fine bastions of journalism around town do fun things with Photoshop.
The Leafs acquired the enigma that is Brunnstrom in exchange for prospect and Belarusian winger Mikhail Stefanovich, who was the Leafs’ 98th overall pick in 2008 and is currently playing in the KHL. The Stars clamoured for Brunnstrom in a 2008 bidding war, and were initially rewarded on their investment. The 25-year-old had a respectable rookie season, scoring 17 goals and 29 points over 55 games.
Then it was all downhill, and it was steep hill. During the 2009-10 season Brunnstrom had just two goals over 44 games, and he spent this season with the Stars’ AHL affiliate in Texas. He’s been adequate at a lower level, but still failed to truly thrive and has 11 goals over 37 games with Texas.
He’ll go from one AHL home to another, with Brian Burke telling the Globe and Mail that Brunnstrom will report to the Marlies. How he fares with Toronto’s other hockey team will determine how long it takes for Brunnstrom to see the ice at the Air Canada Centre.
Potential is a fine item to be the focus of crosshairs on a bargain hunting trip. If Burke’s goal was to acquire a player with plenty of upside and little financial risk, then mission accomplish. Brunnstrom comes with a one-way contract worth $675,000.
Dallas general manager Joe Nieuwendyk was well aware of Brunnstrom’s potential, but said that like so many before him the young forward’s career path had taken him down a road where a change of scenery was the right tonic.
“He’s a big, strong kid with top-six skill level, but he wasn’t going to get that chance in our organization with James Neal and Jamie Benn playing ahead of him. It’s a very good deal Toronto. Maybe a fresh start is what he needs.”
Burke added that Brunnstrom provides depth, and an “NHL-skill level call-up” if needed.