Newest Leaf bleeds blue
LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency
|The Maple Leafs selected Guelph Storm defenceman Matthew Finn 35th overall in the NHL draft at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, Penn., June 22, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI Agency)
PITTSBURGH - Matthew Finn has arrived with his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, but Jonas Gustavsson is leaving on a Jet plane.
Not long after Finn, perhaps the most blue-blooded Leaf ever drafted, walked to Toronto’s table after being selected in the second round of the NHL draft, general manager Brian Burke officially bid farewell to Gustavsson, trading the golaie’s rights to the Winnipeg Jets for a conditonal seventh-round pick.
Gustavsson becomes a free agent on July 1 and the Leafs get the pick if he agrees to terms with the Jets, who are looking for insurance in net in case Ondrej Pavelec departs.
Finn is a younger cousin of former Leafs defenceman Carlo Colaiacovo, was a big Bryan McCabe fan, knows last year’s top pick Stuart Percy from the minor hockey Marlies, grew up a member of the Buds Club for Kids and lives on the same street as the Leafs’ practice rink.
It was a nervous Friday night here before the Guelph Storm defenceman was picked after he unexpectedly fell out of the first round to 35th overall.
“I went back to the hotel with the family, kind of laid low, got a good night’s sleep,” Finn said.
“Unfortunately I didn’t get picked, But I ended up in Toronto. It’s unbelievable, a dream come true. It’s my hometown crowd. To be selected by Toronto, growing up in Toronto, watching them my entire life, it’s something else.”
Finn recalled his Buds Club membership entitled him to a Carlton The Bear stuffed toy.
“Now I’m part of the real club,” laughed Finn.
The 16th ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting, Finn led all Guelph defencemen in goals, assists and points (48). He is a power-play specialist, adding yet another offensive blueliner to the mix after the Leafs took Morgan Rielly of the Moose Jaw Warriors fifth overall Friday.
“I’ve got to work,” Finn said of what lies ahead to move up the depth chart. “It’s not this year or next year. It’s five years down the road. I know they’re deep on defence. It’s something I’ve got to work for.”
With their third pick, the offensively challenged Leafs went for a centre, Minnesota high schooler Dominic Toninato, a six footer who had 61 points in 25 games.
Gustavsson was 39-45-15 as a Leaf with a .900 save percentage on a team that never made the playoffs in his three years of service. He was a loudly trumpeted signing by Burke, but was bothered by injuries and never found consistency.