Here are some potential interim General Manager candidates for the Leafs.

Hey guys,

Here are some experienced onetime NHL executives who could help the Leafs map out an action plan for the team’s long-term future by becoming the club’s interim General Manager in place of John Ferguson for the remainder of this season.

They include former Columbus Blue Jackets GM Doug Maclean, former Dallas Stars GM Doug Armstrong, former Islanders GM Mike Milbury, former New York Rangers GM Neil Smith, former Leafs GM Cliff Fletcher, former Ottawa Senators GM John Muckler, former Philadelphia Flyers GM Bobby Clarke, former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button, and former Pittsburgh Penguins GM Craig Patrick.

Which of those guys do you like best? Did I forget to mention anyone else?

Personally, I like:

Mike Milbury because he has been an NHL player, head coach, and GM for the Boston Bruins and has served as GM for the New York Islanders. Also, he said that he missed making hockey-related decisions and would be open to a hockey operations job in another organization.

Doug Maclean because he was the former president/general manager and head coach of the National Hockey League’s Columbus Blue Jackets and was instrumental in building their farm system into one of the very best in the NHL. He was also the head coach of the Florida Panthers. Additionally, MacLean coached at the University of New Brunswick, followed by assistant coach positions with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals. He is probably best known for leading a up-start Panther team, featuring goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck, to the Eastern Conference crown in 1996, only to be swept in the Stanley Cup Final (four games to none) by the Colorado Avalanche.

According to Hockey’s Future – #1 NHL Draft & Hockey Prospect Magazine, the Columbus Blue Jackets have the 11th best ranked farm system in the NHL.:

http://www.hockeysfuture.com/nhl_organisation_rankings/?start=6

Strengths:

The Blue Jackets have assembled a fine collection of prospects at both wings, where the team has the greatest depth. With yet another pick in the top ten, they nabbed Czech winger Jakub Voracek seventh overall in the 2007 draft, a power forward who brings both physicality and top notch offensive skill. He joins a promising group of forwards that includes both Derick Brassard and Alex Picard. Additionally, Kris Russell, one of the team’s top defensemen in the system, made the leap to the NHL this season.

Weaknesses:

The emphasis on high-end offensive talent in recent drafts by the Jackets has not brought in the talent to match in other areas. While they have numerous defensemen in the system, there are no potential top pairing NHL starters. With Russell moving on to the NHL and the trade of Adam McQuaid in the offseason, the talent on the backend has been further chipped away. Behind Steve Mason, who is not a sure bet starter, the Jackets have little depth in the net.

Top five prospects:

1. Jakub Voracek (RW), 2. Derick Brassard (C), 3. Kris Russell (D), 4. Joakim Lindstrom (LW), 5. Steve Mason (G).

According to Hockey’s Future – #1 NHL Draft & Hockey Prospect Magazine, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the 19th best ranked farm system in the NHL.:

http://www.hockeysfuture.com/nhl_organisation_rankings/?start=18

Strengths:

At the top of the Leafs prospect depth chart, there is no shortage of elite talent and offensive potential. Justin Pogge appears to be the goalie of the future, and a good one at that. Jiri Tlusty is an elite prospect with top line potential, Robbie Earl could be a top six winger, and Nikolai Kulemin is a boom or bust prospect who could rapidly raise the club’s fortunes. On defense, Anton Stralman has raised a lot of eyebrows and could see significant NHL action this season.

Weaknesses:

With a lack of draft picks over the past few years, depth remains an issue. Dale Mitchell, Tyler Ruegsegger, Chad Rau, Chris DiDomenico, Ben Winnett, and Brent Aubin all have some potential, but are likely depth or role players at best. There is also a lack of size and grit among the forwards. After Stralman, the blue liners in the organization are probably all fifth and sixth defensemen at best. Goaltender is dangerously thin as Toronto appears to have placed all its eggs in Pogge’s basket.

Top five prospects:

Justin Pogge (G), Jiri Tlusty (C), Nikolai Kulemin (LW), Robbie Earl (LW), Anton Stralman (D).