Last game for Lupul
As the work stoppage threatens to take out the entirety of the season, fans continue to express their frustration.
Nights without hockey have been quite bland, and the boredom will only magnify as the days go by. One of the things that Toronto Maple Leafs fans should pay attention to is that forward Joffrey Lupul may have played his final game as a Leaf.
Although he hasn’t played a game with Toronto since May, the lockout, if stretched throughout the season, would burn the final year on his contract and render him an unrestricted free agent.
Lupul is a player that generated a great deal of interest on the trade market, during the time the Leafs agreed to listen to offers last season. Trade offers which consisted of high-end players were directed at Toronto, in exchange for Lupul. The Leafs decided to hold on to him and benefit from his point production. Maybe signing him to an extension or trading him in a better deal.
The gritty forward managed to tally 67 points, having played in 66 games last season. His season was famed for playing exceptionally well with Leafs star Phil Kessel, and the over pressured Tyler Bozak. He gradually recovered from the injuries carried over from Anaheim, while recovering his point production at a faster pace.
The worry for the Leafs is that they could lose this player for virtually nothing in return. No transactions are allowed to be made during the lockout, so as the stoppage grows longer, time for negotiating a new extension or possible trade decreases.
Lupul has clearly become one of the most important players on the roster, and losing him for nothing would sting.
There are other players on the Leafs roster that also face this possibility. If the lockout extends throughout the entirety of the season, players such as Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak, David Steckel, Carl Gunnarsson, and Korbinian Holzer will become free agents.
Glad tidings would be a description for having some of those players exit the team, but the same can definitely not be said for Joffrey Lupul.
The NHL and NHLPA must reach a deal as fast as possible before these possibilities become reality. Not only does league wide revenue and fan interest take a hit, but teams could lose some very important players.
A team like the Maple Leafs, who are in major scramble mode to establish a consistent team and gather some assets would suffer a grave lose, something in which they cannot afford.
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