Anthony Fusco The Hockey Writers
Blast From the Past: Three Forgotten Maple Leafs
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a proud and storied hockey club. The franchise is quickly approaching its hundred year mark, and through the decades the team has seen a multitude of different players pass through the dressing room to hit the ice. These talented individuals have made their way to the Maple Leafs through trades, drafting or even getting a promotion from the minors.
The Maple Leafs roster is always in a constant state of flux and change. Management is always making tweaks to try their best to improve the product on the ice. Because the team is different year after year, some players simply get lost in the shuffle. I decided to go back and comb the Leafs recent rosters for players that many fans may have forgotten.
Garnet Exelby, Defenseman
The Canadian defenseman started his career by being drafted 217th overall by the now defunct Atlanta Thrashers in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. He spent a sizeable chunk of time with the organization before being traded to the Maple Leafs on July 1st, 2010. Colin Stuart was also shipped to the Buds, who in return gave up Pavel Kubina and the rights to Tim Stapleton.
The big defenseman brought a physical style of play to the Leafs, but he only suited up for 51 games. He was able to put up a goal and three assists along with 73 penalty minutes in a Blue and White uniform. His time in Toronto was his last taste of NHL action, as he moved around to several AHL squads before playing this past year in Austria with Dornbirn EC.
Pavel Kubina, Defenseman
Continuing with the theme of defensemen, we arrive at Pavel Kubina. The big Czech defender was taken in the seventh round, 179th overall in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning. His first taste of the NHL came in the 1997-98 season where he suited up in 10 games for the Lightning.
His Maple Leafs career began July 1st, 2006 when he signed a four year deal with the Blue and White. Kubina stayed for three years and put up 40 points in both of 2007-08 and 2008-09. Statistically, those were his two best NHL seasons. After his Leafs career ended, Kubina bounced around to the Thrashers, Lightning and Flyers before signing in Switzerland. He announced his retirement from hockey December 20th, 2013.
Jonas Frogren, Defenseman
Frogren’s career started when he was selected by the Calgary Flames in the eighth round, 206th overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. On July 9th, 2008, the Swede signed a contract with the Maple Leafs that would see him remain with the club for two years.
His contract was actually disputed by the NHL because of his perceived status. The league believed that he was an entry level player because he never signed with Calgary. The Leafs on the other hand, argued that he was an unrestricted free agent. The NHL’s final decision was to fine the Maple Leafs $500,000 for paying Frögren the original contract as well as forcing them to forfeit their 2009 fourth round draft pick.
The Swedish defenseman had a very unremarkable career with the Leafs. He dressed for 41 games and put up one goal and six assists in that span. His next season was spent with the Marlies before he made a return to Europe where he played in the KHL. This past year was spent in the Swedish Hockey League playing for Leksands IF.
The constant shuffle of talent in the NHL is no joke. Teams are always trying to bring in the perfect players in order to optimize their rosters. The Maple Leafs are no exception. The fans may have forgotten the above players, but they are all bonded together by their time with the Blue and White, whether it was good or bad. It really goes to show just how much the Leafs grown over the years. If the Buds are going to succeed in the future, they must first learn from the past.
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