What Toronto should do…
First of all, I would like to give a shout out to nordiques100 for a very well written article on the state of the Maple Leafs and the MLSE. As passionate Leaf fans, we hold them in the highest desideratum, and sometimes it peaks our interest to fantasize about players coming to our team to bring the one thing that has been missing for the last 39 years….the Stanley Cup. They are going through what is commonly referred to as a slump, but that is no reason to excoriate them, this happens with all teams, at some point, around the league. It has been close to a decade since Toronto has failed to make the playoffs but I think it may be time to be capricious, to change our game plan so to speak.
It is irrefragable that Toronto is been at best mediocre in the last decade. For years they have taken the “sign overpaid free agents” route and look where it has gotten us. While they have shown flashes of dubiety, it has resulted in early playoff exits and no hope for the future. Now, I believe minority owner Larry Tanenbaum is passionate about the Maple Leafs but the other owners may be too lucre about their organization. Players like, Jason Allison, Jeff O’Neill, Ken Klee, Aki Berg, Alexander Khavanov, Tie Domi and Ed Belfour have been an en*****brance and a hindrance to team development. At the risk of being recondite, I think they may have to take this season with a grain of salt and simply cut their losses.
Trust me when I say, that I am just as guilty as everyone else when I hear a rumor that may not even have a shred of truth to it, to exploit and fantasize about it. That being said, a few collective suggestions from people in and around this website that make sense to me:
After reading my whole little speil on preserving young talent, this rumor may not make sense to you from my point of view, but bare with me. I was listening to Bill Waters (and I know he’s not the most resourceful talk show host) and he mentioned that Chicago announced that no player is safe. Chicago apparently, previous to the trade freeze, had been quietly offering Mark Bell and Tyler Arnason for Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan & a prospect. I like Matt Stajan alot, but the chance to receive Mark Bell and get rid of Nik Antropov is almost too good to pass up. Also, Nashville apparently wants Aki Berg and is prepared to give up a 2nd or 3rd round choice. Somehow trade Jeff O’Neill.
Under contract for next year are Mats Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Alex Steen, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Tie Domi, Wade Belak, Thomas Kaberle & Staffan Kronwall. Total salary of $15 million.
I am almost positive that they will resign restricted free agents Kyle Wellwood, Carlo Colaiacovo, Mikael Tellqvist, Jay Harrison, Andy Wozniewski, Chad Kilger & Clarke Wilm. Bringing the cap to approximately $21 million.
It is becoming more apparent that with the recent signing of Thomas Kaberle that Bryan McCabe will follow suit and will surely want at least $5 million. Which is suppose I understandable, but personally I would spend that money on Ed Jovanoski or Wade Redden. But waiting till July 1st may prove cost-worthy as they may not be able to sign either and McCabe may be lost in the process. And, although with his limited games as a Maple Leaf, I think they will retain Eric Lindros at a reduced salary. Call up Robert Earl (who is our best offensive prospect, and will be fantastic) from the Wisconsin Badgers. Now they have a cap of approximately $28 million.
Come July 1st, let go of Jason Allison, Ken Klee, Alexander Khavanov, Mariusz Czerkawski and Ed Belfour.
Assuming all this goes occurs (which is in the realm of possibility), they have a roster of:
Bell – Sundin – Lindros
Steen – Arnason – Tucker
Kilger – Wellwood – Ponikarovsky
Earl – Wilm – Domi
McCabe – Kaberle
Colaiacovo – Harrison
Kronwall – Wozniewski
Rask or Pogge
Use remaining cap space to fill in voids on defense and perhaps goaltending (Brendan Witt? Curtis Joseph?). Thusly, they cut the proverbial fat so to speak while still maintaining a playoff contending team while slowly developing their promising youngsters. Ergo, it is not absolutely imperative to bring in top name free agents or conjure up ridiculous trade rumors that are completely one-sided. Though one thing is for sure, this stance at mediocrity must be dealt with.