Without any playoff action to look forward to, the focus in Toronto shifts towards the new faces that will be added in the coming months to bring hope for next year’s campaign.
The 2011-12 version of HMCS Toronto Maple Leafs has officially sunk after a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on March 27th. She was a fine and mighty ship at the beginning, but eventually lost her way and now rests at the depths of the NHL ocean.
However, Leafs fans can be buoyed by the many options available to improve the club for 2012-13.
The Leafs look to be lottery-bound this year, especially when one considers that their remaining five games are against playoff teams with the exception of their final game against the last-place Montreal Canadiens. Ironically enough, it will be the loser of that game that gains the most.
The Leafs only have $1.04 million in cap space right now, which means that there will need to be some big deals at the draft in order to free up room in time for free agency. Look for GM Brian Burke to come out swinging—after all, his hold on his job is tenuous at this point, and he’ll want to make his mark.
However, there is the wild card of the new CBA negotiations that will be taking place in the summer to consider. There’s the possibility that the salary cap may go down and the Leafs will have even less room. There’s also the possibility that the NHL might go the way of the NBA and allow each team to rid themselves of one bad contract. At this point, we don’t know.
What we do know is the list of free agents that will be available in July. Let’s look at four in particular that should be on Burke’s radar.