What should Burke do with the Leafs this summer?
The Maple Leafs will gather for a team photo on Monday but, while the moment will be frozen, the roster won’t be.
There will be changes this summer. Lots of them. General manager Brian Burke hasn’t taken down the “Open For Business” sign he loudly hammered to his office door before the trade deadline.
The Leafs remain a team in transition but if there’s one thing the club’s recent hot streak has provided, besides some welcome entertainment, it is tangible evidence that there are building blocks in place as Burke tries to make his squad more competitive.
Phil Kessel, 22, is signed through the 2013-14 season. Dion Phaneuf, 24, is also on board until then. Nikolai Kulemin, 22, is a restricted free agent but has said he wants to stay and not jump to the KHL as had been rumoured. Tyler Bozak, so far the best of the team’s college products, just turned 24 and has another season before restricted free agency. Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, playing his best NHL hockey so far, is 25 and has indicated he’d like to re-sign when his contract expires at season’s end.
So there’s a starting point. But how do they tinker from there? We have some ideas.
First a disclaimer: These ARE NOT trade rumours. They are educated guesses at what could unfold based on various economic/personnel situations around the league. It’s intended for entertainment purposes only and you are welcome to try this at home.
We also tried to avoid ridiculous trade suggestions that would never happen. Like, say, sending Matt Stajan, Ian White, Niklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers to Calgary for Dion Phaneuf and Fredrik Sjostrom. Sure, as if the Flames would ever do that.
In net, we don’t expect anything to change. Gustavsson will re-sign and continue to work with veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere and coach Francois Allaire. Giguere, with one year remaining on his deal, is an even-tempered mentor and buys time while the Leafs continue to assess and develop Gustavsson.
In an ideal world, Toronto likely wouldn’t change its defence either but this is where the team has the most depth and assets to move in order to acquire top six forwards. Plus there’s no fun in predicting status quo.