A realistic look into the Leafs offseason.

The way I see it is that we are going to welcome back two past players. Both of whom want to be with the Leafs. Better get a drink this is a long one but a good one.

A realistic look into the Leafs offseason

The way I see it is that we are going to welcome back two past players. Both of whom want to be with the Leafs. Better get a drink this is a long one but a good one.

To start….I know for a fact that Raycroft isn’t going anywhere and that Sundin will certainly be back. The fact that Sundin has not gone back to Sweeden says that he is sticking around. The plan is and the Leafs have the NHL’s approval to renegotiate Sundin’s contract. As for Raycroft he isn’t going anywhere because JFJ traded for this guy and he wants to try to prove that it was a good deal. It is his own ego that wants this to work.

Now….JFJ did say on the Leafs channel that he will be looking for an experienced goaltender this offseason who can play about 30 to 35 % of the games and take some off the pressure of Raycroft. Boy do I got a name for you Leaf fans. CUJO!! He said at the end of this season in the Phoenix newspaper that he either wants to play for the Yotes or return to Toronto. I smell a hometown discount coming. Cujo would be a pefect backup to Raycroft as he could help him deal with the pressure of playing in Toronto and be an effective backup in Toronto. As for you who think this would not be good you can try watching some Yotes games from this past season as their defence was awful and Cujo made a lot of great saves that we did not see this year from Raycroft. Cujo is in the later stages of his hockey career but can certainly still get the job done. Cujo also still has a home in the Toronto area and is still active with local charities. Would be an ideal fit for both Cujo and the Leafs.

As for up front we can certainly say goodbye to everyone who is a free agent except maybe Battaglia, Devereaux(now that he has signed), and maybe Antropov. Unless Battaglia wants far less then a million per year then he should stay. As for Antropov I for one would not resign him. Case being that he is often hurt and knew he was playing for a new contract this past season. Especially a free agent one. The Leafs should get wise that he will just sign a nice big deal and be hurt again next season. This guys whole past has been him being injury prone. Do you want 1.5 to 2 million not being on the ice for the bulk of the games? That money would be better spent elsewhere. As for the rest they are all goners.

Who to sign? I hear a lot of Bertuzzi wanting to play for the Leafs. I think I would pass on this. He has never recovered from being off from the whole Moore thing. Also never recovered from his back surgery. So I would pass.

Ryan Smyth is another name that is being mentioned. He would be a great signing but may cost too much to get. He is looking for McCabe money and with both McCabe and Kubina making close to that kind of money the Leafs may not be able to afford him. I think the Flyers are going to land Smyth as they would be crazy not to try and sign him with their large amount of cap space. He is also a Flyers type of player….cut right out of the Philly mold. Also hearing that Calgary has a shot at him. So the Leafs would do well to land him but realisticly I don’t think they can.

Shanahan should be another one the Leafs should go after as he is unrestricted and is still a great player with a nose for the net. His 29 goals and 62 points prove this. He did this without playing with a true number one center. Put him with Sundin and the points will start to pile up.

Another name that sparks interest for me is Gary Roberts. This guy wants to play for Toronto so bad he waited to see if the Leafs would make a counter offer for him when the trade to the Penguins came down. He also may have been waiting to see if Ottawa was going to bid too but none the less he wants to play in the Ontario region. His playoffs were great as he was a force for the Pens. He is still a good NHL player and his leadership is second to none. He would be a huge influence on the Steens and Stajans of the lockeroom who don’t play every night.

Sorry folks but these two disappear more then a bottle of pills at Courtney Love’s house. They were hardly noticable for the last 12 games of the season. Both mired in what was being called huge slumps. Sorry a person in a slump is doing other things well….look at Sundin…he was in a scoring slump but was still making a lot of assists. These guys were hardly mentioned. Maybe a trade of both of them to Edmonton for Torres and Lupul along with the exchange of some picks would do well. All four are young and need a change of venues. Torres is a tenatious forechecker and would fit in real well with Maurices style of play. Also Lupul is a promising young star and is kind of the same player style as Steen. Except Lupul does not shy away as much from the physical play(notice I said as much). I also really like Torres and his style of play which is hard checking and hard working. This guy certainly did have a bad year but everyone on the Oilers did.

I know what you are thinking. Most of the players you have pointed out are older. Well they are but Toronto has some youth that needs a season or two to mature. So another year in the minors is not going to kill them. Rushing them along is not good as we have seen with Antropov as he should have spent some time in the minors. Took the time to mature his game.

That being said I would certainly promote Jeremy Williams. He is a young center(23) who deserves a chance to play in the NHL. He has scored at all levels and the few chances he has got to play with the Leafs he scored goals. Two games played in the NHL and he has two goals. Not a bad average. I know he is not going to keep this pace up but at least give him the chance to play. He also plays well in his own end as in the 2005-2006 season he was a plus 2 on a bad defensive Marlies team and managed to get 56 points in 55 games played.

As for the defence….well don’t hold your breath looking for a change. Contracts that were given to both Kubina and McCabe are not going anywhere. And those of you who want McCabe traded elsewhere….he is not going anywhere. Maybe he might be traded to the Islanders but he would have to first waive his no trade and I don’t see that happening unless it is to the Islanders as that is where his wife is from and people close to him believe he would accept a trade there. But with a bunch of other loaded contracts on the Island they are not going to bring in his as well unless they could maybe dump one in return.

Say what you will about the Steen and
Stajan part but Stajan at least has been given all kinds of chances and he has not improved much. Make him trade bait….but Steen might yet come around as he is still quite young. I see Steen on the power play and he is afraid to stand by the net. Healy pointed this out on TSN that he is half way between the corner and the side of the net. How in God’s name are you going to score from here? Steen has shown flashes of what might be but like Stajan he can not do it so far on a regular basis. He should have been packaged for Pronger last summer when the Oilers asked for him. God knows Pronger would look much better on the blueline then McCabe or Kubina combined have looked. Burke pulled the trigger and look where the Ducks are….but that rant is better served for JFJ….who is too afraid to pull the trigger on a huge deal. We have to stop falling in love with our young playes who show something every dozen games or so and get some proven young talent in return.

So this is how things shape up.

Shanahan – Sundin – Tucker

Roberts – Wellwood – Ponikarovsky

Torres – Pohl – Lupul

Kilger – Williams – Devereaux

Defence the same.

Raycroft and Cujo in nets.