The Off-Season Plan

The Leafs had a chance this year to stock up on young players and draft picks, Mats Sundin and Darcy Tucker were both highly desirable assets, but Tucker signed a 4-year deal and Mats Sundin is a pending UFA, the trade deadline has passed. With the cap going up and the amount of free agents out there the Leafs can make an impact this off-season, the best we can do is to be a 4th-10th place team in the East.

Before I talk about my plan here are the players who’s contracts are set to expire after this year and their current salaries:

-Mats Sundin-6.480 Million Dollars
-Michael Peca-2.5 Million Dollars
-Jeff O’Neill-1.5 Million Dollars
-Nikolai Antropov-1.007 Million Dollars
-Alexei Ponikarovsky-0.725 Million Dollars
-Bates Battaglia-0.500 Million Dollars
-Yanic Perreault-0.153 Million Dollars (the Leafs only have to pay the remainder of his contract)
-Carlo Coliacovo-0.902 Million Dollars
-Andy Wozniewski-0.475 Million Dollars
-Ian White-0.513 Million Dollars
-JS Aubin-0.525 Million Dollars

As of right now the Leafs have 1 million dollars in cap space,With the cap projected to go up to 48 million dollars, and after all of the contracts expire they will have 15.64 million dollars in cap space.

The Leafs have a club option of 5.320 Million Dollars for Mats Sundin’s contract next year. 5.320 is too much money for him, so I think his contract can be re-worked to better fit the Leafs salary situation.

Here are the key players that I think should be re-signed and for how much:

-Mats Sundin-2-year contract/4.5 Million per year
-Michael Peca-1-year contract/2 Million
-Alexei Ponikarovsky-2-year contract/0.8 Million per year
-Carlo Coliacovo-2-year contract/0.9 Million per year
-Andy Wozniewski-2-year contract/0.7 Million per year
-Ian White-2-year contract/0.7 Million per year
-Bates Battaglia-2-year contract/0.7 Million per year
-Jeff O’Neill-1-year contract/1.7 million per year

Total Cap Space After Signings: 3.64 Million Dollars

Players Let Go:
-JS Aubin
-Yanic Perreault
-Nik Antropov

The Leafs need a back-up goaltender, I think we can bring up Pogge to back-up Rayzer, the minimum salary will be 0.69 Million Dollars, so 0.69 will count against the cap, which leaves the Leafs with 2.95 Million Dollars in cap space.

These are the players the Leafs should send to the minors:
-Wozniewski-0.7 Million Dollars
-Deveraux-0.69 Million Dollars

Total Cap Space After Players Sent Down: 4.34 Million Dollars

The Leafs off-season move:
Sign Peter Sykora to a 1-year/3 million dollar contract

Total Cap Space: 1.34 Million Dollars

This will give the Leafs space come deadline day if they are in a push for the playoffs and need an extra player.

The team will look like this:




This team will score more goals if healthy, but thats the only major change, everything else stays the same.

88 Responses to The Off-Season Plan

  1. the_word says:

    Agreed, I like the the young talent too.  I expect the core to continue to carry their weight.  The exent to which the young supporting cast develops will determine the limits of this team.  The next few seasons may not be as bleak as some people are characterizing it.

  2. mojo19 says:

    Unless the cap doesn't keep going up at a steady pace and Wellwood has a breakout year next year and demands a few mil a year, then Colaiacovo does the same, and gets a couple mil, and they're handcuffed. Which is possible too.

    That's why it wouldn't be a bad idea to try to get a couple of these guys extended long term sooner than later.

  3. mojo19 says:

    Good looking team. I don't know if Bell is on the market, the sharks just got him, but I get your point, trade Gill and Pohl for a capable winger.

    Backstrom could even split the games with Razor, maybe even become the starter by the end of the year. I like this team. And as another possibility, if Bertuzzi resigns with the wings or something, you could throw a few million $ at Shanahan and put him in there.

  4. mojo19 says:

    Yeah, for that reason, it would make sense to resign Peca. However Steen is a pretty good PK guy and so is Kilger. Still you’re right, they do need another guy.

  5. the_word says:

    Wellwood and Coli are still projects, but I get where you're coming from, I think the Leafs will have to shake up this line up in the summer, if for no other reason than a PR move looking to the 07-08 season.

  6. mojo19 says:

    I seriously would trade Ponikarovski. He’s a restricted free agent, his value will never be higher for a trade than it is now, and he’s going to ask for more money than he’s probably worth. Hope i’m wrong.

  7. sufferingleaf says:

    Nope Tkachuch is old Datsyuk mabey he still has to prove more. Gomez is ok not a great player we have those same goes for Nagy.

  8. Hoondog2 says:

    I see what you mean, but I think penalty killing is more of a coaching issue, most good players could penalty kill if they're given the right system.  The Leafs for as long as I can remember have always used a passive box rather than agressively challenging the other team, this allows the other team to pass it around and look for the best shot, but it also allows them to throw the puck at the net (how many times do you see the puck deflect or bounce to an opposing player).

  9. the_word says:

    For as much as JFJ bent over for McCabe last summer, he held pretty firm positions on the the young talent.  I like the way he handled Antropov (originally offering him a two way contract, I think that was suffient motivation for Antropov to pick up his game) and JFJ handled Stajan's contract properly as well.  I could see Poni getting offered a million per, and then Poni taking it to arbitration.

  10. the_word says:

    More deflection than I'd like to see.  The problem with changing from a passive box is that I don't think the Leafs are quick enough so long as Hal Gill is on the PK.  It'd be nice to see two units that could each play a distinct style (one aggressive unit, one passive).  Where ever the accountability lies, it needs to address for next year.

  11. I-BE-LEAF says:

    three things forced JFJ's hand to go for Perrault:

    1 – injuries
    2 – Green couldn't do what was hoped of him
    3 – had JFJ done nothing, we'd all still be hearing about it from the media and the fans

    Bell was bait and we did get back a fifth rounder.  i too wish we still had our 2nd rounder but the draft isn't that deep this year so who knows.  i believe we have Phoenix's 4th and 5th plus all but our 2nd so draft day may still be interesting with our increased scouting well in place.

  12. I-BE-LEAF says:

    Tucker showed serious leadership when he signed his contract. i’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, one of the main reasons the Leafs are doing as well as they are is due to team chemistry. i would be surprised to see any Leafs go to arbitration. Poni will sign for a respectable sum to stay with the blue and white.

  13. I-BE-LEAF says:

    something that i haven't seen addressed aside from Maurice is the coaching staff.  Maurice is the right man for this stage of the Leaf's transition.  he has a squad of hard working players working harder than their natural talent levels plus a strong knowledge of our farm system.  that being said, i'm not too confident with the abilities of his support staff.

    perhaps Randy Ladouceur should be scrutinized more for the team scrambling around during defensive lapses.  the players are working within a system, right?
    perhaps Steve McKichan should be replaced with someone who be able to work closer with Raycroft to assist with his positioning and rebound control.  it would also be a wise move to sign a veteran goalie to backup Raycroft for next season who can give him greater support with these weaker areas of his game.
    what about Keith Acton and Dallas Eakins? do they have extensive resumes or are they building them with the Leaf organization?

    constructive criticism anyone?

  14. leafmeister says:

    Im sorry but how could you be so stupid to say that sundin needs a superstar winger he has gotton 70 points or higher in every season with leafs exept one and even then he was still a point a game. All of those years he still didnt have a superstar winger and he is getting to the end of his careers os they probably shouldnt go out and get big money for someone who probably wont play with him that long. Sundin is not a player who is made good by other players Sundin makes players good.

  15. lukeleim says:

    Offseason Transactions:

    Hal Gill to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Penguins' 3rd round pick of 2008.

    John Pohl to the Edmonton Oilers for Danny Syvret

    Sign Niklas Backstrom & Todd Bertuzzi

    Let Travis Green, Yanic Perreault & Jeff O'Neill test UFA

    Alexei Ponikarovsky – Mats Sundin – Nik Antropov
    Todd Bertuzzi – Kyle Wellwood – Alexander Steen
    Chad Kilger – Michael Peca – Darcy Tucker
    Bates Battaglia – Matt Stajan – Boyd Devereaux
    Ben Ondrus – John Pohl – Wade Belak
    Kris Newbury – Jeremy Williams
    Prospects: Jiri Tlusty, Robbie Earl, Nikolai Kulemin, Brent Aubin

    Tomas Kaberle – Pavel Kubina
    Bryan McCabe – Carlo Colaiacovo
    Andy Wozniewski – Ian White
    Jay Harrison – Staffan Kronwall
    Prospects: Dimitri Vorobiev, Anton Stralman, Danny Syvret

    Niklas Backstrom
    Andrew Raycroft
    Justin Pogge

  16. lukeleim says:

    Offseason Transactions:

    Hal Gill to the Pittsburgh Penguins for the Penguins' 3rd round pick of 2008.

    John Pohl to the Edmonton Oilers for Danny Syvret

    Sign Niklas Backstrom & Todd Bertuzzi

    Let Travis Green, Yanic Perreault & Jeff O'Neill test UFA

    Alexei Ponikarovsky – Mats Sundin – Nik Antropov
    Todd Bertuzzi – Kyle Wellwood – Alexander Steen
    Chad Kilger – Michael Peca – Darcy Tucker
    Bates Battaglia – Matt Stajan – Boyd Devereaux
    Kris Newbury – Jeremy Williams – Wade Belak
    Ben Ondrus
    Prospects: Jiri Tlusty, Robbie Earl, Nikolai Kulemin, Brent Aubin

    Tomas Kaberle – Pavel Kubina
    Bryan McCabe – Carlo Colaiacovo
    Andy Wozniewski – Ian White
    Jay Harrison – Staffan Kronwall
    Prospects: Dimitri Vorobiev, Anton Stralman, Danny Syvret

    Niklas Backstrom
    Andrew Raycroft
    Justin Pogge

  17. wingedim says:

    Which means a couple more years for Rayzor…

  18. Gretzkin says:

    Who the hell do you think you are calling me stupid?

    Sundin is a Superstar who consistantly puts up good numbers every year. He has remained pretty injury free throughout as well, except for a few little roadbumps in the last couple years.
    Sundin makes everyone around him better, yes indeed, and he's been playing this year with more of a spark. He said "F uck" to the media twice this year… he's on a bit of a mission.
    You're the Leaf Fan (I assume by your silly name), fine, call me stupid and forget about having a superstar that can put Sundin's numbers over the top where he could be reaching closer to 100 points nowadays (like the other Super Stars WITH HELP) with a little help from a rad sniper.
    There's about 7 players that should hit the 100 point mark this year, Crosby has already done it (maybe he didn't need help), and Thornton and Lecavalier are on the doorstep.
    Whatever buddy, let Mats play with the types he's playing with all this time and watch him never win a cup, or score 100 points. If that's what you want.
    And I'm stupid?
  19. mojo19 says:

    the leafs won't let him go.

  20. mojo19 says:

    Tkachuck is old, but I think the leafs should make a firm offer to one of Tkachuck or Shanahan if they can't get one of the "in their prime" free agents. Justl like a 2 year deal to Shanny or Keith worth around 3.5ish mil per year.

  21. mojo19 says:

    I hope you're right. If he wants any more than 1.6 per year, let him go to arbirtration.

  22. mojo19 says:

    If they didn't use the box on the PK, Devereux would be awesome for chasing, that's pretty much all he does as a forechecker anyway's. I think they should retain Devereux for the right price too.

  23. Phil187 says:

    Are you serious? You think Sundin is worth more than Smyth???? Typical leafs fan think the hockey world revolves around a team that can't even make it to the playoffs……..7-8 Million hahahahahahahahahahahaha what a joke. Get a job at CBC or TSN you know just as much as that Dumb ass Don Cherry does.

  24. WDF says:

    You must be from London, only a Knights fan would suggest trading for Syvret. Not saying hes a bad player, he would be just falling deeper into the depth chart. We have alot of defensive prospects of all skill levels, and besides Edmonton is almost naked with defencemen. They had to put Toby Peterson on defence because they couldnt call anymore defencemen up from the minors. Best bet he will stay there.
    The Backstrom idea is good but I doubt he will leave Minnesota.
    I agree with letting go of Perreault, Green and O'Neill but signing Bertuzzi wouldnt do much for us. We need someone with speed and a great shot to play with Wellwood and Tucker. Personally we could get a player who fits that role in a trade. Probably our best peice of trade bait is Stajan who could fetch us a decent player.
    Deveraux is a decent player, i would much rather give that ice time to a developing player however. Pohl or maybe (we can hope) Kulemin can make a step into the line up.

  25. Marky2Fresh says:

    I don't see that is possible when you have McCabe and Kubina eating up so much salary.  You won't be able to move them. 

  26. sufferingleaf says:

    Thats a joke Sundin makes other players better name one. Poni And Antro have gotten more points playing with Allison and Wellwood Statistiaclly speaking. Sundin has never even made any one a 30 goal scorer on his line tha's called making better around hm. Now Ovechkin Thorton (cheechoo had 8 goals before he came he finished with 53 thank you Thorton) Crosby his first year these are players superstars who dont whine I need a linemate they put up points on there own, Even Jagr his linemates have so many points because of him what had Nylander do before whats Straka without Jagr. Face Sundin is a second tier superstar not more.     

  27. sufferingleaf says:

    No don't take them wake up thats the same crap as every year old players look at Buffalo all young guys look at Tampa, Anahaim Ottawa young teams who can skate one old guy mabey more than that forget it we have too many now and were slow!!!!!!! NO OLD GUYS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

  28. I-BE-LEAF says:

    agreed, sufferingleaf.  if we do spend a chunk on the free agent market this summer, i hope it's for a younger set of legs.  if that isn't possible i would rather see our youth get more ice time than a "star" who's best days are behind them.  we have enough experienced players already who already know Maurice's system.

    new nhl = new strategy… enough with aging vets

  29. Gretzkin says:

    You're a bit silly to think that. I guess that's why everyone on the team is always hoping to play up on the first line with him?

    Sure, he hasn't made any 30 goal scorers, but they really haven't had anyone capable of that, and I'm not counting Mogilny because he didn't need help.
    You say name one?
    Even though you've already discredited Antropov, I'm going to say, Antropov.
    He's been playing most of the season with Sundin, and during the last game, Mats assisted on a career high goal for Little Nikky. Most of Sundin's points are always assists… someone's gotta eat those up?
    Anyways, I said what you are saying about Crosby and Thornton, and you say it yourself.
    Jagr has Straka and Nylander. Who would you rather have? Poni and Nikky? Exactly.
    Anyways, my point of the whole thing was not having Mats develop players around him so much as having better players around him so they could all benefit.
    You poor Leaf fans are so set in your losing ways that when somebody mentions something good about the team you guys get all mental.
    Like I said before, I don't care. They're not my team, so it doesn't matter to me.
  30. sufferingleaf says:

    Thank you well said I'd take Smyth any day over Sundin. Sundin may be more talented but Smyth has more heart and rises to the occasion more than Sundin. Sundin is surrounded by more talent but doesn't produse much more than Smyth. Also look how many more points Smyth is getting with the Islanders at crunch time compared to Sundin what does he have 1 goal in 10 games.  

  31. sufferingleaf says:

    Oh wow Sundin gets mabey 40- 50 assits a season put him in the hall now. Actually most of Antropovs goals are no assisted by Sundin. Also if you take away his seasons playing with Sacik and Gilmour he is a career less than a point player. Nylander sucked till he started playing with Jagr he never had more than 64 points till playing with Jagr .As far as Straka his best season till now were with Pittsburg playing with who? Jagr!! Mark my words Poni and Antro would ahve more points playing with Jagr. Also the Leaf players would be much better if we had a real #1 centre.    

  32. I-BE-LEAF says:

    Mats Sundin is a freaking viking!  it makes no sense to say anything bad about both our best player and Captain.  i'm not going to try and prove my point to you because it wouldn't matter.  you've already made up your mind.

    no wonder your nickname is suffering… the more i read your posts, the more i notice how you seem to like to suffer.
    i'd offer you a slice of negative pie, but it seems you've already had a few pieces.

  33. LEAFSLEAFSLEAFS1967 says:

    I'd say he's a pretty big reason we're winning, if you pay attention to the games he can steal a lot of games, I would probably take a one year Joseph over one year Raycroft, but over the years while we wait to see what comes of Pogge, I'd like to see a younger goalie who is still learning and also progressing into a better goalie as time is moving on. As for Giguere you won't get him without at least dumping a pretty important part of the team if you want to keep him, he'll demand big bucks. A wins a win, a win gets you two points, enough said.

  34. 24_cups_and_counting says:

    Shanny signed in NY for 5 million this season. He's still lighting the lamp. Can't see him taking a 1.5/season paycut just so he can play with the laughs.

  35. 92-93 says:

    there is a lot one can talk about in this article but i will focus just on the right side for now.

    the leafs should keep Wellwood on Sundin's right side and try to sign a first line LW (whoops, getting to the left side now).

    they should resign Nik Antropov to hopefully no more than 2 years and no more than $1.5 million. people like mojo and i have been backing up Antropov up for a couple of years now and i have had a huge change of heart about him. yes he will only play half a season, but he will give you 15-20 goals and 30-40 pts for a cheap contract thanks to his improved play …

    and he HAS improved. moreover, there is the chance he will play a full season, put up 20-30 goals and 60 pts. he is always a plus player and he is finally using his size (has been actually for the last 2 seasons). forget about the 1998 draft. is he getting paid first round 1998 draft dollar figures NOW? no. so move on. its not like the leafs signed him for 10 years, $50 million back in 1998 thinking he was a first liner. he is cheap and produces when he is in the line-up.

    ok, so Antropov and Wellwood in.

    O'Neill must go. oh you could group him with Antropov and say he is cheap and produces. but he is invisible on most nights. last year he had an off year because of injury and personal tragedy. this year he has improved no doubt. but only slightly and the Leafs simply need more speed and skill on the right side. free up that $1.5 million to go to part of the amount for that first line LW i talked about earlier.

    3rd and 4th line RW's could include (in order):

    1. Jeremy Williams – play this kid already!! i'll bet he plays a full year next year and gives you 15 goals and 40 pts EASILY.

    2. John Pohl – a natural centre but can play the wing.

    3. Devereaux – ditto and he's got wheels.

    4. Battaglia – can play left or right wing and is impressive along the boards.

    oh, and i know this is not the right side but i couldnt resist, the leafs have sign only ONE of Perreault or Peca. right now i'd say Peca but he better take less than 2.5 million and i dont think he will. if that is the case, you could let go of both, sign a guy like Handzus if he is available or someone else like Smolinski even.

  36. MogilnyFan1990 says:

    i know that my points might have been said from the posts prior, but i am not going to read all 85 posts. i have a life. 
    1)-Wellwood needs to play center
    2) Our problem isn't scoring goals, its keeping them out of our net. they have 228GF and 241GA… Sykora is NOT our answer to making the playoffs.  ask edmonton if he helped them make the post season.  Trade McCabe to NYI (yes he has a no trade claus but his wife lives there) So basically resculpture the D.
    3)I think that Nik and Poni well improve to be better fowards next year.  They are using their bodies more down low to control the puck.
    4) Watch out for Kulemin and Tlusty(you can't say no until next years tryouts)
    5) we should also maybe trade Col*A*iacovo for a good pick.

    So, Sykora is NOT going to make the differnce, keep anrtopov + Peca, and our young players will improve.  Maybe trade colaiacovo/McCabe or one of our young D: Kronwall, Woz, or Harrison because there are only 2 spots available for only 5 young players in the next few year (like what we did for Bell)

  37. 92-93 says:

    in terms of goaltending. this plan makes no sense. why would you have Pogge playing half or less than half of the games when he can develop and play most of the games with the Marlies.

    HE IS NOT READY FOR THE NHL and won't be until at LEAST 2008 or 2009, maybe longer.

    Aubin's days in Toronto are numbered. Raycroft's inconsistency means that the Leafs need a more reliable back-up. the crop of goalies out there is not that great. I've said this before but I think Joseph at $1 million for one year (at most, $1.5 million) would be a solid option. and yes, i dont mind the Leafs paying that much for a back-up, especially if its Cujo, who has won 30 games in the previous 2 seasons and this year has continued to look solid despite not playing as many games as he usually plays.

    But here is the deal i think the leafs MUST try to make. Acquire Toivenen from Boston, who is on his way out there. we know that this deal can occur in an inter-division sense since the Bruins-Leafs did one last year at the draft table.

    I would be willing to trade one of the Leafs' defensive prospects or forwards or Racine or whoever to get this kid. The fact that the Bruins are writing him off is insane and I would love to see the Leafs steal a Finnish prospect goalie from the Bruins, reversing the pattern from last year's deal with Raycroft-Rask. Moreover, Toivenen is closer to the NHL then Rask.

    I would put Toivenen as a tandem with Pogge in the AHL. Keep Reimer in the WHL – where he continues to put up solid numbers similar to Price (not comparing, just saying look at their numbers – very similar and it looks like Reimer is another solid mid-round selection by the Leafs). And Joseph and Raycroft would be the tandem in the NHL.

  38. 92-93 says:

    The ideal scenario for the Leafs in terms of their defence is for JFJ to trade one of Gill, Kubina, or McCabe. This would free up some much needed cap space to spend somewhere and would eliminate the redundancies on Defence.

    To recap my oft-stated stance: Gill is too expensive as a 5-6 D-guy, McCabe's no-trade contract is dangerous and stupid, Kubina is flat-out the worst free agent signing in years and years for the leafs.

    HOWEVER, Gill is growing on me – i admit that much. but not that much. he is still too expensive and despite his PK strengths, he doesnt use his size enough and is still way too slow against the faster divisional teams (when you have Neil beating you to the outside, thats pretty bad). But Gill has found a home alongside White and no one is likely going to trade for him. Moreover, he has put up some surprisingly consistent offensive numbers. He isn't going anywhere and that doesn't bother me as much as i thought it would at the start of the season.

    McCabe isn't going anywhere due to his no-trade, if he does it will be to Long Island or the Rangers. just not going to happen.

    Kubina is the most likely candidate to be traded but no other GM will take him on even if he doesn't have a no-trade clause. if i were JFJ, i'd be looking at the Oilers as a potential trade partner and try to get one of the Oiler's 1st round picks in 2007 and/or one of their numerous Centre prospects.

    But like I said, the defence laid out in this article is likely going to be the defence for next year. Kubina's signing was redundant and dumb and the emergence of Coliacovo and White this year made it all the more idiotic.

    but moving on (lol).

    The good news: the leafs defensive prospects are still numerous despite the Bell trade. they kept the right guys in White and Colaicovo. The two latter players are among the top-5 in rookie defencemen this year (right up there with the 2 defensive prospects in San Jose and in Philly as well as Paestch in Buffalo).

    When you add the signing of Reid Cashman and Karl Pilar, the Leafs continue to build on that depth:

    Pilar-Wozniewski (first to be called up)
    Siefer-Harrington-Cashman (need to develop with the Marlies)
    Stralman-Holzer-Vorobiev (in Europe)

    you have every kind of defenseman-type in that list above. you have guys who can soon replace Hal Gill as well as Pavel Kubina. this is precisely why JFJ must, in the next couple of seasons, keep an eye out for trade possibilites concerning Gill and Kubina. Such potential trades, as unlikely as they may be, will free up cap space and roster space for possible players coming up from the Marlies as well as potential sub-$5 million UFA D-guys over the next couple of offseasons.

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