Toronto Maple Leafs Rebuild Tracker

The Toronto Maple Leafs rebuild effectively began once John Ferguson Jr. was fired in January of 2008. Cliff Fletcher came in, and despite a valiant effort on his part, he was not able to acquire assets for the Leafs veterans. After a few minor moves, Brian Burke came in, here is a look at what Brian Burke has been able to do, and where the franchise is going.

When Burke first came in, aside from Luke Schenn, there was very little positive movement happening in Leafland. Since then, he has made the roster his team, aside from a few players who are likely to be moved, this roster belongs to Brian Burke.

Since Burke has taken over as GM, he has moved the following players: Jason Blake, Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsy, Niklas Hagman, Dominic Moore, Pavel Kubina, Lee Stempniak, Ian White, Jiri Tlusty, Anton Stralman, Jamal Mayers and Justin Pogge.

Players brought in: Garnett Exelby, Mike Komisarek, Francois Beauchemin, Jonas Gustovsson, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson, Philipe Paradis, Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrick Sjostrom, J.S. Giguere, Luca Caputi.

Of the 15 players moved out, 7 were European, and 11 were forwards.

Of the 12 players brought in, 10 are North American, and 5 are forwards.

Whether you like it or not, Burke is being true to his word and his form.

His team is going to be tough, physical, and largely North American.

At the Draft, Burke was again, true to form. Nazem Kadri is a hell of a prospect, plays with heart, and has top notch offensive instincts.

Here is a look at the four aspects of the team, and how Burke has done at rebuilding so far (Mind you he is far from done)

1. Goaltending – B- He did a good job to bring in Gustovsson this season, who has been decent for being on such a terrible team. However in hindsight, he should not have banked this season on Toskala for so long. The Giguere trade seems like it could have been done much earlier, and with solid goaltending, the Bruins pick would not be so high. The Giguere trade was good though.
JS Giguere
Jonas Gustovsson
James Reimer
Grant Rollheiser

2. Defense – A- Mind you, this is not based on their performance this year, it is based on securing assets for the future. Burke has done an excellent job at building this teams defense. He brought in two character leaders in Komisarek and Beauchemin, capitalized on Ian Whites high value to bring in a slumping #1 defensemen, held off on trading Kaberle over the summer, when his value was half of what it is now, and did not trade Schenn.
Dion Phaneuf
Tomas Kaberle
Mike Komisarek
Francois Beauchemin
Luke Schenn
Carl Gunnarson
Jeff Finger
Garnett Exelby
Keith Aulie

3. Forwards – C- So far, Burke has been a bit lackluster in the forward department. He got Phil Kessel, but it came at quite a cost. The jury will be out for years on that one. He brought in Bozak and Hanson for nothing, and they have been pretty good this year. The forward core will go through retooling this off-season, major retooling, it remains to be seen which route he will take, whether it be by Tomas Kaberle trade, or another defensmen, or free agency, but this forward core will look very different.
Phil Kessel
Tyler Bozak
Nikolai Kulemin
Viktor Stalberg
Mikhail Grabovski
Luca Caputi
Fredrick Sjostrom
Christian Hanson
Jamie Lundmark
John Mitchell
Rickard Wallin
Colton Orr
…Yikes

Prospects – C – I mostly like his draft picks, and the prospects that they already have, but the trading of what is going to be a high pick this year, and possibly a high pick next year, does not bode well for the prospects. Many of the prospects no longer count, because they are NHL regulars.

Going forward, here are some must-dos in my opinion:

1. Get a top 3 forward – I understand that Burke wants to keep Kaberle, but if they cannot get Patrick Marleau, I think Kaberle has to go.

2. Resign Nikolai Kulemin, before his value sky rockets – Seriously, ever since this kid found out he can hit, he has been terrific. He needs more consistency in his offensive game, but he is the best forechecker on the team.

3. Resign Jonas Gustovsson – He has got all of the skill to be a good NHL goalie, but he needs more time.

4. Get a top 6 forward through a salary dump. They could target both Chicago and New York, as they both have bad contracts who they would be willing to move.

5. Do not move Nazem Kadri or Luke Schenn.

Burke’s ability as a GM has been under fire lately, and while I think he is the right man for the job, I can certainly see differing view points.

So here are some discussion questions. Do you think the Leafs are headed in the right direction? Do you like Burke’s moves? What would it take to trade Tomas Kaberle?