Alternative Approaches for Fletcher, Trade Everyone
Whats the point of holding on to Antropov, Toskala and Kaberle if the Leafs can’t build around them? The Leafs clearly have no future and the conventional wisdom in addressing the team’s many issues is trading Sundin in order to get a couple of draft picks and prospects, however this isn’t the best course of action. Shallow depth within the farm system isn’t the obstacle to future success, bad contracts are. This being the case, the most pressing concern isn’t restocking the farm system but getting rid of the likes of Blake, McCabe, Tucker and Kubina. This is a tall order, but not an imposibility. To achieve this end, Fletcher must aggressively attempt to rid the Leafs of all asset, there are no untouchables on this roster or within the farm system.
Sundin, Toskala, Antropov and Kaberle all have solid trade value, Fletcher should focus on packaging each one of them along with a bad contract (McCabe, Blake, Tucker or Kubina). As for Raycorft, the Leafs can afford to eat the two million and put him in the minors.
For example, McCabe has pretty much no trade value, but packaged with Kaberle, a team looking for a top two pairing could be very interested in a Kaberle/McCabe or Kaberle/Kubina package. Its not like there are better deals to be found in the UFA market (look at last off season, Hamerlik making 5.75 a year, the market for UFA defenseman is ridiculous). In this type of deal, the Leafs would have to take salary back, maybe McCabe and Kaberle to SJ for Marleau and a 2nt round pick, or a simillar type deal with whoever the interested party may be.
Other deals could involve packages such as Tucker/Sundin to Calgary for Tanguay or Blake/Toskala to any team in need of goaltending or package Blake with Wellwood and or/Steen, hell package him with Starlman or Kumelin if it results in getting rid of Blake.
The key to these deals are to have lower expectations in the return. Asking price shouldn’t be top propects and picks but rather manageable contract players. Clearing the team of bad contracts is more valueable to righting the ship than simply getting a good prospect or two and late first round pick (the typical type of speculated return for Sundin).
This should effectively put the Leafs in the cellar for the next couple of years where they could possibily land Tavares and Stamkos. The Leafs shouldn’t be in a rush to restock the farm system via trades. They can do it over the next couple of years with their own draft picks.
In fact hodling on to the likes of Kaberle, Toskala and Antropov hurts the Leafs chance of landing a top five draft picks. Holding on to them in the long term does more harm than good. The Leafs should be willing to give up on next season in order to move forward.
Now consider the alternative, hold on to McCabe, Kubina, Kaberle, Toskala, Antropov, Blake and Tucker. Continue to be just competitive enough to keep themselves out of the playoffs and out of a great draft position. Trade Sundin for a couple of good prospects and picks that are long shots to become impact players. Holding on to Kaberle, Antropov and Toskala is a waste as it keeps the status quo. The Leafs can’t pick and choose which contracts they can deal and which they can keep, but trading the good with the bad is a possibility. The need is to dismantle the core.
Starting from scratch is the best to way to lure an A list GM and has great upside for building for the future. If Fletcher is to play the role of Wayne Embery in an attempt to land a Colangelo type GM/president then he must aggressively tear apart the current foundation of this organization. The only untouchable asset within the organization should be the Leafs’ own draft picks. Creating a blank canvas, this is the solution.