What The Leafs Should Be Doing
Alright, I’m making it clear that this is not a suggestion of trades or rumors but rather an opinionated gameplan of mine if I was the GM. I hate the constant Leaf rumors as much as the next guy, I’m unbiased, and not really fan. That’s where I come in, and besides it’ll be pretty interesting to see what really happens in Toronto this offseason. After all, they may very well be the most scrutinized team in the NHL. (Toronto being like one of the biggest hockey towns in the world.)
So here it goes:
Goaltending is hot button issue but really shouldn’t be that difficult of a decision. I believe Belfour has be given a bad wrap and has played well considering the guys in front of him are a joke. However, none-the-less his time is up there because he is to old, injury prone and expensive.
Tellqvist needs to be given the chance to take the starting position to develop and his cheap salary (likely to be less than $1.5 million hopefully?) can free up a chunk of salary for bettering the team. Though Eddie’s contract would have to be bought out at $1.5 million and count towards the cap. If Mikael succeeds in the net it will pay off in the long run; he’s only 26 and could bring wins for years to come. Even if he doesn’t, there’s always a FA acquisition possible and his salary wouldn’t make it hard.
The blueline is where Toronto needs some change and I think Leaf fans everywhere wince when they hear the names Berg and Belak. Although Kaberle had a breakout season, he still hasn’t proved that he can put consistent numbers over 40pts. With his recent contract signing at $4.5 million for five years he can be considered to be overpaid (compare him to Brian Leetch who makes $4 million). Signing McCabe should be a top priority since he led the team in points, and as a leader carried this team on his shoulders. $5 million is a hefty price to pay but it can fit under the cap with little problem if it is raised to $45 million as projected. With these two Toronto has a ligitimate starting defensive duo.
The D-men I think need to be dropped are, you guessed it, Berg and Belak due to their immobility and constant mistakes. Need not to really worry though because I think only one FA blueline pick-up is needed. Luke Richardson is kind of stupid pickup if you ask me because he’s slow and old, regardless of leadership skills. Though he isn’t bad as a No.5 or No.6 I guess. I would suggest pick up someone like Boughner to add to the third pairing to give some much needed physicality and grit to the defensive corps. He could help develop Kronwall on a line as well. The second pairing would ideally be Colaiacovo with Khavanov which sounds pretty nice.
On to the forwards, where Pat Quinn has had the most trouble. The smart thing to do? Dump Allison, Domi, O’ Neil, Lindros, and Wilm. Try again by dipping into the FA pool. Sundin is the captain and he was injured so he is likely to be kept at first line center. I think Recchi on his right wing for $2 million and Vyborny on his left for the same amount would make a decent starting line. Picking up the second line could be Arnott at center, Langenbrunner on right wing, and Kozlov on the other side of Jason. All former NJ players could create a chemistry similar to what NYR has with former PIT players. As far as FA’s go it’s hard for me to really pinpoint who and how many would re-sign with or leave their respective teams because I don’t know their personal attitudes. I can only throw out names that I think would be plausible and work well together; on paper, payroll, and the ice.
Youngsters could provide a potentially offensively potent and swift third shift consisting of Wellwood C, Steen LW, and RW Stajan. The fourth line could be a physical, strong, checking line with Antropov centering LW Ponikarovsky and RW Darcy Tucker.
Overall I think that going this route could turn Toronto into a Eastern Conference force once again and keep them in the running again for the long run. All they need to do now is draft a scoring forward in the first round and they’ll be set. Hope yall’ liked my plan.