I want to focus on moves the Leafs should make post July 1st, as the acquisitions of Orr, Exelby and Komisarek have already been readily discussed, admired and/or scrutinized. In short though, I LOVE the moves made by Burke yesterday – the Leafs get tougher which allows their speedier offensive-type players to feel a little more protected. I don’t think the big name offensive players like the Sedin Sisters, Cammelari, Hossa, Gaborik, etc. that were out there yesterday would fit into the Leafs future plans and/or we don’t want them anyway for various reasons which I won’t get into here.
Also, to all you Leaf-Haters that roll their eyes about another “What the Leafs Should Do Article”…as indicated by the title, this is OBVIOUSLY a Leafs article so don’t read it if you hate the Leafs…it’s quite annoying when you gripe about it in the comments section and you just end up sounding like a knob…we Leafs fans love to speculate about our team so why not just let us have our fun? I don’t see the big issue, if you don’t like the Leafs, then don’t read Leafs articles…it’s that simple. Anyway, having said that, here’s my two cents on what the Leafs should do….
#1 – Trade
Tomas Kaberle and Matt Stajan
Cody Hodgson and Alexandre Burrows, + 2nd round draft pick in 2010
Vancouver gets the puck moving, power play quarterback they so desperately need plus a young, 3rd line centre. Toronto gets Hodgson, a great prospect with massive potential. In my opinion HODGSON IS THE NHL’S NEXT SUPERSTAR, HE WILL BE A BETTER, MORE VALUABLE AND MORE COMPLETE PLAYER THAN JOHN TAVARES OR VICTOR HEDMAN – JUST REMEMBER WHEN IT HAPPENS THAT YOU HEARD IT HERE FIRST!!
Toronto also gets a fast pesky forward with descent hands in Burrows. This is win-win for both teams, although if Vancouver values Hodgson as much as I do, they won’t let him go for Kaberle…Leafs could steal one here…
#2 – Trade
Alexei Ponikarovsky, Anton Stralman, Jamal Myers, Nikolai Kulemin, Justin Pogge
Tobias Enstrom, Colby Armstrong, Ondrej Pavelec
Atlanta gets a solid 2nd line winger in Poni, who can play with his old buddy Antropov and Kovalchuk, or with Kozlov on the 2nd line. Atlanta also gets two young prospects – one D-man (Stralman) and one winger (Kulemin), plus throw-ins in Myers, who is a tough guy 4th liner to protect Kovalchuk (does Atlanta currently have a tough guy?), plus another throw-in with Pogge – he’s considered a “throw-in” and not a prospect because realistically, he doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now but he still has some potential.
In return, the Leafs get a new prospective PP quarterback in Enstrom (to eventually replace Kaberle in a few years), plus some sandpaper with decent hands in Armstrong and a great goaltending prospect in Pavelec, who is likely NHL ready.
I like this deal because even though the Leafs are giving up some young talent, they are also getting young talent back in return. As much as I think Kulemin is a great kid – he just doesn’t have the soft hands to play on a 1st or 2nd line long-term and he’s not tough enough to play on a “Burke-style” 3rd or 4th line. So, we should trade him while he still has some offensive potential and trade value – that perception won’t last long with other NHL managers after a couple of years – see Matt Stajan. Also, no matter how much I watch Stralman, I just can’t see any potential upside to his game – he doesn’t have great speed, he’s nervous on the ice, plus he doesn’t make great outlet passes….I honestly don’t see what all the hype is about….trade him too while he has some potential upside to him…remember, we are getting back Enstrom in the trade who also a young stud with tonnes of potential.
Pavelec can either be the back-up goalie or play for the Marlies – pending if we get “The Monster” or not….
#3 – Free Agent Signing
Sign Sergei Zubov to a 2 year contract – his health is questionable I know, but he can mentor Enstrom and Ian White (even if he ends up getting injured again), plus any other offensive type D-men in the Leafs system…he would be the Leafs quarterback while the young guys like Enstrom develop into top-line D-men (plus Zubov also provides an immediate replacement for Kaberle)…
Plan B – if Zubov is unavailable or retires – look for a similar guy, possibly a Schnieder or Bergeron, don’t overpay for an older veteran type guy but remember – the purpose is to provide some offence in the back end in the short term plus mentor young offensive D-men for the long term…
#4 – Trade
Straight up trade, one for one. Since Gigeure is now the back-up in Anaheim – this is essentially a salary dump for the Ducks. I think “Giggy” has some spunk left in him and the former Conn Smythe winner will revive his career under his old manager Burke. Toskala, who I do like, is NOT the answer for the Leafs to win the Cup – Giggy can win a Cup and has done it before with the Ducks.
#5 – Free Agent Signing
Sign Jonas “The Monster” Gustafsson (assuming he wants to go to the Leafs of course)
Let Pavalec and The Monster fight it out for who will back up Giggy. If Giggy does end up stinking up the ACC every night and it looks as though his career is on a down-slide, then we have 2 VERY strong prospective starting goalies to back him up and keep the pressure on him.
#6 – Free Agent Signing
Sign Travis Moen
Awesome playoff shut-down type player – typical Burke, gritty player.
#6 – Free Agent Signing
Sign Chad LaRose
Clutch playoff type player – played awesome for Carolina this year in the playoffs – another Burke-type player.
#7 – Arbitration Result
We need him – young with speed and an attitude to stir things up – he’s a guy you hate to play against – he will draw some penalties and score a few goals…
October 2009 Leafs Line-Up
Offence 1 = Hodgson, Blake, Burrows
Offence 2 = Hagman, Grabovski, Stempniak
Shut-Down = LaRose, Moen, Armstrong
Checking = Orr, Mitchell, Stuart
Prospect Line (Offence) = Bozak, Hansen, Tlusty
Offensive-Type = Zubov, Enstrom, White, Van Ryn
Shut-Down = Schenn, Komisarek, Exelby, Finger
Extras/Prospects = Oreskevic, Frogren
I haven’t looked at the salary cap numbers and requirements but considering the salary the Leafs would be giving up (especially Kaberle, Toskala, Myers) and give
n the Leafs currently have about 9 million in available cap space (last I heard), I think this could work out financially for the Leafs.