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Maple Leafs buy out Tim Gleason, rejected by Josh Gorges

Montreal Canadiens' David Desharnais, right, celebrates a goal with teammate Josh Gorges during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Tampa, Florida February 28, 2012.

Reuters

Add another name to the Toronto Maple Leafs lengthy list of players tossed on the scrap heap.

And another name of a player who doesn't want to play for the Leafs.

The Leafs put defenceman Tim Gleason on unconditional waivers on Monday afternoon in order to buy out his contract. Because Toronto had already used its two compliance buyouts on Mike Komisarek and Mikhail Grabovski last year, Gleason's will be what's known as a regular-course buyout and put a charge against the Leafs cap for the next four years.

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More intriguingly, TSN's Bob McKenzie reported that the Leafs had attempted to acquire Montreal Canadiens defenceman Josh Gorges but that he wouldn't waive his no-trade clause to go to Toronto.

Both bits of news come after the weekend trade of Carl Gunnarsson to the St. Louis Blues for Roman Polak, a move highly in keeping with the Leafs push to dramatically remodel their defence to be more physical and hard hitting.

Let's talk Gleason first. The Leafs landed him at the Winter Classic for John-Michael Liles, who had been given a ridiculous four-year deal by former GM Brian Burke and then quickly punted to the press box (and eventually the minors) by coach Randy Carlyle.

Liles went to Carolina and played reasonably well, albeit not enough to earn his contract.

Gleason? He started out fine but was progressively overwhelmed as the season wore on, spending more and more time in his own zone as the wheels fell off the Leafs 18-wheeler over the tail end of the year.

He ultimately became the worst possession player on an extremely poor possession team and had to go.

The tough part is the Leafs had ways around ending up in this position. They could have used the compliance buyout on Liles last summer instead of Komisarek and would have been entirely free of both cap hits going into next season.

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Or not bought out Grabovski and had similar results while keeping some of their depth at centre.

As it is, the Leafs will now have roughly $23-million in cap space to re-sign their restricted free agents like Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson and make a play in unrestricted free agency on Tuesday starting at noon.

The Gorges talk is a clear indication the Leafs are trying to add more than one Polak-type player to further change their look on the blueline so you can expect them to begin pursuing other options along those lines.

It's clear from the scuttlebutt at the draft in Philadelphia over the weekend that Carlyle places some of the blame for the team's collapse late in the year on not having the right options on the blueline, so GM Dave Nonis is obliging by trying accommodate those wishes.

The problem is that the Leafs are hardly going to become a better puck possession team by adding more stay-at-homers, who generally speaking are being phased out of the league.

You look at the list of buyouts the last two years – Anton Volchenkov, Komisarek, Shane O'Brien, Aaron Rome, Keith Ballard, Steve Montador, Jeff Schultz, Greg Zanon, Hal Gill – and there are a lot of Gleasons on there.

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As we saw with the Canadiens in the playoffs, size and grit isn't always what wins in the NHL anymore, something that is more evident than ever when you look at how many small defencemen are succeeding.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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