Categorizing the Leafs

When you look at the Leafs roster, you can tell that it is not a Brian Burke type team yet. Not big, not physical, they don’t have his skilled guys in the top 6, hard hat guys in bottom 6, etc. Here is a look at the Leafs current roster, and who qualifies as a “Brian Burke” type player, and who will likely be traded.

Starting with the forwards….

Nik Antropov- YES- Nik Antropov is an ideal Brian Burke player, he is big, and would work nicely on any top 6. However, his value is through the roof right now and will most likely be traded sometime before the deadline.

Matt Stajan- NO- He is playing a new scoring role this year, but I doubt that can last too long. He is good on a regular bottom 6, but not physical enough to pass for Burke. He may be traded, if Burke thinks he can keep up his scoring than he may last as a top 6 forward, but Burke may just strike while the irons hot and get a big return for Stajan.

Alexei Ponikarovsky- NO- If he could decide whether he were a top 6 forward or a bottom 6 forward than he might make the cut, but he does not score enough for a top 6, and is not physical enough to make the cut for a bottom 6. He will probably be traded.

Niklas Hagman- YES- So far he has proven an ability to play either, he can skate, score, and kill penalties. He is not overly physical but that is made up for by an incredible work ethic. He will absolutely not be traded.

Mikhail Grabovski- NO- He is not a Brian Burke type player, but he is having a pretty good season and Burke would have a hard time justifying not keeping him around. If he can score and stay on the top 6, than he may be kept around for the long term. He will most likely not be traded.

Jason Blake- YES- Hard to believe I know, but Burke loves speedy Americans on his top 6. This could work out if Blake were a top 6 forward, but he isnt. If he can be traded, he will be traded.

Lee Stempniak- YES- Same deal as Blake, speedy American. He is struggling with the Leafs thus far, but he has potential to stick around on the top 6. He will most likely not be traded unless the right deal comes along.

Dominic Moore- YES- Incredible work ethic, great character guy, and is putting up decent points. Without a doubt one of JFJ’s best moves. He may be traded, he could probably fetch a good return if traded to the right team.

Nikolai Kulemin- YES- He could work out either way, as a top 6 or as a bottom 6. He has the physical play to be a bottom 6, and the scoring potential to be a top 6. Burke is not historically a fan of Russians though. He will not be traded.

John Mitchell- NO- Does not score enough for the top 6, does not add enough of the other elements for the bottom 6. He won’t be traded by himself, but he may be the finishing touches in a blockbuster or something along those lines.

Jeremy Williams-YES- If he can become a top 6 forward than he is perfect for Burke, if not, than he does not add enough to the team to make it on the bottom 6. I believe he can become a top 6 forward, if he hasnt already. He will probably not be traded.

Jamal Mayers- YES- Perfect for the bottom 6 forwards. Burke will not trade him.

Ryan Hollweg-YES – Same deal as Mayers. Burke would probably trade him, if their was remotely a market for a cheap-shot artist along his lines.

Jiri Tlusty- NO- He can still be a top 6 forward, but if Burke feels that their is the right deal out there, than Tlusty may be in a package to get the right player.


Tomas Kaberle- YES- Burke says that he likes skill on his top 4. Every team needs a good puck mover, and Kaberle may not be physical, but he still moves the puck with the best of them. However, he will probably be traded because of the return he could fetch. This is of course if he decides to waive.

Pavel Kubina- YES- He has reached a comfort zone in Toronto, he can put up decent points and is competent defensively. As for the trades, if he decides to waive, than he will be traded.

Ian White- NO- He is not good enough overall to make any teams top 4, and certainly not defensive enough to be on the 3rd pairing. If he is traded it will be in a package, the market would be minimal for a defensmen like White.

Jeff Finger-NO- If his salary was that of a 5-6 defensemen than he would be perfect, but his being paid as a top 4, which he isnt. No trades, because no team would be willing to take on his salary.

Mike Van Ryn-YES- He has a good salary and is putting up decent numbers. He could play on most teams top 4. He will probably be traded though, simply because the Leafs are rebuilding.

Luke Schenn- YES- What can I say about this kid? He will be on the Leafs top pairing for years to come. He is absolutely untouchable.

The goalies are hard to judge so I will just say this, if the right trade is out there for Toskala, than Burke will make a deal. If not, than he wont.

21 Responses to Categorizing the Leafs

  1. pezzz says:

    interesting article, to say the least.

    good job.

  2. cam7777 says:

    Nice article.

    Disagree about a couple of the overviews though.  Ian White is a plus 7, has a pair of game winning goals, and could probably quarterback a pretty decent powerplay given more dominant forwards.  Plus, he is extremely affordable at only 850k.  If he moves, it will be in a package for someone big, otherwise why would we bother.

    Same with Dominic Moore, his value to the Leafs is much greater than it is to anyone else, and so that means he should stay.  Same goes for John Mitchell…he's young and could still become something more than he is, so it makes more sense to keep him then get virtually nothing for him.  He's not costing us anything. 

    I have a hard time deciding what I think should be done with guys like Mike VanRyn and Matt Stajan who are performing very well, (Stajan now on pace for 73 points, and VanRyn being very solid), especially since they are Ontario boys who Want to play in Toronto.  I realize it's not up to them, but Burke is the kind of GM who would find that quality endearing, and I'm sure their improved play has something to do with just that.  They want to stay, so they'll play their hearts out.  Probably not worth trading either of them.

    I'm not opposed to trading Grabovski, as much as I like what we've seen so far.  He could be very talented, or he could start to flop.  He's streaky regardless.  Burke put up with that kind of player for Teemu Selanne, but Teemu is one of the game's all time greats.  I could see Grabovski being shipped somewhere like Columbus for Raffi Torres and a 1st (that's potentially a pretty high pick).  With Brassard out for the season, Grabovski fills that slot pretty nicely.  Torres is overpaid, but a Burke kind of player, and in Grabovski Columbus gets some offense for their playoff push without sacrificing youth.

    And also, I've said it before, but I hope if Antropov is traded they are smart enough to trade him to someone who can't afford to resign him.  Vancouver is a good option, as they'll be busy trying to resign the Sedin twins and figuring out their Mats Sundin situation.  Pittsburgh and NYR are other good options, as they clearly would be bringing him on strictly as a retnal.  There's a good oppurtunity with Antropov to get something good for him, then resign him on July 1st. 

  3. leafy says:

    I must say I'm really impressed with the Leafs lately. Not because they're winning, but HOW they're winning.  Out-shooting and out-chancing opponents almost every game.

    If the Leafs had a bona fide 1st line superstar, they could be a dangerous team. No joke.

    Re the players, I agree with Cam7777. Ian White and Domenic Moore are keepers.  Under-rated and under-paid.  Actually Ian White is now a +9, after Monday's game.

    On the flip side, I fail to understand the friggin big deal with Jeff Finger.  Am I missing something here?  There's nothing remarkable about anything he does and he seems to do everything in super-slow motion.  He is WAY WAY over-paid.  I'd dump that contract first chance I get!

  4. cam7777 says:

    I know you can't run a team based on things like this, but have you noticed that Finger is just a legitimately nice guy?  In all his interviews and stuff, it's refreshing to hear someone like him over McCabe and Tucker who I always thought were kinda dinks.  He seems like he would be a good dressing room guy, which might be part of it.  He's just happy to be part of an organization like the Maple Leafs, and I guess that counts for something.

  5. GoLeafs13 says:

    it is refreshing but good interviews don't block shots or smash people against the boards

  6. the_word says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else not want to acknowledge Stajan and Williams play as to not jinx two players playing above their heads?

  7. KingCanada says:

    Well if you quadrupled my salary Id be happy as hell too…lol

  8. cam7777 says:

    good point, ha.

  9. KingCanada says:

    Hopefully Justin Pogge plays so well that we CANT send him back down to the AHL. This would then leave us with an extra goaltender (Toskala) who is signed till 2010. If were lucky a contender will loose their starting goaltender to injury and will need to replace him. Who knows…maybe Brodeur doesnt even comeback this year and NJ become desperate.

    Commonnnn groin surgeries…lol

    Possible goaltenders available for contenders…

    Vesa Toskala (TOR) might just cost a 2nd rounder
    Kari Lethonen (ATL) will be much more expensive then Vesa, not neccesarily better
    Dwayne Roloson (EDM) could be the cheapest alternative

    So basically there isnt many available goaltenders out there so maybe the aforementioned teams may gouge the buyers for all their worth haha. There is also the possibility that Edmonton is in the run for playoffs and dont trade Roloson.

    Lots of intangibles so everything is still TBD but damn right I will speculate!

  10. KingCanada says:

    Stupid HTR…I had paragraphs seperated but it just threw it all into one….

  11. KingCanada says:

    Williams has one hell of a shot wow.  It seems everyone of his goals are a top corner or a quick blast that fools the goalie.  Remind anyone of Mogilny??

  12. leafy says:

    Your point is well taken.  Apparently they kept Belak around for years because he's a great guy in the dressing room.  But boy, that's a lot of money spent on one player with marginal talent.

  13. CoachGilmour says:

    White is a keeper. Way underated. Burke has a template but he has to work with what he has.

  14. leafy says:

    Mogilny yes. And possibly even shades of Mike Bossy. Ok, maybe that's a stretch, but Williams quick release and accurate shot brings back memories of The Boss.

  15. leafy says:

    I'm with you on Stajan, he's not a bona fide point per game player.  That's why I think the Leafs should seriously explore what he might fetch on the trade block.  Maybe you can package him along with another player and take a run at Kovalchuk.  His value will never be higher.

  16. leafy says:

    I'm looking at the overall point standings right now.  The problem is that most teams have goaltending.

    In the East, every team in the top 8 has goaltending.  As you said, maybe New Jersey may deem Brodeur a write-off.  Then below the top 8, there's Buffalo and Florida, both with good goalies.  Then there's Ottawa…but they're rivals.  I don't see them trading good assets to Toronto.

    In the West, teams 1 to 9 have good goaltending.  Maybe Colorado could be a target, and we need to see how Budaj plays down the stretch.  Los Angeles has really had goalie problems this year.  Labarbara has not been very good.  But the problem is that LA is another possible high-draft team, they proably wouldn't give you a 1st pick for Toskala.

    So in short, Toskala could be showcased for Ottawa, Colorado, Los Angeles, and maybe New Jersey.

    That's a pretty small market….so the Leafs probably won't get too much for Toskala unfortunately.

  17. KingCanada says:

    Oh I know theres currently not much of a goaltender market.  Im just waiting on injuries.  They happen EVERY year, and this year should be no exception.  So far the only possible partner is NJ IMO.  Maybe even Vancouver if Luongo doesnt recover or re-injures himself.

  18. Kramer says:

    Tonight's weather proves once again that aliens are controlling our climate. Powerful gamma rays from outer space are sent to earth by martians.  No such thing as global warming.  Aliens have been messing with our weather for 20 years.

  19. sikboy21 says:

    Everyone is always hollering for a trade when a player's worth is low. The Leafs let in a lot of goals but that's not Vesa Toskala's fault – he has to deal with way too many quality scoring opportunities – even Luongo, Brodeur, or Hasek in their prime would have bad seasons under those conditions… this is a team sport, you know. The fans jump on board the "next great thing" wagon way too early. Pogge is not a divine goaltending solution. We gave up a lot to get Toskala.  He is a good goalie in a bad situation. Even if enough braindead fans start yammering for Pogge to be the starter, Toskala will be right there to handle the workload when Pogge also proves to be unable to handle what the Leafs let come at him.

  20. leafy says:

    I see what you're saying and for the most part you're right.

    However, let's be honest here.  Toskala's play has slipped this year.  Is this the same Vesa Toskala we watched last season?  Hardly.  There is no question Vesa is not as sharp as last year.

  21. sikboy21 says:

    You're right there. I bet it's hard to stay motivated on this squad. 

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