Better Be-Leaf It, Toronto Will Be Buyers This Off-Season

At first glance, it appears that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be in quite the bind come the time a new CBA is in place. With the likelihood of the Cap being anywhere between $35-40 million, it leaves little opportunity for Toronto to spend freely as in years past. Though a rollback in salaries will help increase team’s cap limit, the Leafs are still not that well off as they will have approximately $27 million in salary tied to a mere 8 players.

Under contract are:

Forwards: Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, Darcy Tucker, Matt Stajan

Defence: Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Ken Klee

Goal: Ed Belfour

They will also need to see if they want to bring back any of their restricted free agents which include:

Forwards: Nik Antropov, Alex Ponikarovsky, Chad Kilger,

Defence: Aki Berg, Wade Belak, Karel Pilar

And of course they have a host of unrestricted free agents that have likely played their last game as a Leaf:

Forward: Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Tie Domi, Alexander Mogilny, Ron Francis

Defence: Brian Leetch, Bryan Marchment

Despite what might be impossible odds, the Leafs will still likely be buyers once the off-season gets underway. The reason being is that according to an article by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, it appears that teams will be allowed to buyout their own players at a cost of two-thirds their salary without it counting against the cap. That will be a huge boost for the Leafs as it will allow them to be creative and bring down their current salaries.

In all likelihood, Owen Nolan will be the prime players to see a buyout. His lack of success in Toronto, his 5 plus million dollar salary and his chronic injuries make his liable to get cut loose.

It is also very possible for the Leafs to buyout Ed Belfour’s contract or at least renegotiate it. At 40 he is still a top goalie but how long can he keep it up especially with his chronic back problems. The only problem is, they have no goalies in their system that could take over the number 1 job and there is nothing on the free market that would be a better option than Belfour.

The Leafs could try to renegotiate the contract of their captain Mats Sundin. He is due to make a huge chunk of change the next few seasons but perhaps for the good of the team he may accept less so that the Leafs could bring a player or two.

And the other current Leafs under contract could renegotiate or perhaps even get bought out as the large group of free agents on the market will certain interest the Leafs as well as the other 29 teams in the league. Especially if the league decides to lower the free agent age.

The Leafs will likely go the trade route to find themselves a backup and perhaps successor to Ed Belfour. But they could add the likes of Felix Potvin or Byron Dafoe or Mike Dunham at a cheap price to fill their current backup needs.

There is a host of top blueliners out on the market and the Leafs sure could use one of them as they havent really had an anchor on the blueline since Bo Salming was wearing the blue and white. Brian Leetch could return but there is some top notch guys who will draw interest from all teams such as Chris Pronger, Scott Niedermayer, Sergei Gonchar, Adam Foote, Adrian Aucoin, Roman Hamrlik, Sergei Zubov, Matt Schneider, Alex Zhitnik. Perhaps none of those players will join Toronto, but at least the Leafs will be offered several choices to help sharpen their defence. I would love for Toronto to grab a guy like Mike Rathje whose size and ruggedness is what the Leafs desperately need.

With all but Sundin gone among their top 6 forwards certainly at least one or two guys that are free now could end up in Toronto. There are plenty of options at forward to choose from such as Petr Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, Ziggy Palffy, Jason Arnott, Mike Modano, Alex ZHamnov, Alex Kovalev, Pavol Demitra, Martin St. Louis, Glen Murray, Teemu Selanne. Any of these players will help any club and certainly all 30 teams will be in a mad scramble to grab any of these top line guys. the competition will be fierce and perhaps the Leafs will get shutout of free agent market. But if they can clear some space, they have the money to afford top players and should be bringing in a few players to help their squad next season. I would love to see Jason Arnott centre the second line behind Sundin. The big Glen Murray would look nice on Sundin’s wing. Paul Kariya’s speed and skill would be a nice fit in Pat Quinn’s system. The options are endless.

The Leafs will likely continue to shop for outside talent since their two top players are old and time is running out. But thankfully that has not deterred them from building for the future as they should have a very good Marlies team playing in Toronto. With a top scout in Craig Button added, there should no longer be neglect when it comes to the draft. No more draft schmaft attitudes with the Leafs.

With youngsters like Stajan, Antropov, Ponikarovsky already with the Leafs and others such as Steen, Coliacovo, Wellwood, Tellqvist, White on the cusp of making the big club, the future is ok in Leaf Nation. Though not as deep as other teams, things should only get better in Toronto with a great focus on development.

And with Paul Maurice now the new coach of the Marlies, the Leafs not only have a solid guy to help develop their prospects, but also a winner and a man who should be the successor to veteran coach Pat Quinn with the Leafs.

And who knows, with some luck they could win the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes.

35 Responses to Better Be-Leaf It, Toronto Will Be Buyers This Off-Season

  1. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    I still expect Domi to be back, he’s a huge fan favorite, and says he’d retire before joining another team, despite rumors that he’s headed to the Flyers. Nieuwendyk and Roberts are possibilites, Nieuwendyk will retire if he can’t stay with the Leafs, but he said he’s willing to take a big paycut. Roberts may realize he should take what he can get.

    Nolan, I like him, he’s fun to watch, but a huge disappointment. Other guys like Leetch, Francis, Nieuwendyk, and Belfour all played better with the Leafs then the year before/the rest of the year with their other teams. Francis had half a point a game in Carolina, and just under a point a game in Toronto, same with Leetch, except as a Leaf, he was a point a game. Nieuwendyk… it’s easy to put up higher numbers in Toronto then New Jersey, Elias is the only one who can score their. And then Belfour, Belfour was slowing down when he came to Toronto, but picked it right back up.

    As for Crosby, let the kid play in Montreal, Gretzky got to play where he wanted. If he does pan out, that’s one of the best players in the game for $800 000, (proposed rookie cap.) cap wise, that’s great.

  2. Desertdog17 says:

    Wayne Gretzyky wanted to play in Toronto all his career but never got the chance.

  3. PayUpSucka says:

    Domi to Philly!!!! Haha, that would be funny, is Tucks going too? We’ll trade em both for Sami!!

    You’re right Nords, I also think they will continue to be buyers, especially with the current set up as far as age. I don’t think the youth movement will go full force just yet. Wouldn’t make much sense as the current age of those signed is 30 and above.

    I will say with 99% certainty that Coliacovo, Steen, Wellwood, and Ian White will be playing this year. I expect Poni, Antropov, Belak to be back, and maybe Kilger.

    Great hire in Maurice, the youngsters will benefit from his coaching, and will be better apt to play in the N with his leadership and NHL experience.

    Here’s hoping they stay away from the old geezers.

  4. ranger_fan says:

    Are you serious? Never got the chance? How about when he was a FA and signed on in NY?

  5. ranger_fan says:

    Would old geezers include Brian Leetch. Being a Rangers fan, I know what he brings, and despite being up there, he is still arguable a top 10 defenseman in the whole league, if not better.

  6. PayUpSucka says:

    I’m even shocked at that one rags. We usually sign anyone over 36. haha, I believe gretz was over 35 when he was pushing to become a leaf.

  7. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    I’d say if he was Canadian he’d make team Canada, if that gives you an idea as to where I think he is league value.

    My top 10:

    1. Pronger

    2. Neidermayer

    3. Blake

    4. Lidstrom

    5. Leetch

    6. Jovanovski

    7. MacInnis

    8. Foote

    9. Redden

    10. Chelios

    I know people will yell about this. Leaving out Gonchar and Chara, but Chara is a goon, and Gonchar’s too week.

  8. PayUpSucka says:

    No doubt about it rags, I expect McCabe and Kaberle to be much more efficient this year having has the opportunity to play with such a talent. U hope he suits uo with us again this year. Just send Aki somewhere far away.

  9. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    We had him signed in 95, but Starvo wouldn’t pay for them, even though Cliff Fletcher showed them that financially it would help them quite a bit, with merchandising and what not.

    Gretz chose to play in Edmonton, there was some reason (I forget why.) he could play any where to start, and he opted to stay in Edmonton.

    After Edmonton, Gretz was given the choice where to be traded to, and he chose LA.

    St Louis was a salary dump move.

    New York was his second choice, because Toronto wouldn’t take him. He got rejected by Starvo twice.

    He also wanted to be a Red Wing like Gordie Howe, and he never got to.

  10. PayUpSucka says:

    Is this Gord Stellick?? Leafy, you’re not Stellick in disguise are you? You must be speculating cause there is no way you could know all these details.

  11. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    Everyone I meet on the internet seems to think I’m Gordie…

    Any ways, just what I’ve picked up over the years, Don Cherry gave alot of the details once, at the end of the Starvo era, saying that the reason the Leafs “couldn’t afford” Blake, or Kariya, or Federov, over the last few years, is because Starvo knew that he could sell out every night, even if he lost, and used Gretzky as an example.

  12. ranger_fan says:

    If any person said we cant afford a couple of million to Wayne Gretzky to help end a Cup drought, there is something wrong with them, or the organization. I really don’t think Wayne “wanted” to be in Toronto as much as Leaf fans wanted him in Toronto.

  13. ranger_fan says:

    As far as that list, I don’t like that MacInnis is up. Right now, he has as much value as Al Iafrate, just a slap shot, and not much more.

    Lidstrom and Pronger are my two best.

    from there its kinda a toss.

    but id say 3 to 10









    Norstrom and Carney are perhaps the two best defensive defenseman in the game, but they are both underrated, well Carney did get credit in the Ducks Mighty run.

  14. rangers-suck-balls says:

    Much like nobody wants your sorry fat ass on this site. Your intelligent and insightful opinions are about as valuable as the gas that passes through my a-hole.

  15. nordiques100 says:

    how soon you forget payup. we were giving our hard earned dollars to watch the leafs sign superstars like derek king, glenn healy, kris king and mike kennedy. LOL

    and how could we forget our number two blueliner rob zettler.

    99 went to NY to play with Mess but the rangers were idiots and signed Skrudland and Keane for the almost same price that mess got in Vancouver ever since that time the Rangers have been nothing short of terrible. Then suddenly Gretz lost interest in the game and retired. I guess that is why all ranger fans love neil smith.

  16. ranger_fan says:

    Your comment did match the valuable gas you have. Might I recommend Malox? Fat ass huh, lol. WOW aren’t you good. Its like I have become Peter Griffin overnight.

    Oh yes, the Texas Rangers do suck, good name, no more electro eh?

  17. nordiques100 says:

    Yeah while Tie is there he will buy a box seat at the wachovia centre for fat useless idiots who climb and break the glass by the penalty box that puts players in danger.

    as for tucks, he will go to long Island and be the godfather to Mike Peca’s kids.

  18. nordiques100 says:

    forget about him ranger fan, i think lint or mikster will be getting rid of this ***** soon enough

  19. nordiques100 says:

    scott hannan is awesome too in his own end. He is a heck of a player

    desjardins is not that good anymore. He has tailed off quite a bit unlike some of the other older blueliners around. I say in the late 90s he was one of the best but not now.

    chara isnt bad as he can do it at both ends and one of the few senators who brought it every game.

    macinnis is done with that eye injury too bad for him.

    watch nick boynton next season i think he is going to be right up there with the top guys.

  20. PayUpSucka says:

    Haha, the tucks comment was priceless, thank god there’s no isles fans around!!!

  21. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    I think Nolan will accept a pay cut to come back. Though some new CBA rumors insist that they can’t re-sign him after a buyout. Nolan will ask to renegotiate so he can stay. He knows he can’t get good money any where else, and he loves the Leafs. He was really excited to come here, Leaf fans love him too. I also expect Domi back, Nieuwendyk too. They both said it’s Toronto or bust, so would take a paycut. Roberts… don’t know, if he stays, it’s to play with Nieuwy.

  22. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    There are Islander fans?

  23. kicksave856 says:

    i knew an islanders fan … once. a kid i went to high school with. he wore a mark fitzpatrick jersey all the time. seriously. i’m not even making that up.

  24. ranger_fan says:

    Why is it that everyone loves the Leafs? I’m just curious, because that seems to be the trend on this site now. First Wayne loves them now Nolan. I know Nolan loved the Leafs payrol services, but why would all of these players love and want to play for the Leafs. They have not won the Cup in close to 40 years. The city is not that nice. Sorry Toronto, but Ottawa in my opinion is much better. Besides the s***** that lives there (lol j/k) it is a very clean city, and the radio stations do make me laugh with their jokes about the Leafs.

  25. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    Every team will be a buyer. With 30% buyouts – teams will BAIL on big, old school contracts and look to sign repriced studs to their teams. Older players will ink one and 2 year deals at best. Younger, top players will get 3.5 to 4 million tops. With a 31 million dollard cap – you can LOAD teams up like that.

    As for Domi to Philly – people in TO are really gullable (and overly polite). Are you kidding? I would take Jody Shelly 10x over Domi at this point.

    In other news, I would like to hear what our resident communist union member Yzerman 19 has to say about the state of his beloved union at this point. Is Goodenow still a genius with no ESPN contract and a 31 million dollar threshold for a $1-1 tax? JR is right, the players BLEW it in February when people like Eklund and I were saying the deal was getting done and Pronger, JR, Esche and Ignila were working to make it happen. I am still looking for the silver lining in this drk cloud. changes to the game are the best I can come up with. NOBODY in LA cares about hockey. Seriously Tom Cruise (reportedly gay) being engaged to Kaite Holmes (reportely a virgin) is 1000x a bigger story than anything hockey. Can someone write a story about Rob Blake or Ziggly Palfy or somebody. I miss hockey – bad….

  26. nordiques100 says:

    there are many ontario born players who are from the area, still live in the area and simply want to play close to where they live. not all players want to play in toronto. But there are some that do.

    toronto is a great city. players come here not only because they will be well taken care of but because it is a hockey mad city and some players like playing in that environment. it is quite better than playing in atlanta or carolina where they care nothing about the game. and in recent times, the leafs have been competitive and have been in the thick of contention with Ottawa, Philly, Tampa, Boston in the East. Unlike New York which has been rock bottom for years. In fact the best place to play may actually be the swamp as at least they win unlike the Rangers.

  27. LeafyMcLeaf says:

    People wanna play in Toronto cuz they make money off endorsements, and they’ve got a city full of idiots who kiss their ass. No one will say anything bad about Big E, and he knows it. Nolan liked being a Leaf, because he grew up in Ontario.

    Think about it this way, Canadian players now want to play for the Leafs, for the same reason Americans want to play for the Bruins/Red Wing, alot of them are from those areas, and grew up cheering for them, and want to be close to home. Just like Americans always want to play for the Bruins/Red Wings, Canadians want to play for the Leafs/Habs, and even the Canucks sometimes now. (Kariya, Neidermayer.)

  28. ranger_fan says:

    Aight, just curious. I know that I would not want to play for my childhood team, just because it would be added pressure for me to win with that team lol, luckily I’ll never have to dred that day.

    I’m sure not everyone in Canada wants to play for the Leafs. I could see everyone in Ontario, excluding some in Thunder Bay, and the capital region, and some in Nova Scotia wanting a chance.

    In the US it is different. We want the money. Notice how Boston doesn’t sign anyone? Madano can’t feed his dogs, Guerrin is going on welfare.

    My original thought was that people like Nolan might be quoted saying something like that in the Sun, or on the Fan, but anyone who takes those two seriously have issues. It could also just be a PR thing, saying things they don’t mean, just to win over fans, and get more money.

    Oh and Nords, nice shot on the Rangers. Unfortunately, they have not hit rock bottom, consistently 9-11th place, not 14-15th! Why you brought them into your comments, I still don’t get.

  29. ranger_fan says:

    Ziggy and Blake are all yours to write

  30. PayUpSucka says:

    I have 3 buddies, all brothers, all isles fans. Mick Vukota lovers!!

  31. nordiques100 says:

    ah just getting myself warmed up for when hockey really starts and finally we can all start hating eachother with all the trash-talking LOL

    my rock bottom comment was focused on the fact the team has world class talent but never made the playoffs for 7 years. and then finally they gutted all those players for a fresh start.

  32. nordiques100 says:

    that is why i was writing stuff about every team to keep people in the loop as to where each team stands.

  33. big_booty says:

    It was only a matter of time before the Leafers started popping up and coming up with lame-brained ideas as to how the 40 year drought might come to an end.

    “There are plenty of options at forward to choose from such as Petr Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Paul Kariya, Eric Lindros, Jason Allison, Ziggy Palffy, Jason Arnott, Mike Modano, Alex ZHamnov, Alex Kovalev, Pavol Demitra, Martin St. Louis, Glen Murray, Teemu Selanne.”

    If Toronto fans think they have any shot at these players (with the exception of Lindros and Allison, whose collective cerebella have the consistency of an undercooked quiche), then they are fooling themselves moreso now than in the history of the franchise.

    Do you really believe that St. Louis would give up a sweet gig here in sunny Florida to toil for a perennial also-ran? Do you really believe that Peter Forsberg would abandon the Colorado franchise which has treated him like gold ever since he crossed the pond, IF indeed he does return?

    For the love of Pete, grow some brains, people.

    “Paul Kariya’s speed and skill would be a nice fit in Pat Quinn’s system.”

    Uh, what “system” would that be?

    “I would love for Toronto to grab a guy like Mike Rathje whose size and ruggedness is what the Leafs desperately need. “

    Rathje is the equivalent of Chris Therien – great size, nice presence, looks like a world-beater against offensive stars like Jagr, Yashin, etc. But put him up against the likes of Darby Hendrickson and his game goes down the crapper.

    I am sick and tired of Leaf fans continually singing the praises of Nikolai Antropov. I have finally come to the painful conclusion that no matter how much I try to get these mindless automatons to listen to reason, or no matter how much this talentless oaf stinks it up on the ice, the point will never get across. I guess Leafers have to keep justifying the fact that this waste of space was drafted before the likes of Simon Gagne, Scott Gomez, Brad Richards, Mike Ribiero, Pavel Datsyuk, and Niko Kapanen.

    “And with Paul Maurice now the new coach of the Marlies, the Leafs not only have a solid guy to help develop their prospects, but also a winner…”

    Did you just call a man with a career NHL coaching record of 239-258-91, a man who changed Stanley Cup finalists into cellar dwellers, a man with the personality like that of peat moss a “winner?”

    Jebus, help these poor souls.

    Look, we all know the Leafs are going to be buyers. They’re one of those big market/big money teams (i.e. Detroit, New York, Philadelphia) who are going to survive no matter what the economic climate. I fully expect Toronto to continue to spend a lot of money. But I also expect their spending habits to continue – they’re going to throw cash at the wrong people. You are going to continue to see the likes of Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Tie Domi, and Brian Leetch because that’s what the Leafs do.

    Toronto will be over the salary cap and paying luxury tax on a roster very similar to the one they last put on the ice. Write it down.

    Yet more Leafer delusions:

    “And who knows, with some luck they could win the Sidney Crosby sweepstakes.”

    I will close with a quote from “Super Troopers:”

    “I’ll believe that when me shit turns purple and smells of raspberry sherbet.”

  34. nordiques100 says:

    if you werent illiterate and could read the entire article then you should have already known that i said it was possible that the Leafs would end up with none of those players. I was just mentioning those players that were out there, but of course how could i expect someone like you to know anything.

    If you knew anything about hockey you would know Quinn preaches offence which would suit a guy like Paul Kariya perfectly. Just because the leafs dont trap doesnt mean they dont have a game plan.

    mike rathje is a superior player to chris therien. that was a pretty pathetic comparison. rathje has been a very consistent performer for almost 10 years for the sharks and is a rare commodity in the league offering size, toughness and a presence on defence. therien had a couple of good years in philly and that was it. his career is done. Rathje brings his game every night. and certainly if he plays better against the top end talent of the league i’ll take it.

    again you limited hockey knowledge fools you as Paul Maurice was a winner. he won an ontario hockey league championship. not an easy league to win in and he did it and helped his team get to the memorial cup. a very prestigeous tournament. but again how would i expect you to know that. and helping a team with limited talent like the canes get to the final is a pretty good feat.

    and if you were paying attention to anything that has been going on in the hockey world you will know that with the cap they are talking about no team will be able to go over it. get your facts straight.

    and really all 30 teams will have a shot at sidney crosby. it will be all about luck. you amateurish quote from a terrible movie is a clear indication of how small your brain really is. you know any team from detroit to carolina to philly to atlanta to toronto has a shot at winning the lottery, even if for some teams it may be a small chance. but there is a chance, you will know that luck needs to play a part and any team can get lucky on that day they do the lottery.

    did you fall out of the pessimism tree or something? all i hear from you is no no no no no. christ you sound like a whiny, pathetic mama’s boy beeatch. who are you dandoeagle?

    sorry people. i dont normally bash others on this site but in this case, it had to be done. my article was relatively unbiased, i gave my opinion and was hoping for some intellectual conversation out of it but instead i ended up with this idiotic drivel and simply had to give this ***** a swift big boot to the teeth

  35. PayUpSucka says:

    Don’t even bother Nords, this clown is hands down the biggest moron participating on this site, not once if the four years i’ve been here has the ahole said anything remotely positive about the leafs, and god forbin you say anything about those philly flyers, whom by the way fuc k things up just as royally as TO. Ain’t much difference in 67 and 74 you idiot!

    Just let him ramble on with his same old bull shit. Noone listens to him anyway.

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