The Maple Leafs' failed attempt at big-time playoff horse trading will be staring at them from the Boston Bruins bench tonight.
Forward Brad Boyes, their first-round pick in 2000, represents a chunk of the costly Owen Nolan deal from 2003 that also sent centre Alyn McCauley to the San Jose Sharks. Boyes and the first-round pick from the Nolan deal (defenceman Mark Stuart) eventually went to Boston in separate swaps. On the Bruins blue line is Brian Leetch, who was secured from the Rangers in 2004, at the cost of Leafs' Euro-prospects Maxim Kondratiev and Jarkko Immonen, plus a first-rounder (eventual Calgary Flame Kris Chucko) and a second-rounder.
Ironically, the Leafs now use a kid line that Boyes could have been a part of.
Nolan remains locked in a bitter and potentially expensive grievance procedure with the Leafs regarding his health. He had 60 points in 79 regular-season games, but only two assists in seven injury-plagued playoff games during his two springs here. Leetch was a more useful addition, but couldn't get the Leafs past the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round of the '04 playoffs and jumped to the Bruins as a free agent.
"We took a gamble," said Pat Quinn who was general manager at the time of the Nolan deal. "We thought we were getting a top player who was a good playoff player as well. But we never had him in any playoffs.
"We all liked young Boyes. We gave up Alyn as well and a first-rounder. That's a big price to pay for a guy who comes in and doesn't play a whole lot for you.
"But you measure and weigh everything, you say it's worth it and hopefully think we can win (the Stanley Cup). But (people) always remember when we don't. It didn't pay off that year with Nolan and it didn't pay off with Brian."
New GM John Ferguson pulled the trigger on Leetch. The Leafs breakout rarely looked more crisp as when Leetch and Bryan McCabe were paired, but when the Leafs didn't advance and the lockout intervened, Leetch re-evaluated his future, picking the Bruins, close to his Connecticut home.