Maple Leafs land Komisarek; Habs dish up Cammalleri

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Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally made their move, and it was a huge one.

The Leafs snag the best defensive defenseman on the market in Mike Komisarek from the Montreal Canadiens. He gets five years and $22.5 million, for a $4.5 million average cap hit.

Toronto set itself up by earlier sending defenseman Pavel Kubina to the Atlanta Thrashers. The Leafs get Colin Stuart and defenseman Garnet Exelby from the Thrash; Atlanta grabs the rights to forward Tim Stapleton, an RFA. That opened up a bit of cap space for Burke; it also made Kubina look like a big dummy for that no-trade clause malarkey last year.

Is Komisarek a significant upgrade over Kubina? Can he be counted on as a cornerstone in a rebuilding process? It remains to be seen. One question we can answer: Can Leafs/Boston Bruins games get anymore interesting? Hell yes.

What a wonderful bit of escalation in the Habs/Leafs war. Montreal throwing around money like they're M.C. Hammer and undersized centers are their posse. The Leafs signing away arguably their biggest name free agent, after the Habs may have outbid Toronto for another vital unrestricted free agent in Michael Cammalleri.

Cammalleri had been linked to the Leafs for months. If you polled the hockey smarties before Free Agent Frenzy day, his signing with Toronto would have been one of the most expected moves of the day. (Polar opposite: Brashear to the Rangers.) Yet here is Cammalleri, the newest member of the Montreal Canadiens at five years, $30 million.

Montreal Canadiens GM Bob Gainey said he coveted a big center. Guess stacking Cammalleri and Scott Gomez qualifies, right?

Cammalleri is an interesting player in the sense that he can player wing or center -- so either Gomez's partner in crime or his No. 2 -- and he's also a proven power-play specialist. His new cap hit ($5 million) is much higher than his previous hit ($3.350 million) for the Calgary Flames. That's not the concern, through; the Habs have a ton of space to work with. The concern is that he's a player who needs to play with talent that makes him better, rather than the other way around.

Still, it's an impressive coup for Gainey, considering the alleged competition for his services.

Finally, TSN reports two Nashville Predators moves: Vernon Fiddler goes to the Phoenix Coyotes for $2.2 million and two years. Greg Zanon goes to the Minnesota Wild for three years and $5.2 million.

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