Leaf the Team the way it is?

Upon reviewing some of the interviews with JFJ and Paul Maurice there is one phrase I continue hearing that has peaked my interest.

“We could go into next season with the lineup we have and I would be excited.”

Is this blind faith in a team that has just had two mediocre seasons? Or is this a genuine belief that JFJ has turned this ship around and is finally starting to build this team into a Cup Contender?
This will be long. So if you don’t plan on reading it all fine. Just don’t post about how long it is. I cover all my bases.

Alright. So the major acquisitions this summer, so far, have been Jason Blake, Mark Bell, and Vesa Toskala. Now I’m very much aware that these players have been reviewed over and over here at HTR, but I just wish to give my take on the situation.

This acquisitions have improved our team. -If- we went into next season exactly how we are; have we improved? Lets look at what we lost in comparison to what we gained.

In goal:

We dropped Jean-Sebastien Aubin, a number 2 goaltender who will be lucky if he plays in the AHL next season, who established a 3.43 GAA and a .876 Sv% for 3 wins, 5 losses, and 2 OT losses in 20 games.

We replaced him with a, what I believe will be a great, goaltending tandem. We look at Andrew Raycroft from last year who tied for most wins by a Leaf Goalie but drew all the attention away from that with his record of 37-25-9 in 72 games played with a less than mediocre 2.99 GAA and .894 Sv%. Play him less and don’t ride him so hard and he could be good for 40-50 games with over a .900 Sv% and under a 2.50 GAA. Especially with Vesa Toskala pushing him for the starters spot. Now take a look at Vesa’s numbers: 26-10-1 in 38 games with a 2.35 GAA and a .908 Sv%. While this was in front of a much more coordinated defense he is capable of putting up very similar numbers in Toronto. He too could be good for 40-50 games depending on who takes the reins as the better starter. My money’s on Toskala.

Up front:

We lose Yanic Perrault, Michael Peca, Travis Green, and Jeff O’Neill. Perrault didn’t do much for us after the deadline. We really could have used Peca, and I wouldn’t mind bringing him back for a hometown discount plus a damaged goods discount, but can he really recover fully and play his style of game after a season ending injury? We’ll see come December. Travis Green, while good on the PK didn’t really do much seeing as how our PK was 27th in the league. He was a waiver pickup so I guess we couldn’t expect him to fill Peca’s shoes. Lastly we lost Jeff O’Neill. Good player and I respect him, but I think we have replaced him well enough.

We’ve gained… well. Not too much. But it’s a start! Jason Blake, a 40 goal scorer who will most likely pot somewhere between 25-35 goals this season and be effective as well on the PK. If he can keep up his offensive production like he did last year as well as help out our PK then he’ll be worth the 4mil a year. Also we’ve added Mark Bell to our lineup effectively replacing Jeff O’Neill with a younger, larger version of himself with tremendous upside. Wasn’t Bell previously proclaimed to have a ceiling to be a good first line forward and a floor of a great secondliner? Maybe he only needs a change of scenery for that Mark Bell to break out. Besides, these larger Power Forward types are all the rage this season. Anaheim proved that. We’ll find out sooner or later if it pays off.

On Defense:

Well.. no change here. A few prospects holding the ability to take the reins as 5-6 defense but top 4 are pretty much cemented in there. Personally, I like our defensive situation. McCabe handled himself much better after being taken away from Kaberle’s side and forced to do some work himself for a change and Kubina benefited from being able to play a little more offensively. If Maurice can keep the chemistry brewing between his defensemen they will eventually not look so lost and out of place off of an opponents rush.

With all that said I’d like to offer my take on the Leafs 07/08 lineups since everyone else seems to be going for it. While I agree with most people about their conclusions of Blake being Sundin’s winger, Paul Maurice said numerous times that he would not be glued to Sundin’s left the entire season. Personally I think he would work wonders with a gifted playmaker like Kyle Wellwood. Half of the plays Wellwood created went to shooters like Alexai Ponikarovsky and Nik Antropov who have a decent shot but had trouble finding the back of the net. Blake proved he had no trouble with that last year.

Here’s my take on the lineups.

Blake – Sundin – Antropov
Poni – Wellwood – Tucker
Bell – Stajan – Steen
Deveraux – Pohl – Battaglia
Call-ups: Kilger, Ondrus, Williams

Blake will shift with Poni throughout the season and Bell may get a shot on the top two lines in place of Tucker or Antropov if he starts producing. He may even get a little Powerplay time. Though I see him, this year at least, playing more of a checking/shutdown role with some offensive upside. I hate to see Kilger scratched but his production has declined and it’s time to make room for some of the younger players. Boyd, Johnny, and Bates should get 4th line duty as they showed some great chemistry throughout the season.

Kaberle – Kubina
Colaiacovo – McCabe
Gill – White
Call-ups: Kronwall, Wozniewski, Harrison

That’s right. Same as last year with some subtle changes for certain team matchups I’d say. Each pairing showed some good chemistry together and will just get better. Kaberle does so every year and Kubina may be worth his 5mil this season with the overpayment of most quality defensemen all year as well as, hopefully, a complete and healthy season. McCabe will benefit from having to play more defensively with Carlo and vice versa. White has freedom to play around offensively and looks like a young Kaberle sometimes with Gill holding the backend as best as he can. Sorry Belak, but just because you’re a former first rounder doesn’t mean you -have- to play.

Toskala
Raycroft

Call-ups: Clemmenson, Pogge?

Toskala will probably earn the most playing time and will post a respectable GAA and Sv% while tying or beating 37 wins. Raycroft will play fewer games than he’d like after he fails to hold the starters spot but will regain his composure before the trade deadline in hope of remaining with the team. This of course, is unlikely, but a guy can dream can’t he? Good tandem in my opinion with Clemmenson capable of backing up one or the other should there be an injury or a trade. Pogge will not play in the NHL until 2009-2010 but may have to fill in on the bench sometime before then.

Well, that’s my take on it all so far if we stay just as we are. This is my first post here on HTR and I’m sorry it was so long. I’d like to make a prediction on the 2007/2008 season. I see Toronto finishing 7th in the East but being ousted in the second round.

One last thing. Anyone else think Toronto should “accidently” bomb 2008/2009 by letting the younger key players play larger roles and bringing Pogge in so we can earn some high draft picks and experience for our young guns? Maybe even grab Tavares out of it? Is this what Pittsburgh did to improve so much but no one ever thought a team would lose on purpose? Not like MLSE would lose money. Leafs fans, like myself, show up even if the team is playing terrible. Anyways, just some food for thought.

~Greenleaf


41 Responses to Leaf the Team the way it is?

  1. 68north says:

    staff must be happy to always be mediocre dont you think they owe it to the fans to at least try to become a contender

  2. leaffansareajoke says:

    Owe it to the fans?  Like you guys are nice abou the leafs….

    Leafs are always pretenders because they lack the balls to make moves. 

    If they make the playoffs, they're out in first round. 

  3. leaffansareajoke says:

    Good article and good read i think.

    Well done.

    With Toskala i think the only problem with him is, he's going to be relied on heavily when the D makes all the mistakes they do.  McCabe needs to focus more on D and less on O.  I think if the D can learn to play D, and learn how to kill a damn penalty the leafs COULD be a force in the east.  If they get key injuries than they might as well bag the season.

    If Sundin misses 20+ games, no playoffs.
    If Kaberle misses 20+ games, no playoffs.
    If Toskala doesn't stand on his head and make himself look like the best damn goalie on the face of the earth, no playoffs.

    Next year we'll have the debate, "Now we're screwed with his 4mil salary for another year", "JFJ is a moron", "Toskala blows, Let Raycroft be #1"

    Same old story, different year.

    Good article though =)

  4. Glucker says:

    1st of all… no1 signed Peca yet, and we have room to sign him… we're just waiting till arbitration is over… so we didn't loose him yet…
    also we didn't loose Perreault, him being gone isn't a loss… he was injured the whole time he was here…
    Sundin is retiring soon… we're gonna try to win a cup for him, not bomb any seasons

    and based on an article I saw a few while back, Maurice seems to want to keep the top line together… so, assuming Peca is a Leaf, and we don't make any moves…

    Antropov Sundin Ponikarovsky
    Blake Wellwood Tucker
    Bell Peca Steen
    Kilger Stajan Deveraux

    Kaberle Kubina
    McCabe Colaiacovo
    Gill White

    Toskala
    Raycroft

  5. hatterson says:

    Raycroft didn't stand on his head last year and we were 1 point out of the playoffs.  Kaberle missed 8 games last year, Sundin missed 7.  Wellwood missed 34, Tucker missed 26.

    I don't understand how a team that got better (you can't say Blake and Toskala made them worse) and was only 1 point out of the playoffs, while suffering more games lost to injury and to more important players than any other team, is getting so many ifs about the playoffs.

    The Leafs are a solid playoff team in the 6-8 seed baring crazy injuries (goalies, dmen and forwards)

  6. 68north says:

    yah i know im ahabs fan just trying to be nice cause im in a halfass decent mood

  7. THEGREATHAB says:

    Pretty good article,  however there is a few things I cannot agree with.

    I think your leafs improved in goal,  got weaker on offence (but it shouldnt matter to much because of the goals scored),  but most importantly did not improve on D,  that is what kept them out of the playoffs last year,  and will this year to.  Lets not forget how much help Peca provided to the D,  I do not think Blake will be able to match that.  I think your leafs will finish 10th in the east (for the record I think the Habs will finish 9th),  Their stars are getting older, and injuries will play a part this year.
    As far as Accidently bombing,  not a good idea with the lottery,  also how can you tell a player to slow down,  that would cost Maurice and Ferguson thier jobs.  On that note,  if TO does not make the playoffs this year JFJ is as good as gone.
    In closing,  I hope the Leafs and Habs make the Playoffs,  I would love them to meet each other,  but realistically I dont see it happening.

  8. JuicemaN says:

    Couldn't have said it better myself.

  9. leafmeister says:

    The leafs I guess could get 4th but it is very unlikely. One of us would have to get 4th or take the division. How did we get weaker on offence? We replaced a 20 goal man in O’neil with a 40 goal man in Blake and Bell is an excellent power forward. Our D didnt need improving because it is developing our top 6 is very solid with a good mix of offenceive guys and defence.

  10. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    The difference is Raycroft can in to Toronto with a 3.5 GAA, and has a 3.00 GAA here. Raycroft stunk wherever he played. At least Toskala has post lockout Success under his belt. Toskala might steal a few games as well, which raycroft never did. plus raycroft wont be tired, so he'll perform better on the nights he plays.

    "If Sundin misses 20+ games, no playoffs.
    If Kaberle misses 20+ games, no playoffs.
    If Toskala doesn't stand on his head and make himself look like the best damn goalie on the face of the earth, no playoffs."

    Sundin missed time last season, but the leafs went 4-2-1 over that span. kaberle rarely gets injured. likely another 82 game season for him. Oh, and all raycroft had to do was make the saves he needed and we'd have been a playoff team last year. however, a soft goal a game….

  11. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    i think this team has enough depth and skill to work its way up the east. The 2 goalie system will be ride whoever's hot. The D will be better.

    Consider the Leafs top 6 D was a combined +37, while the rest of the D was a combined -25. So as long as guys like Belak, harrison, Bell(obviously he was traded) dont play we'll be fine. Woz was -1 in 15 games, he's a good 7th guy.

  12. loco42 says:

    Before I comment, don't bash me cause I'm a Habs fan. I know my Habs will probably not make the playoffs, but I'll still enjoy watching them.

    To business…

    I love Habs-Leafs rivalry. Fans from both ides will agree with me 100%. I think the Leafs have improved a lot, especially with Blake as a forward. He's the kind of player that will give Sundin room and finish for him on the wing. Toskala to me is still a big question mark, but I'm leaning to him doing way better than raycroft. But, the 2 goalie system will be great. The only thing I do not understand is why JFJ gave him an extension right away. Shouldn't he have waited? Mark Bell will be let go once his contract expires. He looks lost on the ice. If he can't produce with Thornton, I do not see him produce with anybody else, except Gretzky in his prime, but he could make anybody look good.

    I honestly see the Leafs make the playoffs this year, if they can sign Peca, they would be a force. But, i see them squeaking in, since a lot of eastern teams got better too. I see them in 7th, but that's my opinion.

    Can't wait for the first Habs-Leafs game of the season. I see that one going to shootout, with the Leafs winning that one. But we'll come back the next one 😉

  13. the_word says:

    Pretty much nailed it in terms of what to expect from the Leafs next year. They should be able to squeak into the playoffs and Toskala's performance is the X factor of just how good or how mediocre this team will be.

  14. loco42 says:

    Simply put, Toskala will make or break the Leafs. But I think Toskala will only play 45-50 games, with Raycroft doing the rest.

    Also, I know someone put a Habs-Leafs series in the playoffs. I'd love that. Hope it happens soon.

  15. leaffansareajoke says:

    hahahaa

    nice.. nice..

  16. leaffansareajoke says:

    the D didn't get better, they just got one year older.

    I didn't say they didn't get better, of course they got better.  I'm not a moron, i'd never say they got worse.  But the goaltending will be the same if the D gives up those juicy turnovers this year, like last year.

  17. leaffansareajoke says:

    Thats why they're IF's…

    You blame a single person cause its easier, but i've watched video in the first half of the year when Raycrof tdid everything he could to win the game, and the D left him out to dry.  You can either say "raycroft shoulda got us an extra win" or say "the defense didn't come to play a dozen games this year, maybe we shouldn't be so hard on the kid".

    Not saying Raycroft is awesome, just that at least 50% of the blame is on the Defense.  Another 10% on management.

  18. leaffansareajoke says:

    D needed improvement.

    I still remember all the leaf fans flaming the flyers for having big slow defenseman…. but look at Gill and McCabe.

    Only one thing in the world can make up for all McCabe's mistakes, and thats having god in net.  Since he doesn't like hockey……..

  19. Pony says:

    McCabe is actually one of the fastest skaters on the team clocking in somewheres around 14 seconds a lap. His problem lies in his brain cramps.
    Maurice himself said it last year, McCabe's errors come when he tries to do to much or make too fancy a play and gets burned (ex Jordan Staal). When McCabe keeps it simple and plays fundemental hockey which he does do from time to time he can be a dominating defensemen.

    Hopefully another year with Maurice will help him stick to the basics, time will tell.

  20. Hoondog2 says:

    What people fail to realize is the Leafs D didn't play much as a whole unit last year.  Kaberle, Kubina, White, Colaiacovo, were all out of the line up at different times, for extended amounts of time throughout the season.  The short time that the D was healthy, and the pairings were finally set, the D actually looked good as a whole.  Staying healthy will be key, and getting more maturity from Colaiacovo, and White will be an upgrade in itself.

  21. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Interesting stat.

    Gill, McCabe, kaberle, White, Colaiacovo, Kubina were all +'s, a combined +37.

    Woz, Bell(when on the leafs), Harrison, Belak were a combined -25.

  22. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    if we put a stick in goal, the stick will do everything it can to make the saves. however the stick CAN'T move, so it still stinks as a goalie. Raycroft CAN'T make the save high glove side, he CAN'T follow the play fast enough, as hard as he tries he is not an NHL starter.

    I say 30% management, 20% Defense, 50% goalie.

  23. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    every D gives up turnovers, but Raycroft was the only goalie I saw give up turnovers all over the place.

  24. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    I think the top 4 in the east will likely be:

    Ottawa
    Pittsburgh
    Atlanta
    Rangers

    then its everyone else fighting for a playoff spot.

    my prediction for the next 4 is

    Buffalo
    Carolina
    Toronto
    New Jersey

    Tampa
    Habs
    Philly
    Florida
    Bruins
    Caps
    Isles

    spots 6-11 are interchangeable.

  25. nordiques100 says:

    they've definitely improved. bell, blake and toskela are upgrades over green, perreault, oneill and aubin.

    if they can improve themselves even more….they should go for it. a top 6 forward would help. at least a forward who can play on the top 3 lines should be acquired. doing nothing is the worse case scenario.

    but its not all about the talent.

    coaching staff needs to be better. the special teams were below average. the coaches need to improve that part of the game plan. the PP was predictable. maybe blake will improve it some but he's like tucker. they need to mix it up a bit other than kaberle to mccabe…hammer time.  

    the PK was terrible. toskela may improve it some. if they did bring back peca that would help too but the plan of attack set up by the coaches for the PK was poor. keith acton is running this and the PK has gotten worse each season. it looks like the penalty killers are in between being aggressive and staying in a passive box thus leading to lots of confusion. the coaches need to clean this up and perhaps make the PK more disciplined.

    chemistry will be important too. perhaps blake and sundin will play together. that means antropov and ponikarovsky are going to have to find a way to be productive not playing with sundin. those players were able to produce getting good ice time and playing with a top talent. can they do so perhaps playing iwth mark bell? or wellwood? i think antropov will be ok but pony always seems to disappear when he isnt playing with sundin.

    they'll need to decide on D as well who plays with who. kubina seemed much more comfortable with kaberle…..but so did mccabe and vice versa.  i thikn mccabe though played much better without kaberle than kubina who seemed a bit out of it when he got paired with someone else. injuries played a part in it but i think they changed things up too much that it led to too many mixups and mishaps in their own zone. that is why gill and white who played all year together seemed to be their steadiest pair on D last season.

    and lets face it, the east is very tight. you have ottawa, pittsburgh, the rangers and buffalo as probably the 4 best teams in the east.

    you know for sure that at least 1 southeast team will make it. taht leaves 3 spots open for anyone else.

    there is very little that separates toronto with the rest of the east. if there is any way they can gain an edge by imrproving their roster they need to do it. sure the team just missed out by 1 point last year but with the way teams have improved in the east, i thikn the leafs are going to need a few more points than last year to be close.

  26. jarcpitre says:

    I agree with your lines for one thing. But just wondering if you think that Steen or Stajan will be gone to make room for Bates. I also believe eventually Raycroft will be moved, but I hope we do it in time to sign Peca. I hope the Leafs try to figure out a way to keep Peca and work around the rules like NYR did.

    Cheers,
    Ray

  27. the_word says:

    I think an issue that gets overlook is the forwards commitment to defense. That killed us on the PK and is another reason player like Gill and McCabe are unfairly made scapegoats. A lot of PK struggles were a result of the inability of the forwards to contain the shot from the point, you can't blame the blueline for the responsibilities of the forwards. 5 on 5, again its an issue, the Leafs have forwards that struggle to get the puck out of the zone (i.e. Alexander Steen) and aren't willing to make defensive sacrifices and block shots (Ibid). Stajan, Poni and Sundin were among the few bright spots in terms of two way forwards. The Leafs as a whole had defensive issues. It shouldn't all be pinned on the blueline and Raycorft (although he seldom bailed us out of those mistakes).

  28. LEAFS877 says:

    Dude there is no fcking way that the habs will finish ahead of the leafs.

    The leafs will be in 6th, the Bruins will take 9th, and the Habs likely have the 10th spot.

    Im glad that the Habs got rid of Aebischer though.
    But it still don't see Halak and Huet winning a lot of games this year.
    And Boston has a decent goalie but a straight up weak team.

  29. brianc689 says:

    theres a possibility that stajan would be moved to free up room/money on the roster, but there is no way steen gets moved to free up a spot

  30. habsgod says:

    you say that the habs won't finish ahead of the make me laughs or the bruins!well i'll tell you this the habs have better goaltending than both the leafs and briuns!! vesa sievkla and manny fernadez are both funnels! mark bell is more an eginma than a power forward yeah blake might be agood signing for you guys but dont expect more 40 goal seasons id take 25 at this point of his career! plus you guys keep getting older!not younger which is the way to build a cup contender not by adding washed up old geezers by bring them to there retirement home also your defence needs needs a lot of work! the only good one you have is kaberle the rest are stiffs! so the habs also have a couple of other things that the make me laughs don't have that is a g.m. with a brain and smarts and also we have cap room! so,yes i think the habs will finish ahead of the leafs and bruins respectively!

  31. barsmith says:

    I know many people will think I am joking but I truelly believe that the leafs are stanley cup contenders. First of all if you listen to any of the players last year you would know they truelly believe that they are 1 or 2 players away. Well they are not going to msay it publically but you know they are talking about goaltending.
    Lets look at thre facts from last year. the leafs scored just as many goals as Anaheim,detroit, San jose.  so scoring wasnt a problem yet we did get better with the addition of Blake and maybe Bell. Not to mention that Wellwood ,Steen , and Stajan should be better this year.
    So herein the problem is goals givin up. Since each of our top defensemen were + shows thta they are more then capable of holding their own. Sure we may give up a few scoring chances but thatsa the price you pay for being aggressive in the opponents zone . So if we get better then average goaltending I think we could climb at least a measley 10 points which puys us over the 100 point mark and close to the division top.
    remeber that Buffalo lost 2 top players and depended on Miller way too much anyway so I expect them to drop big time. Ottawa lost a couple of players , so they arent as good and so will drop as well. No other team in this division have improved like the Leafs so I say Trade Raycroft get peca (which willimprove our PK) and then we will see come trade deadline what we have. I am guessing around first place in th division.

  32. FarFromFreedom says:

    HA! .. im a big Leaf fan and support them 100% but realistically speaking .. The Leafs are not Stanley Cup contenders nor will they be for another 5 years. There good enough to make the playoffs and maybe get to the 2nd round but Toskala wont carry them to the final 2 but hey what do i care i just want some freaking playoff hockey for the buds .. god i miss it…

  33. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Fernandez is better than Huet(who remember hasn't ever played a full season).

    The Leafs did get a year older, but only one player is over 35, and nobody can call him a "washed up old geezer"

    JFJ is a bad GM, but Gainey aint much better. You've got over 10 mil in cap room, but all the players worth spending money on are gone.

  34. superman1914 says:

    you really thing Toronto as a better team than Phily or Tampa, your just being bias

  35. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    i said that spots 6-11 are interchangeable. and the Leafs have goaltending, Philly and Tampa do not.

  36. loco42 says:

    I'll agree with you on the Tampa comment, but…

    I think Philly can get some goaltending. Biron has taking the starting role much more that Toskala. I'll agree, thwy are both question marks, and hey, you never know. Biron was number one for awhile in Buffalo. At least 2 years. Biron also has more experience than Toskala. Granted, Toskala played great when he had the chance, can he handle the whole workload and pressure in Toronto. We'll have this discuss again once we are well into the next season. Cheers!

  37. habsgod says:

    look at the numbers huet is always in thetop 5-6in save percentage and if he didn't get hurt would have been in the top two or three like the previuos season ,so no comparison huet is the better goaltender and he didn't even play in a defensive team like minnesota also if fernandez was that good he'wouldn't have lost his starting job with minnesota fernandez is marginally better than tim thomas! as for gainey being not much better than ferguson i think you'd better wake-up!blue and white! gainey has something that he won as a g.m. that ferguson will never win (lord stanley mug) and also,!if gainey and ferguson ever got fired gainey would be hired in 24 hours as where ferguson wouldn't even get so much as a second look! as a n.h.l.g.m. gainey is in the top 5 gm.'s in the league!ask other team's fans if you had a chance to hire gainey or ferguson as your team's g.m 100% would tell you that they'd take bob gainey!!just like the leafs did before they had to settle for second choice and hired ferguson!!!

  38. habsgod says:

    look at the numbers huet is always in thetop 5-6in save percentage and if he didn't get hurt would have been in the top two or three like the previuos season ,so no comparison huet is the better goaltender and he didn't even play in a defensive team like minnesota also if fernandez was that good he'wouldn't have lost his starting job with minnesota fernandez is marginally better than tim thomas! as for gainey being not much better than ferguson i think you'd better wake-up!blue and white! gainey has something that he won as a g.m. that ferguson will never win (lord stanley mug) and also,!if gainey and ferguson ever got fired gainey would be hired in 24 hours as where ferguson wouldn't even get so much as a second look! as a n.h.l.g.m. gainey is in the top 5 gm.'s in the league!ask other team's fans if you had a chance to hire gainey or ferguson as your team's g.m 100% would tell you that they'd take bob gainey!!just like the leafs did before they had to settle for second choice and hired ferguson!!!

  39. 92-93 says:

    certainly, a case can be made to leave this team as it is.

    it is not a bad team right now.

    but it is a mediocre one that will struggle to get into the playoffs.

    there are upgrades, but the long term costs/cap costs of those upgrades are still left to some debate.

    if the leafs can improve they should do it via trade and trading a guy like Stajan – or any of their young forwards – should NOT be an option unless we are seeing someone like Marleau coming back the other way.

    Trading Raycroft can only make sense if its to sign another back-up like Auld (who i am surprised is still out there) and to free up cap space. but i like the Raycroft-Toskala tandem.

    There are no untouchables on this team (except Kaberle of course). I am not enamoured with this team with the exceptions of some of the young forwards (especially Steen and Wellwood), Sundin, and Kaberle. If JFJ can improve it via trade, then great (even if it means trading the aforementioned).

    but its easier said than done, and JFJ is not a creative GM (like Lowe, Burke) or a consistently good GM (like Holland, LouLam).

    Oh, and if you really want to sign Peca, do NOT trade Stajan, just waive Belak and sign Peca. simple as that.

  40. 92-93 says:

    an example of how the team can still be improved via trades:

    1) Trade Ian White, Chad Kilger and a 2008 2nd rounder to Colorado for Svatos and a 2009 4th rounder.

    The first reaction to this trade might be that the leafs are trading a 5-6 D-guy and a 4th liner to Colorado for Svatos. However, that viewpoint would be too ignorant or narrow to be left alone. First, White is a potential top-4 D-man (if he isn't already) and his passing skills ALONE are valuable to Colorado or any team.  Colorado needs some depth on the left side and Kilger is an affordable addition there. Finally, the 2nd rounder is something that would put this deal over the top IMO. Finally, Svatos is an RFA next year, while White is signed for the next 3 years – meaning more stability for the Avs in terms of this deal.

    On the other hand, the leafs get a forward who is potential top-6 forward material (if he isn't already), who is coming off a sophmore jinx year after scoring 30-plus goals in his rookie year. Svatos fills a depth issue when it comes to young, skilled forwards playing in Toronto. The fourth rounder in 2009 replaces the one they lost to SJ in the Toskala deal. A spot is opened up on the blueline for one of Stralman, Pilar, or Wozniewski to step in. The Leafs clear about 550K from the $1 million they already have.

    2) Camilleri, Cloutier, and a 2008 3rd round pick to the Leafs in exchange for Tucker, Raycroft, and Kronvall.

    The Kings get a fiesty, game-changing winger who would play well beside Handzus or O'Sullivan and is signed long-term to a relatively cheap deal (considering his production and his effort). They also get Raycroft, who won a Calder and 37 games (something Cloutier has never done) and save $1.1 million between the two goalie's contracts. Camilleri is an RFA who could leave for nothing in the next year or so. Finally, they add a young defenceman who has some significant upside and hasn't been give a chance yet in Toronto.

    For Toronto, the leafs do add $1.1 million in goalie salary and Cloutier – like Raycroft – is signed for this year and next year. He is someone that they'll have to dump or waive to the Marlies (and bring up Clemmensen). In terms of salary, lets assume Camilleri is awarded $3.5 million for one year, the Leafs would be adding $1.1 million. They would also add a 3rd rounder, which would ease the sting of the 2nd rounder they lost.

    ———————–

    With the $1 million they have cleared from the cap, the Leafs could still sign Peca, if Belak is waived (which should be done regardless). However, I think it would be just as beneficial to leave that space as a buffer.

    The key for the Leafs in both of these deals bring in young, potential top-line forwards even if it means taking on a bad contract or losing quality players like Tucker or young players like White or Kronvall. Pick-wise, they are not worse off (gain a pick in 2009, drop down a round in 2008), and cap-wise its is status-quo (assuming the Camilleri award is $3.5 million). The key is to get these young forwards and RFAs – Camilleri, Svatos, Stajan, Wellwood, Steen – under contract long-term by the end of the year.

    It would give them incentive to trade the likes of Antropov, Cloutier, Gill, Bell, Kubina, and some of the 4th-liner forwards (Battaglia, Pohl, Devereaux) in order to free up that necessary space to sign what will be the future offensive lines in Toronto for the next few years. Indeed, the forward lines are as young and promising as they've ever been in Toronto:

    Blake————-Sundin———Wellwood
    Steen————Camilleri——–Svatos
    Poni—————Stajan———-Antropov
    Kilger————Devereaux——-Battaglia
    [Pohl]

    Kaberle—————————-Kubina
    McCabe—————————-Coliacovo
    Gill———————————Pilar/Stralman/Wozniewski

    ——————-Toskala——————–
    [Cloutier]

  41. 92-93 says:

    my bad.

    Camilleri will likely be awarded $4.5 million to $5 million per season for each of the next two years by the arbiter.

    Meaning that the $1 million in cap space proposed above will be eaten up and that Belak would absolutely HAVE TO BE WAIVED.

    that still sounds good in my books. If I were JFJ, I'd let Camilleri strut his stuff this year, see what he has and if it is impressive, I'd try to sign him beyond the 2008-2009 season for a long term, 5-year deal. If not, you still have him for 2008-2009 as a trade chip.

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