Wouldn't Hurt the Leafs to Stay Old

The time has obviously come for the Maple Leafs to start thinking about the future. We can see that the team is no longer going to neglect that part of the game with the moves they have made. No they have not yet acquired any top young players but they have set themselves up for that to happen by putting in place a strong scouting staff. With input coming from the likes of John Ferguson, Shawn Simpson, Craig Button, Barry Trapp, Mike Penny, Pat Quinn, Paul Maurice this area of their organization has greatly improved. In a few years the Leafs may start to reap the benefits of their hard work and dedication to the process.

However in the short term, the Leafs wouldnt be too bad if they remained a veteran group. There are good reasons why the Leafs should go this route. One, by sticking with veterans, it will keep the Leafs competitive. Now they may not be good enough to win the cup but they should have enough gas to get the team to the playoffs and most importantly bring in big time playoff profits. Secondly, by staying old, the team will have more players under 1 year contracts leaving the door open for more cap room in the following seasons. This is important because the free agency age is going to decline every year from 31 to 29, then to 28 and finally to 27 (or younger if the player has 7 years of service). Grabbing players at that age with likely 5-7 good years left in their bodies is more attractive than sticking with players 30 plus for the long term.

The Leafs are one team that can take advantage of that situation as they have the money to pay up to the cap limit, a great hockey market and is home or close to home to many NHLers in the off season. They can take advantage of this if they end up with very few players under contract when this situation of younger free agency comes up.

So it may serve the Leafs best to stay a veteran group for next season.

Here are the Leaf salaries after the rollback.

2005-2006 salary

Mats Sundin $6.84 million

Owen Nolan $5,627,047

Ed Belfour $4.56 million

Bryan McCabe $3.458 million

Tomas Kaberle $2.28 million

Ken Klee $1.9 million

Darcy Tucker $1.596 million

Matt Stajan $805,600

8 Players $27,066,647

Buying out Nolan would bring the payroll down to roughly 21.5 million.

The Leafs need big improvements on defence. Sticking with Mccabe and Kaberle would still be ok. They are solid number 2 or 3 blueliners but it still leaves the Leafs lacking a top dog on defence. The defence I would not want back is of course Aki Berg and also Ken Klee as I think the Leafs could get a similar player at a lower price. Getting rid of Klee wil bring the payroll down further to approx. $19.6 Million.

Resigning Leetch would be a good idea. I have a feeling he doesnt want to play for a third team. It either comes down to the Rangers, Leafs or Retirement. The Leafs could keep him at $3 million. Because he is closing in on 40 and had a year off, who knows how good he still is so 3 million makes sense.

Signing a guy like Mike Rathje would make sense as well. He is big, tough and solid in his own end. If he gets to play with a solid partner like he did in San Jose playing with Ragnarsson he should be the steady player he was with the Sharks. The Leafs could probably land him for roughly $2 million.

Another solid player to sign would be Teppo Numminen. Yeah he is getting up there in age but he is crafty and can still help a team if he isnt asked to do too much. He could be had at roughly 1.1 million.

Bringing back Bryan Marchment at the league minimum of $450K would make sense to add depth to the team. He is a solid team player and a good veteran that fits in with this team. With Coliacovo at around 800K the Leafs blueline would be in solid shape. Coliacovo would inject some youth, plus gain valuable experience learning from a guy like Leetch by playing with him. It will make it easier for toronto to work players in and out of the lineup with the farm team in town.

From this the defence would have:

Leetch McCabe

Kaberle Rathje

Numminen Coliacovo


Total cost for the defence: $13.1 million

In goal the Leafs have Belfour at $4.5 million. I think the Leafs should buy him out and bring back Curtis Joseph. Buying out Belfour would bring the Payroll down further to 15.1 Million. Despite some difficulties with coach Pat Quinn, Cujo is still loved by the Leaf fans and still has many friends on the team. All he needs to do is show up and play, he doesnt need to be friends with Pat. he could get a nice $3 million dollar deal and get to stay close to home. I am sure he does not want to uproot his family too far away from Ontario which is why Detroit made sense. Getting a backup at the league minimum would be a good idea too considering Cujo’s age. It would be nice to have another goalie the team can rely on in an emergency. I think Mike Dunham would come cheap. He has had a rough time the last couple of years but he could easily fill in for 25-30 games and keep things honest. He could probably be had for $750K

So in goal:



Total Cost of Goalies: 3.75 Million

With Nolan out, only Sundin, Tucker and Stajan remain up front. The Leafs would be smart to resign their 4 key unrestricted forwards. I could see the Leafs definitely bringing back Tie Domi at something like 700K. The fans love him, he is still a capable 4th line player and a great team guy. Also helps that he is close to Sundin. Roberts and Nieuwendyk are a packaged deal. at their age and with their injury histories, they will likely face paycuts. I could see them getting signed at around 1.5 million each. However they can still help the Leafs and definitely want to stay. Their value in the playoffs is great. The other key guy to bring back would be Alex Mogilny. He has said he would come back for less. With his age as well and his injury troubles, he will not command as much as he once did. I could see Alex getting $1.5 million. he could also get some contract with a low base salary with incentives. He is such a good offensive player that if the game opens up, Almo could really benefit from it.

Other players like Chad Kilger and Wade Belak at the league minimum would also be a good idea. Nothing wrong with adding guys with size to add depth to the roster. These two can play multiple positions too which helps. It would allow the Leafs to carry a short roster, especially with the Marlies in town and this will help keep costs down. The Leafs could add a free agent from Europe as well such as Mikael Samuelsson. here is another guy who could add some good size to the team and help them add more depth. He could probably come cheap like around 500K.

As for help coming from the outside, I think the Leafs are going to be out of the running for guys like Forsberg, Naslund, Kariya or Palffy. But one player that definitely is on the Leafs radar is Eric Lindros. He could probably be had at the league minimum and have a real incentive laden deal. The guy has always wanted to play in Toronto and I can see him doing that….as a Left winger. There is not much room at centre for him but he did play the wing in NY and guys like Niewy and Sundin have wing experience as well. Quinn can mix and match as he so chooses. You can never have too many centres. Lindros is a health risk, but if he can stay out of the infirmary, he can be a big asset.

Another player the Leafs will target is Jeff O’Neill. He is currently a retricted free agent but likely will not receive his qualifying offer from the Canes. If that was the case then the King City native would welcome a return close to home. Though he struggled in his last year with the Canes with injuries and low production, he was a decent scorer in the past. perhaps a change in scenery is what he needs. He could probably be had for 2 million.

Another player who could come cheap is Anson Carter. Here is another player who has struggled some the past year but he still has something to offer some team. He could probably be had for $900K and would add nice depth to the team. He could be a solid 3rd line winger with the ability to move up. Being a Toronto native is also another incentive to play with the Leafs.

SO up front:

Lindros Sundin O’Neill

Roberts Nieuwendyk Mogilny

Tucker Stajan Carter

Domi Kilger Samuelsson


Total cost of Forwards: $19.05 million

Team payroll would be at $35.9 million. This will allow some wiggle room for bonuses, acquiring other players outside and for callups. certainly some of the players i mentioned as possibles could make more or less give or take a few hundred thousand.

This may not quite be a championship calibre team as there are age, injury and depth questions that will still linger, especially with such an old group. But again they will be competitive. And if they can grab as many guys as they can with one year deals, that would open up tons of cap room for the following summer(s) so that the Leafs can take advantage of the younger free agent age.

18 Responses to Wouldn't Hurt the Leafs to Stay Old

  1. koolcory77 says:






  2. ranger_fan says:

    The Leafs will have as good a chance of winning the Stanley Cup next year as the Hamilton Bulldogs.

  3. wingerxxx says:

    There will be better options on the market this summer than Lindros…and by that little roster diagram, it looks like he is on the left wing. He can barely play right wing, much less left wing. So no go there. He is simply not a very good option for Toronto, unless they want to risk signing him and losing Nieuwendyk. Which would be a stupid move.

    Anson Carter is not a third line player. He is not a good defensive checker. In order to produce, he needs a lot of ice time on the top two lines. Plus, he is way too streaky. So no go there, again.

    There is absolutely no reason to bring in someone like Numminen, IF you had a top 4 defense like that. Being a number 5 defenseman, Teppo would have an extremely neglible impact on a game. Marchment I could see coming back, Numminen, no.

    I mean, bottom line, we don’t know what these players are going to be asking for, and signing for just yet. And that roster of forwards would be absolutely horrifying offensively. I would think that Ferguson would be smart enough to inject at least one good penalty killer into that lineup.

  4. wingerxxx says:

    they’d be horrifying DEFENSIVELY, not offensively. My fault.

  5. jacosta says:

    I posted an article like this on a few other forums that I check out so if you are like me you might have read this elsewhere.

    Here is my take.

    The purpose of this post is to think about this coming year with a clearer head then some others. So many reports come out all explaining different ways to retool this team. Who should we buy out, not resign etc etc.

    The question I raise though is why worry about this year? Every player coming back may struggle in the new NHL, Goalies that you once thought were up and comers may disapoint with the new pads, and rules.

    Some of those defensive specialists may (I repeat, may) be nailed with penalty calls all over the place. Some players may also take the entire year to recoup from the rust. Also these UFA’s that are coming off injury years may come back better or worse then before. It will be a very interesting year.

    So why rush??? Why not resign most of the team back for one year deals?

    For Example. Guys like Joe, Leetch,and Roberts are all ready to retire and they know it. All they want is one more year. (maybe not Roberts) So sign each of them to one year deals, even Domi. You know that they will have the chemistry and you know what your getting.

    You may still have to tinker with some free agents but I think you only get guys you really want and ones that can stay for a few years. So forget Kariya.

    If you sign most of the RFA’s and UFA’s to one year deals then next year you will have a greater opportunity to assess the potential UFA’s after a year of the new NHL.

    Next year you would retire, Joe, Roberts, Domi,Leetch, Klee and Kaberle becomes a UFA (which you could resign now for less or let go) Plus whoever you only signed for one year.

    Next years potential crop of UFA’s include Thornton, Lecavalier, ST Louis. and please post any other big names that you know of as UFA’s

    Therefore I say bring almost everyone back, sign them for one year and the only free agents you sign are one’s that will make getting next years UFA’s a little easier.

    ie. Jeff Oneil (a replacement for Roberts)

    Jason Allison(Give him another chance and if he is successful could entice Joe Thornton to come.)

    And the last guy you sign is Glen Murray (Once again with the intention to get Joe next year)

    The defensive core unfortunately would stay the same with

    Mcabe, Leetch

    Kaberle Klee

    Coliacovo Pilar

    Not great but all with the goal of next year.

    In short, Keep Robert, Niewy, Domi, Leetch, Poni


    Lose Almo, Antro(don’t qualify him or buy him out) Belak Berg.

    Sign: Oneil Allison Murray and if you can a decent Defenseman

    Buy out Nolan

    Again I don’t think you win with this line up but you lose a bunch of guys next year when the FA’s can really be interesting

  6. nordiques100 says:

    ok to clear things up, i chose those players i mentioned for an example of who the leafs could get. they certainly can be interchanged with any other player in the league who is free. they are certainly not the best players around but my point is for the leafs to remain above water and not really trying to put together a championship team. they would make the playoffs with guys like niewy, roberts etc back.

    it is not impossible that the big stars would come to toronto but not likely at this point. the leafs can stay with what they have and still be a playoff team. my point is that the leafs should do that so that when the free agent age gets lowered, tehy take advantage of it. first by signing players who wont cost much and secondly for long term like lindros and numminen. then when the following summer comes around, they can go after players who are in their 20s as free agents.

    i in fact would love the leafs to completely start from scratch and go with a big youth movement. that would mean huge buyouts, perhaps trading away sundin, tucker, mccabe, kaberle and forget about signing their own UFAs. sick with antropov, stajan, pony, coliacovo, steen, tellqvist and get some high draft picks, young prospects in trades in return. then the following summer go after the big prize free agents and build a younger, faster, stronger team.

  7. PayUpSucka says:

    Checking TSN.Ca looks as though Jeff O’neill wants to play in TO. I can see the team adding O’Neil, Rathje, Lindros and Foote, that’s about it with the wiggle room they have. I’d take those 4 in a heartbeat.

  8. nordiques100 says:

    with domi, roberts, niewy and maybe leetch and almo returning and hell i would fall over if the leafs won the lottery

    but as you know pay up, the best leafs can do is bing crosby not sidney, sam roberts not gary, elmo not almo, tatum o’neill (minus john mcenroe) not jeff and brett lindros not eric

  9. PayUpSucka says:

    I know man, whatta joke. I read the posts here and laugh. It’s like, shite, noone wants to play there. People seem to think they can’t or won’t be able to sign guys, which anyone with half a brain can tell you is absolute bull shite.

    God forbid you mention a marquee player, you get roasted for it, even though you’re quoting an alternate source.

    I’ll take Bing Crosby for a one hundred Alex.

    Oh well Nords, long season bro, we better suck it up and get used to all the moronic statements.

  10. PayUpSucka says:

    C’mon rags, you know we’d walk away with the Calder!!! haha

  11. habs_punk says:

    Of course you’d take those 4 in a heartbeat. Pretty much anybody would. Lindros’ health problems aside, those four players could seriously help any team out, which is why it is incredibly unlikley the Leafs will get all of them. Maybe one or two, but not all of them.

  12. PayUpSucka says:

    More likely than Pronger, Murray, Blake, Kariya etc bro. It is highly unlikely, but not unheard of.

  13. 92-93 says:

    fascinating read.

    I think you’ve got a good point about waiting a year to go after free agent players in their 20s. but there are certain players that are available now and will be available for cheap. perhaps in a year or two the NHL will be making more money and the salaries will, correspondingly, increase.

    the next month is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Leafs to sign guys like Rathje, Murray, O’Neill, and especially Allison (coming off an injury and will have a lower asking price then 2 years down the line when he would have shown his value and would therefore ask for more money).

    there are numerous ‘young veterans’ (late 20s-early 30s) out there that would make T.O. a more competitive team and be more valuable to the Leafs in the long-run then say Mogilny, Nieuwy, or Roberts (well, actually, despite his age I think Roberts is a young veteran because he is so fit, effective, and will be playing until he is 45).

    Allison and Stajan would replace Sundin, O’Neill or Murray (maybe Stevie Sullivan) would replace Mogilny and Nolan, and Rathje (along with Klee) could teach the upcoming Leafs D-prospects (Hedin, Colliacovo, Bell, White, etc.) how to play sound D.

  14. PayUpSucka says:

    I like your train of thought and i’d like to subscribe to your newsletter.!! haha

    No seriously, that plan sounds much more sound than most reads here, even my own. It would rid us of the aging veterans but at the same time won’t leave us with a team full of rookies for the next 3 years. That’s what so beneficial about this deal for the leafs, the age at which free agency can be attained is going to help us more than anyone.

  15. GlenSather says:

    Why do you Maple Leafs fans insist that Leetch is going to sign with your team. Not happening He Loves New York and is coming back his family is here his kids are here. Face it you rented him for the playoffs now he will come back to N.Y. area and even if its not the Rangers it will be the Devils who sign him. Either way Leafs fans you will have to resign Ken Klee instead and be happy with it.

    P.S. thanks for the prospects for Leetch.

  16. ranger_fan says:

    The Leafs couldn’t beat those Phantoms lol

  17. wingerxxx says:

    Sather and Leetch need to patch things up first, before he comes back…but yeah, I’d love to see him wearing a Rangers sweater again too. But he has got to have some help and a stable partner (NOT Poti). Leetch would be a great mentor for Tyutin.

    The Leafs could use a stay at home defender along the lines of Rathje.

  18. big_booty says:

    The notion of Curtis Joseph returning to the Leafs is absolutely laughable. There is a better chance of Eric Lindros making nice with Bob Clarke than seeing Cujo and Pat Quinn break bread together.

    Leetch has absolutely no attachment to Toronto and never wanted to play there in the first place (which most Leafers consider a mortal sin). The assumption that he would re-up with the Leafs is folly.

    As I said in an earlier post, the Leafs are going to look pretty much the same as they did the last time we saw them – old, streaky, poorly coached, over-rated, and flawed.

    The last time we saw them, they weren’t good enough to win the Cup.

    The more things change…

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