Solutions For the Mess Called The Toronto Maple Leafs
Sorry for yet another Leaf article but if you don’t like it, don’t read it. As evidenced by my name, I’m a Habs fan. BUT, I am also a Hockey Fan first and foremost and as much as I enjoy watching the Leafs suffer(As I know Leaf fans enjoyed how the Habs suffered through the late 90’s and early 00’s) it’s unnatural that the 2nd oldest Franchise can’t seem to get on track.
As a hockey fan, I see only one solution for this mess and it involves taking a page out of their rival Habs playbook. If you don’t understand, please follow me in a short history “lesson”. Since 2000, the Leafs have had a total of FIVE 1st Round Picks compared to the Habs ELEVEN. Now, of those 11 picks, 3 are gone(Ron Hainsey, Alex Perezhogin and Marcel Hossa) leaving the Habs with Mike Komisarek, Chris Higgins, Andrei Kostitsyn, Kyle Chipchura, Carey Price, David Fischer, Ryan McDonagh and Max Pacioretty. All of whom were Drafted between 5th and 21st.
Of the Leafs 5 Picks, they’ve already lost 2 of them(Brad Boyes and Tuukka Rask) and have Alex Steen, Carlo Colaiacovo and Jiri Tlusty to show for 8 years worth of possible 1st Round Picks. No offence but that’s just plain sad.
Now onto my personal solution. In my most honest opinion, I believe the single best thing for the Leafs to do is get a Top 8 pick this year then Draft between 10th and 16th for the next 5 years. Using a Top 8 pick this year the Leafs should Draft either Luke Schenn or Drew Doughty. This will give the Leafs a VERY important asset that they’ve lacked for years. Something the Habs have in Komisarek and the Sens have in Volchenkov. A bruising stay at home defenceman who knows his boundaries and punishes opponents. Because frankly, the Leafs are as soft as wet paper towel and they need something to make teams think twice when they come in for a scoring chance.
Now, going forward, instead of destroying the team, play it out because one way or another you’re going to have to buy time so your Prospects can develop. By the time all these NTC contracts are up, you’re Prospects will be fully developed and ready to go. You’ve already bought time without meaning to. Look at what the Habs had during the hard years, Andreas Dackell, Joe Juneau, Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis, Doug Gilmour, Niklas Sundstrom, Stephane Quintal, Karl Dykhuis, Patrick Traverse, Dainus Zubrus, Oleg Petrov, Martin Rucinsky, Trevor Linden. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’d take any Leaf over 3/4’s of those guys any day of the week.
As of right now, the Leafs have a good but not great core to build around. You have a good goalie though I think he should be given a rest every few games, decent youth, strong veteran presence and a Top Pairing defenceman in Kaberle(Sorry, on any other team McCabe’s a #3 guy at best who plays the PP). In Toskala, Pogge, Kaberle, Tlusty, Wellwood, Stajan, Steen, Kronwall, Stralman and Williams, you’re solid. Adding the pieces over the next 3-5 years will only strengthen this unit and before you know it, you’ll be near where the Habs are today, shocking everyone with strong play.
I firmly believe that if the Leafs do as the Habs have done over the last 8 years, they will be back on top of the Hockey World, although, it’ll take a lot to dethrone the Habs, Sens and Pens as they have had an 8 year headstart.
The ONLY way this will work is if the Leafs next GM actually decides to keep his 1st Round Picks instead of pissing them away like Quinn and JFJ have done.