Leafs situation = playoffs? stanley cup? or big fat yard sale?

Are the Leafs even better off than last season? Are they going anywhere this year? Did they make the right move? Well if you want to know what I think read on…

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a team that has struggled since the new Collective Bargaining Agreement was put into place. They have had useless players with high salaries dominate their cap space, not to mention the cap used to be only 36 million. Many teams struggled to find the money to sign their stars to contracts and this led to the odd Stanley Cup Finals in 2005-2006 with the Edmonton Oilers vs. Carolina Hurricanes. But now it is different, the cap has gone up to a staggering 50 million dollars, which really brings back memories of the Leafs of old, who spent around 60 million a season on players who didn’t really help them (i.e. Domi and Francis). But are the Leafs even better off than last season? Are they going anywhere this year? Did they make the right move? Well if you want to know what I think read on…

With all the hype going into July 1st about possible signings the Leafs were going to get it was almost like signing one of them would ensure the Stanley cup would be in Toronto next year. But honestly that’s not happening because we just don’t have the depth or speed. Many expected Ryan Smyth and Paul Kariya to come and then maybe with Paul Kariya here already Teemu Selanne would bring his 40 goals to Toronto for a cheap price as well. WRONG. The Leafs apparently had their eyes on another 40 goal scorer, Jason Blake. They had already made a huge move acquiring Toskala and Bell from San Jose for the 13th pick (which could have been Cheripanov!!!) Now that the Leafs have Bell, Blake, and Toskala are they really that much better from last year…the answer is yes. They are that much better. If there was one thing they lacked last year consistently it was scoring and even goaltending at times.

Now they have Blake, who probably won’t score 40 goals this year, but will bring speed and grit to the team. He will hopefully open up some room for Mats Sundin who had trouble scoring last year because he was the only legitimate goal scorer. They also have Mark Bell, a former 20 goal scorer who was supposed to be really amazing for the Sharks, but that fell through and became a throw in, in the Toskala deal. He should provide some scoring for the second line this year with Wellwood and Tucker.

Now to Toskala, who is known as one of the better backups in the league. Some have compared him to Kipprusoff, in the sense that he has been behind another goalie and is waiting to blossom. Others compare him to Mikka Noronen, who was supposed to be the next Kipprusoff, but ended up leaving the NHL. With Toskala they get a goalie that is fast and has an amazing glove and also is making 4 million starting next season. They have truly filled some of their voids, but they still need to get one more scorer. To do that they need to relieve their cap of 2 million dollar disappointment Andrew Raycroft. Although he had 37 wins, he also let in some really soft goals and looked shaky at the end of the year. They will have to find a team to send him to because with him at backup this also causes problems for their developing Goalie Justin Pogge. The Leafs definitely want Pogge to get in on some NHL games this year, but to do that they need to get rid of Raycroft. One option is to put him on waivers and when he clears, they get to take his money off the cap.

Now for my season prediction. The leafs will have a team that will get some wins and make the playoffs. Everyone knows that last year they were unlucky that New Jersey couldn’t beat the Islanders in the final game of the season. But this year they should get in soundly at the 5th or 6th spot. But I shouldn’t speak to soon because teams like the Bruins and Flyers have vastly improved and should compete for high playoff spots. The leafs can certainly not cruise through this season like they did before the salary cap was put in place, but they take it a bit easier than last year considering they can allow 25 shots and not have 6 goals against. They should get through a round or two in the playoff, but don’t expect them to have the skill or gas to win a Cup. But Ferguson has prepared his team to go far in the playoff two or three years down the road when the cap will raise and they will have more free salary to get better players. Plus the leafs should add a big name player at the deadline to help them win. Also, I think they could sign Mike Comrie or Alexei Yashin before this free agency period ends. Who knows what is to come, any other signings should just help them fill up seats come playoff time.

This is my first article so please leave as many comments on what you think about it. Below is what I think the leafs lineup could look like:




Jason Blake Mats Sundin Alex Ponikarovsky

Mark Bell Kyle Wellwood Darcy Tucker

Alex Steen Nik Antropov Bates Battaglia

Chad Kilger Matt Stajan John Pohl


Boyd Devereaux



Thomas Kaberle Pavel Kubina

Bryan McCabe Carlo Colaiacovo

Ian White Hal Gil


Andy Wozneiski

Jay Harrison


Vesa Toskala

Andrew Raycroft

Justin Pogge

63 Responses to Leafs situation = playoffs? stanley cup? or big fat yard sale?

  1. kabby-4-kaptian says:

    to the guy who postedthis above, WHY THE ***** WOULD WE WANT ELIAS FOR STEEN AND TUCKER! i know it sounds good at first but think about it. Steen has the potential top be a first line winger, last year her played a more of a defensive role so his numbers declined a bit. plus if we traded tucker and steen to newjersey we give up our heart and soul player who would in my opinion play with a arm cut off if it meant hed help push for a playoff spot. Steen is gunna be great just needs a little bit of time to progress. Elias would be a stupid move. Everyone complains about us having guys like sundin who make 5.5 million for 76 points. Well hate to break it to you but elais only had 69 points last yeah while making 7.5 MILLION! we can't afford that. even if we sent tucker,and steen over that would only send them about 4 million dollars and we would get back 7.5! i would love to have elias in a leafs uniform considering he does play a defensive system in the devils uniform and could probally put up close to 90 points along side sundin and blake. if this trade were to happen, a little more realistic version would be like say,

    To Toronto: Patrick Elias

    To New Jersey: Stajan,kubina,kronwall and 2nd round pick in 2008

  2. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    Simple enough.  Will do.  At least you didn't paint yourself into a corner as badly as have2belief did.  We shall see.

  3. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    I will have to assume you ARE 12, based on your "gaynadiens" reference and do myself a favour by ignoring your immature assed comments from here on in.  Punk.

  4. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    Cool. I will save this. It still looks like a pretty wide gap to me, but I guess we just have to be a little patient and we'll see how it develops. I'll make my own prediction and announce right here that the gap will be 2 spots at most (like I said in a prior post, there's really not much difference in talent on both teams to be sure either way) and the Habs will be looking down on the Leafs by playoff time. Whether or not we make it is too much of a question mark at this time. With the new acquistions on both sides, there's no telling what it will do to team chemistry. We've all seen in the past what a bad fit certain players can be (Samsonov, Lindros, etc…).

  5. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    As organized and realistic post as I’ve seen so far. You have accurately stated what many Leafs fans are unwilling to do: objectively assess the situation – sans bluecoloured glasses – based on past experiences, current lineup and what you have on the farm and prospects. Well done.

  6. DoubleDown says:

    said the guy who spends enough time on these sites to recognize when and where I post…nice

    come on, get mommy to help you get your helmet back on before you hurt yourself…

  7. elite89 says:

    I mostly agree with your comments that they are better this year compared to last …. but their potential is just as limited as the past couple years.

    New NHL means… team success begins with a strong core and foundation. That which is the product of good drafting and development over a 5-10 year period. A team has to have a quality and consistent foundation of developing talent which can filter through the system and develop into roles as players above them finish up their careers or become too expensive. Teams like Detroit, New Jersey, Ottawa, and even Dallas and Colorado have been able to do this which is why i can count on one hand the amount of times theyve missed the playoffs COMBINED in the past 10 years. 

    Where Fedorov, Yzerman, and Shanahan moved on Datsyuk and Zetterberg have taken over with the help of other young players with potential like Franzen, Filpulla, Grigorenko, Kronwall, etc.

    Where Stevens, Gomez, Mogilny, have moved on Elias, Parise, Martin etc have taken over with the help of Brodeur.

    Ottawa you lose Hossa, Chara etc and they bring in guys like Spezza, Volchenkov, Emery etc.

    Colorado and Dallas have followed similar paths….

    All of these teams have been able to redevelop their cores and have a strong and consistent transition of players from within. FA's and trades are more to bolster or fill in gaps or roles to add onto the core and not suplement it.

    This is why Toskala and Blake are going to make the team better.. but they can only do so much now and will not do enough in the long run. This teams road back to success is the long road. Their developing core isn't good enough and thats because of their poor drafting and development the past 5-10 years.

    Fergusen has made some good moves but they will only benefit the team so much during his tenure. He doesnt have enough support or confidence from fans and the organization to be able to make this team good in the long run.. which would have to start now with the collection of draft picks and savvy development. There are no two ways about it. 

    When an organization is able to develop its core and foundation successfully it can find a comfort zone. Quality drafting and development can produce a cycle of players integration into the NHL as others leave. It becomes a cycle with rhythm and consistency. 

    Fergusen was cursed with a team and organization that, because it was so poor at drafting and development pre-lockout, was in an even worse situation post-lockout when the success of a team became more heavily weighted on its past and future ability to draft and develop. So rather than take the long road and make efforts to repair a poor system and set the foundation for future success, he made flashy and poor moves like signing McCabe to an undeserving contract, signing Kubina at an inflated price, trading away prospects and picks for players like Peca, O'Neil, Raycroft, Gill, etc, and now trying to undue his mistakes with more short term fixes.

    It has become a vicious circle. Fans in Toronto like to see big names and flashy moves. This explains McCabe, Kubina, Peca, O'Neil, Raycroft, Toskala, Blake, Lindros, Allison, etc etc. Not making these moves would have caused fans to be unhappy, but in the end these are the moves that are going to cost Fergusen his job. Has McCabe and Kubina provided the ability to help this team as guys like Pronger, Niedermayer, Thornton, Lecavalier, etc have for their team at the same price? Did Raycroft backstop this team to the playoffs and success last year when Rask could have carried his team to a Stanley Cup in 10 years? Will Toskala help this team make the playoffs next year when Cheripanov could have captained this team to a Stanley Cup in 10 years? They are flashy moves made to look good but will continue to make little difference in the end on a team that has developed an inferior foundation.

    Sorry leaf fans. You're past the point of repair. There will be no patching this team up to hide the leaks. The only way is to burn this mother down and allow this team and organization to build back up from the ruits and foundation. Like waves at the beach, let this current team play and recede, and find someone to make sure the next wave is the foundation of future success and consistency.

  8. MTL_HABS_24 says:

    Best post I've read so far.  Thanks for a lucid, unbiased, well-thought out and written article.

  9. jakstad says:

    not a smart deal considering tucker and steen are worth more and elias has a pretty hefty contract…but i like the idea of picking up players from new jersey if infact they are "cleaning house". thanks for the comments.

  10. jakstad says:

    i agree that 5th is generous but you have to remember that they have kubina full time, a good goalie, and more scoring so it isnt as unlikely. And i think the leafs should get Yashin becuase even in a bad season he scores 20+. but if there is one thing i would dispise, it would be if JFJ signs yashin for over 3.5 million and for over 2-3 years becuase that is a true commitment and Yashin is simply to risky…and old…er

    thanks for the comments.

  11. mojo19 says:

    Yeah that looks pretty good. I just don't like Richards. And Maurice moved McCabe to the left side when he was struggling along the boards, but McCabe always prefers the right side because of one-timers.

  12. mojo19 says:

    I agree it could be closer. But I just don't see the habs competing as well without Sourray unless a couple of the younger guys really pick it up and Kovalev stays consistant so I'll stand by my prediction.

    Also Lindros wasn't necessarily a bad fit in TO, he had 11 g and 11 a in 33 games. So thats a pace for 27 goals and 27 assists in 81 games. Which is good. Lindros's problem is he's always hurt.

  13. PaulK123 says:

    oilers=fighting for 29th in nhl

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