A Detailed Look at the 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs Teams

the following is an overview of the 2008-2009 leafs squad and how it should compete barring any trades or other transactions made


Jason Blake – Capable player who has the ability to be a talented pest and should be able to take over the role tucker left but is capable of scoring 25 to 30 goals a year needs another chance before being run out of town

Nik Hagman – talented two way player who can counted on for 15 – 25 goals a year and be an efective defencesive forward

Mark Bell – potential suprise second liner this year and may score 15 plus goals. look for a marked improvement on his 4 goal total last year and expect a push more in his contract year

Poni – second or third line player who can be counted on for 15 – 20 goals no more

nik antropov – talent was shown last year and could improve further and become a very good power forward on the first line – look for trade value to improve and if the leafs are in the bottom five come january look for him to be shopped for a decent return

matt stajan – very talented young forward who will be a key member of the leafs for years to come. should devolop into a solid first or second line player this or next year and will be on the first penalty killing unit every game. captain material in the next 2 years if matuer and will blossom into a 30 plus goal scorer.

alex steen – a player who has first and second line potential but has not reached it yet and hasnt topped his first year point total. look for him to be counted on to score more than his career high 18 goals and he will either sprout into a top line player or whither away into mediocre player oblivion.

jamal mayers – solid third line grinder who will be counted on for his penalty killing and defensive smart skills. only expect a max of 10 goals. expected to be a leader for smart defensive play.

jiri tlusty – definte potential for a great player but only one year of experience. look for him to matuer and become a smarter two way player before becoming a offensive threat.

mikhail grabovski – acquired to shore up the center depth and only played a total of 27 games. has potential for a good two way forward but only limited offense. may blossom with more minutes under wilson

dominic moore – hard working fourth liner who earned a one year deal with the leafs and will be counted on to play smart hockey with only limited offence expected. could become third liner with hard work

ryan hollweg – fighter expected to take belaks place as the agitator. little offence but more than belak. only some games not close to 80.

nikolai kulemin – blue chip prospect who has impredded at wjc and should be a lock to make the team this year. look for him to be a top line player in the years to come. (once considered the best russian outside the nhl)

earl, mitchell, boyce and pohl,williams – look to fight for a job and will get long looks to play in case of injuries. williams and pohl most likely to make the team


McCabe – Decent defenseman who is overpaid but has the potential to be a 5 million dollar d just not in Toronto and possiblynot in Canada (needs to be given another chance)

Kubina – Great Defenseman butourmost tradeableasset and almost 30 – 50 percentchance of getting moved. that goes upif mccabe stays and isnt traded(most likely)

Finger – Decent Defenseman that is a bruiser and a solid defensive defence men who the Leafs sorely need (and Fletcher can be forgiven for over paying him a little). i have watched a couple of his games both against calgary, vancouver, and edmonton last season and from what i have seen is just what the leafs need and very solid.

Carlo – very talented d-man that has the potential to be top 4 d-man if he gets over the injury bug. once a key cornerstone of the leafs now a bust or boon player in the next 2 years.

White – good puck mover low confidence which may get boosted with another season. potential for a solid journeyman job in the nhl.

Stralman – one of two cornerstone defenceman of the future(the other is schenn) and has a huge amount of talent. is a good bet rof a roster spot and should significantly improve minutes this year. Confidence should be boosted with an great world championship and could move to a top 3 spot with depature of kubina or mccabe

kronwall – physically powerfully forward who is very much a defence only d-man. future is bright for him but will be hard pressed to make the squad. will see time if injuries on the big team and may well gain a spot then.

Frogren – Very impressive bruiser from sweden who has impressed with his world chapionship play and will be counted on to fill the spot gill left.

Kaberle – Best d-man of the group and is a top 2 d in almost every team in the leageu. counted on for his impressive passing skills and should be pushed by ron wilson to shoot more (which would be good). very good defensively and is a good player to build around. trade value is high and will only be traded if the offer is extremely high( as well as if hes drops his clause) or as a last resort to help rebuild if they are last any of the next 3 years (trade talk will be high in his last year).

Harrison – good player who should fit in to leafs plans if injuries happen but only then unless he plays out of this world.

Schenn – very talented defecneman who is counted on for his defensive abilitiees and will hit players hard and make them pay for goals. offence is limited but can develop. should get a long look to make the big team but will not be rushed.


Vesa Toskala – Staright up number 1 goalie without a doubt unless he is injured or somehow has a mental breakdown

Curtis Joseph – Very Reliable backup proved by the backup job he did in calgary and proved he can still be called on if toskala is injured.

Justin Pogge – Goalie of the future that will not be rushe into playing and will play with the marlies this year to better improve. could be called up in case of injury and may win the job(small possibility) dont count on seeing pogge play just yet.

barring any trades this is what the leafs roster will look like for the 2008-2009 season.

blake – antropov – tlutsy
hagman – stajan – kulemin
mayers – grabovski – poni
bell – moore – steen

extras – williams, earl, hollweg

kaberle – mccabe
kubina – stralman
finger – carlo

extras – schenn, kronwall, white, harrison


this next bit is a relistic look at how the leafs will do in the next season with no hopes of a miracle. the 2008-2009 team will be a more exciting team to watch then last season and there will be less defensive errors and defensive lapses. team will fight hard and will be a hard team to play against but probably be fighting for a playoff spot. look for high priced veterans such as kubina, mccabe, bell, blake, poni and antropov to be sopped 9with the possibility of finger, frogren and hagman being shopped as well) and for the leafs to be sellers come the trade deadline. expect them to look for picks and more likely low priced RFAs or young players in return. expect a top ten pick in the 2009 draft and maybe it being dealt for a top quality RFA. also expect players being deaklt to make room for a bevy of signings come july first that sign good players to long term deals.

74 Responses to A Detailed Look at the 2008-2009 Toronto Maple Leafs Teams

  1. ranger_fan says:

    The Rangers would have to make these moves prior to September 15th. Easily done. And if it was about money he would be in Vancouver by now. NY has plenty of marketing opportunities to get him money – not to mention he isn't with a shit team in Toronto – in Toronto's division – or way out west with no friends.

  2. beatles24 says:

    The season will be very long for the Maple Leafs fans !!!

    Why is Ian White not in the regular defenceman, I'm not agree.

    Do the DG Mister Fletcher try to give the best chances to draft John Tavares like the Nordiques did with somes stranges decisions and mouvements to Draft Eric Lindros many years ago ?

  3. mojo19 says:

    Yeah, I think he’ll put up around 65-75 this season as the go-to-guy on offense and lead the team, but they’ll struggle offensively for sure.

  4. cam7777 says:

    I'm by no means terribly dissatisfied with how the rebuild has begone, but I'm starting to think that even more guys have to go.  At first, I was kinda with Fletch on the subject of Kubina, thinking he could have a strong year playing alongside Kaberle.  But what's the point?  Even if he does, it only puts us further from Tavares, and he won't be around when the team turns around.  Even Steen and Stajan are kinda iffy guys to start rebuilding around.  Both are solid players for their price tag, but if they become go to guys for offense, in two years their contracts will be up and they'll be looking for ridiculous (undeserved) raises.  Maybe rebuilding should mean even more dismantling, and the beginning of looking for guys to build around.  Because if we're going to end up overpaying for young players, we should at least be overpaying for quality young players.  How about:

    -Kubina, White and Steen to Buffalo for Pominville

    This gives the Leafs a more solid offensive leader than Steen, and someone to help Antropov bare the brunt of the work in 08/09.  Pominville might be too pricey for Buffalo, and they are still in need of defensive help.  Then at the deadline next year, when McCabe's value will have hopefully risen (given that his last two years are very affordable, particularly to teams that don't reach the cap) the Leafs should look to pair him with Stajan for another prime offensive player.  Something like:

    McCabe and Stajan for P.M. Bouchard or Patrick O' Sullivan or Wojtek Wolski….or even for Kunitz.

    (Probably a trade for Kunitz would be most likely, as the Ducks will have only Pronger under contract past next season, and McCabe could be a huge asset there.  It would also be a smart move for Anaheim as far as negotiating contracts with the other D-men.  With only Pronger a sure thing, Beauchemin et al can pretty much have their way next summer)

    Then, to further solidify a last place finish, Antropov should be convinced to be a rental player.  Send him and Colaiacovo to Vancouver in exchange for a 1st and Kevin Bieska at the deadline.  Resign Antropov in July for 4 million.  Finally, blow some picks and go after a huge RFA (Jordan Staal- 6 million for 6 years).




    CAP HIT-52.991
    (w/ buyouts and assuming that Pominville could be signed for 6 million or less, and Grabovski at 1.2 million or less)

    Now that would be an awesome rebuilding job for the Leafs.  Unfortunately, it's all highly unlikely, and instead we'll be stuck w/ Steen and Stajan as our go to guys for the next few seasons. 

  5. Bure96 says:

    Okay, what?

    Bieksa and 1st for Antropov, and Carlo?

    Okay, Antropov for Bieksa straight up isn't even fair considering Antropov will be a pending UFA, and the Canucks pretty much were offered Bieksa for Erik Cole straight (I think Cole is a better player then Antropov).

    And then that make's it a 1st round pick for Colaiacovo

    And let's get this straight. Teams don't trade 1st line guys for multiple 3rd liners and overpaid 3rd pairing defensemen. Thats why you'll never get a guy like Pominville for a bunch of scraps. Your better off trading guys like Stajan and Steen away for picks then packaging them and really losing more then you gain. The guys you'll get for those types of packages could be top 6 forwards, but either old past their prime 2nd liners, or a guy coming off a bad year with a big contract. Just trade these guys away for picks separately and and then trading draft picks away for quality players.

    You still trade a guy like Kaberle or Antropov straight up for a quality prospect, plus some picks possibly though.

    For example:

    To let's say Washington at the deadline (example): Pavel Kubina
    To Toronto: 1st rounder, 3rd rounder

    That pick becomes the 21st overall pick(example). You trade that pick and your own 3rd round pick for a guy like Marc Edward Vlasic (example once again).

    Now Marc Edward Vlasic straight up Kubina looks like a bad trade, but some teams get desperate at the trade deadline, and San Jose obviously doesn't want to give Vlasic a big raise, because there close to the cap and the year after that Marleau, and Nabokov will both be UFA's and want extensions, so Vlasic becomes available and unless he has a monster year he's a guy the Sharks can replace.

  6. lukeleim says:

    The first trade is horrific… Pominville is overrated and Steen is our future. He'll consistantly reach 60 points while being dependable defensively. I wouldn't trade Steen for Jason Pominville straight up. Mccabe and Stajan for P.M. Bouchard, Patrick O' Sullivan or Wojtek Wolski? This proposal is slightly more realistic but very unlikely. Finally, trading Nik Antropov and Carlo Colaiacovo for Bieksa and a first rounder is a realistic move, but not one I'd like to see. Bieksa is extremely overrated and reminds me of a poor version of Bryan McCabe.

    A more realistic trade involving Pavel Kubina:

    Pavel Kubina and Robbie Earl for Antoine Vermette.

    Ottawa is looking for an experienced defenseman and it appears Vermette might be available.

  7. lukeleim says:

    Bieksa is horrible.

    Pominville is overrated.

    This being said, good proposal for Pavel Kubina.

  8. leafy says:

    Sundin should go back to Toronto, according to a Swedish poll.


  9. Milohabs says:

    A few items.

    First off, you are looking at this as an obvious Leaf die hard fan who can't face reality. Truthfully. The team is chock full of 3rd line players. Even Blake, Hagman Poni & Antropov would be a 3rd (maybe 2nd) line player on most rosters in the league. Toronto will have even more trouble scoring this year (with Tucker & Sundin gone) the PP will be worse. This means Wilson will push for a strong defensive game which means more boring hockey for Toronto fans…sorry but it's true.

    You mentioned they will be better defensively…how? McCabe, Kubina, Kaberle etc etc are all back. The only change is Finger replacing Gill which isn't that significant. Finger could end up being the biggest bust of the off-season. We'll have to wait and see.

    Cujo was a fine addition, but he won't make a difference either way. maybe he'll be more steady that Raycroft was, but he'll only start 15 games anyways.

    Toskala is the best thing this team has going for it.

    Lastly, just so you have you facts right about Grabovski. This guy is the total opposite of what you wrote. He is fast as lightening and can create top tier offense with his skill level, HOWEVER, coaches get frustrated because his defensive game stinks. He doesn't back check, he's weak on the puck and honestly, he's just too small for the NHL. I saw him play a ton in Hamilton & Montreal and he had a hard time adapting to NHL calibre. He'll need lots of PP time to have some room to work, other wise, he'll score 8-10 goals over a full season. Nothing too thrilling and not great for a guy who can only play offense.

    He has a 2 way contract meaning Fletcher thinks enough of his skill to try him out, but if it doesn't work, he'll excell in the AHL as he did last year.

    Prediction (realisticaly). Toronto has one of the worst 5 teams on paper. Add to that a few key injuries which ALWEAYS happen to every team, and they will be bottom 5 this year. This may prove to be a blessing in disguise if they can get a top 5 pick and start stocking up on the talent pool. If Toronto really starts re-building, they'll be competing for the playoffs in about 3 years time. This ship will turn around, but it's a BIG ship and therefore can't turn too quickly.

    LASTLY, the McCabe situation is so ridiculouos. The Leafs are a classless organization, and as much as I don't like McCabe, I fully support him in this situation.

  10. cam7777 says:

    the defense will be better, because short of McCabe, the defense has never been the problem.  The problem has been useless forwards that don't know how to get the puck out, or help their defensemen out.  Wilson teaches this very well, and so you can expect more responsible forwards, defensively speaking.

    antropov was ranked the second most under rated player in the league by the GMs, and he is a top line guy (at worst second line).  Find me a team that's not detroit where antropov would play on the third line.  Even in Detroit I'd put him on the second line.  Hagman and Poni, yes they are third line guys pretty much anywhere, but Blake is valuable in multiple ways.  He may not have put up 40 goals last year (but still, 52 points), but his speed creates chances and momentum for his team.  I'd put him on the second line on most teams.  The only problem with Blake is that he's overpaid and overaged.  if he was making 2.5 millon a year, no one would say anything against him. 

    that said, yes, the leafs still look terrible and will finish last. 

  11. canuckstocup says:

    How exactly is Bieksa horrible? You have clearly seen him play quite a bit to make that sort of comment so lets hear the explanation or are you just saying it for the sake of typing something.

  12. Bure96 says:

    Well that's not really a fair thing to say. Bieksa has played two full seasons. One year he was spectacular, and the other year he missed more then half the season with a lacerated calf and performed average when he did play. It's difficult to come back from an injury like that. He'll have a good year next year. He's only 26 years old too.

    And Jason Pominville is actually one of the NHL's most underrated players. He scored 80 points last year on a team with an average offense. He's only 25 too, so he could become a really good player.

  13. cam7777 says:

    Buffalo doesn't have an average offense.  They have a below average defense, that suffered many casualties last season.  Often they found themselves having to score 4 or more goals to ensure wins.  That's why they were the 4th highest scoring team in the league last year.  Behind only montreal, ottawa and detroit. 

    regardless of whether bieska is good or not, the point is that vancouver has dangled him in an effort to attract a quality offensive prospect, so clearly he isn't so precious that they wouldn't move him. 

    the point with pominville isn't that he is over rated or under rated…the point is that he could command 6 million or more after next season.  this is something which buffalo has proved reluctant to do; pay young guys top dollar.  so why not shore up two problems: a lackluster defensive corp, and an immediate replacement for pominville up front (rather than risk losing him to an offer sheet, and waiting for picks to replenish the team).   

    in fact, im starting to agree with luke, that the trade might be more unfair for toronto. 

  14. lafleur10 says:

    cam i think that is a bold state to say that you'd put antropov on the second line in detroit………maybe that's just your leaf bias coming out! seriouly man antopov had have a tough time crack the redwings 3rd or 4th line!and on any of the top teams in our coference1 montreal,pittsburgh! specifically he'd be a 3rd or 4th liner as well! if antropov was on my habs he'd be battling lattendresse and kostopolous for their spots in the line-up! you said to show you team outside of detroit where he'd play on the 3rd line well it would be on the habs!
    our first line is:
    a.kostitsyn,plekanec kovalev(he couldn't and woldn't unseat any of those guys!
    our second line:
    s.kostitsyn,koivu,tangauy(he wouldn't take any of those guys spots either!
    3rd line
    lattendresse,lapierre,higgins (sorry dude he wouldn't take a spot from them either!
    our 4th line:
    kostopolous,chipchurra,laraque! not even here! so for you to say that he'd be on the second line on most teams is just utterly wrong!we aren't as good as detroit and you'd put him on there second line! wake up my friend our dullisional if you think that! antropov on the redwings,habs,penguins,sharks would be lucky to play and would be a healthy scratch or an injury replacemebt player on these teams! howevere on the leafs,bluejackets,senators,and a few other teams he could be on the first or second line!…..sens fans will get mad a t me for this but outside of heatly,spezza,alfredsson there's not much so antropov could be a second line player!

  15. Bure96 says:

    I really didn't know Buffalo's offense was that good last year. My mistake.

    The reason Bieksa was on the trade block was, because of all of the big four defensemen in Vancouver he was the most attractive player. Mattias Ohlund, Sami Salo, and Willie Mitchell are all over 31, have less upside then Bieksa, and make about the same salary.

  16. cam7777 says:

    well, my mistake in not understanding why bieska was on the block.  all the same, in that trade i would easily take any of the less attractive defensemen vancouver has to offer.  anyone who can be a solid addition to our defensive corp. and not be injured as often as colaiacovo would be a welcome addition.  of course, my mind could change if colaiacovo manages to be an assett and stay healthy leading up to the trade deadline (still, this is toronto's problem….not taking advantage of trading guys while they have value).

  17. cam7777 says:

    his production is better than koivu's now, he could take that spot pretty easily.  koivu is great, don't get me wrong.  i have his jersey, love the guy.  but antropov is on the rise, and you're forgetting the intangibles that antropov brings.  he's considered one of the better two way forwards around right now, which is more than can be said for tanguay.  and there's no way he'd be over looked for lapierre or latendresse.

    you're right though, montreal would be a good example of a team where nik wouldn't necessarily be top tier.  i'm just saying, antropov is a power forward who can play center….you can't tell me you wouldn't want him on your team (isn't that exactly what the habs have been searching for?).  if he puts up 56 points with the Leafs…what's he gonna do for the habs?  it would be a whole different ball game for him to play with higgins, kostitsyn, kovalev, tanguay and the gang

    also, i did say that detroit would be the only team i could think of that would be a stretch.  he could definitely take satan's spot in pittsburgh's top line, or fedentko's on the 2nd.  he could easily be a second line asset for the sharks.  so really, i think you're being the delusional one.  i can't understand why people under value antropov so much.  Apparently everyone knows better than the GMs.   

  18. lafleur10 says:

    antropov couldn't touch koivu on his best day!!!!his production isn't better than koivu's go back over the last 2 seasons and you'll see koivu has more points over that span!antropov is on the rise!boy that's a good one he rose to a level where he is and will either stay where he is or get worse! remember he palyed with sundin and that is the only reason (plus the fact that he was finally healthy)is the reason he had 56 points A CAREER HIGH!and yes i wouldn't want him on my team because he wouldn't make our team period1if he is so undervalued then why haven't the leafs traded him by now?.is it maybe because we see what all the other teams see an overacheiever that simply had a career year and has leveled off or will never be to us what leafs think this guy is1 i think that's it! and teams don't want this guy or you guys would have traded him by now!i can't understand why leafsfans overvalue this stiff!(which is exactly what he is)

  19. lafleur10 says:

    i forgot to mention that plekanec and the kostitsyn's are players on the rise more so than antropov!

  20. cam7777 says:

    well, agree to disagree…there's no arguing with a habs fan, is there?

    but to answer your question, the leafs haven't traded him because they believe he's a center piece worth building around.  it's not the leafs that value him so high, as i've already explained.  many gms and coaches have commented on antropov.  if you believe you know better than them, then good for you.

    i also never said anything against the kostitsyn's or plekanec, so relax.

  21. i_know_hockey says:

    luke ur an idiot

  22. i_know_hockey says:

    this is going to be antropovs 9th season…. i think the verdict on this guy is already in.

    Ps he needs to get rid of the gay visor wat a loser

  23. mojo19 says:

    Antropov would be on the first line in 25 out of 30 teams. He's a coach's dream. The other 5 teams he would be a 2nd line player, and that includes Detroit. Antropov is an overall better player than Holmstrom. I would actually go ahead and put him top line with the Wings if he were to go there.

    You Antropov bashers are ridiculous, you haven't watched the guy play, you're all just Leaf haters (or clueless Leaf fans). I'll take the votes of 300+ players/GMs/Coaches over the opinions of idiots like i-know-hockey and Lafleur10.

    Koivu better than Antropov?? He was…. in 2002 and earlier. Since 2003, Koivu has been better than Antropov in just 1 season (the one season where Saku surpassed 70 pts, he did have a monster year).

  24. lukeleim says:

    If you take a glance at the depth chart, the overabundance of depth both up front and on the back end suggests either Fletcher has a series of trades in the works or there is going to be plenty of competition at training camp. And once the season begins, there will be the impression that no one is safe. The country club atmosphere is out and accountability is in.

    Goaltenders: Vesa Toskala, Curtis Joseph

    Defensemen: Bryan McCabe, Pavel Kubina, Tomas Kaberle, Anton Stralman, Ian White, Carlo Colaiacovo, Jeff Finger, Staffan Kronwall

    Centermen – Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Dominic Moore, Boyd Devereaux, Mikhail Grabovski

    Right Wingers: Nik Antropov, Jeremy Williams, Jamal Mayers, Nik Kulemin

    Left Wingers: Jason Blake, Niklas Hagman, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jiri Tlusty, Mark Bell, Ryan Hollweg
    Trade Alexei Ponikarovsky and Ian White for draft picks.

    Trade Bryan McCabe to the Buffalo Sabres for Maxim Afinogenov.

    Jason Blake – Nik Antropov – Maxim Afinogenov
    Mark Bell – Alexander Steen – Nikolai Kulemin 
    Niklas Hagman – Matt Stajan – Jamal Mayers
    Jiri Tlusty – Mikhail Grabovski – Boyd Devereaux
    Ryan Hollweg – Dominic Moore

    Tomas Kaberle – Pavel Kubina
    Jeff Finger – Carlo Colaiacovo
    Jonas Frogren – Anton Stralman
    Staffan Kronwall

    Vesa Toskala
    Curtis Joseph

    Prospect Depth:

    Robbie Earl – Darryl Boyce – Jeremy Williams
    Dale Mitchell – Chris DiDomenico – Jimmy Hayes
    Alex Foster – John Mitchell – Tyler Ruegsegger

    Luke Schenn – Dimitri Vorobiev
    Phil Oreskovic – Korbinian Holzer

    Justin Pogge
    James Reimer

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