I have been hearing some ridiculous rumours about who the Toronto Maple Leafs might land, or give away. I am going to share with everyone what I think the Leafs should do to become contenders in the National Hockey League once again.
1) 2009 NHL Trade Deadline: Leading up to this day the Leafs should be major sellers, and stockpile on as many draft picks as possible. Here are some realistic trades that could help them sooner rather than later.
A) Defenseman Tomas Kaberle to the Montreal Canadiens for forward Christopher Higgins, prospect, and 2009 first rounder, conditional first rounder in 2010 (if Higgins does not resign next year).
B) Goalie Vesa Toskala and Nik Antropov to the Edmonton Oilers for foward Dustin Penner, 2009 first rounder & second rounder (maybe some one else to make salaries work)
C) Defensman Pavel Kubina to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Cody Goloubef and secnd rounder in 2009
D) Forward Alexi Ponikarovsky to the Dallas Stars for a second rounder in 2009
2) 2009 NHL Draft: This draft will be very important for the future of the franchise.
Obviously, they would draft Tavares with the first pick overall. If they land the second overall pick I would look for them to swap choices with a team looking to draft Hedman, and receive a second rounder in compensation.
With the new pick, I would either draft Matt Duchene from the OHL or Braydon Schenn (Luke's younger brother) from the WHL. Duchene is the more skilled player, while Schenn is the more complete package that Brian Burke looks for in his players. Either draft choice would be great.
Other later draft choices could be used to draft Ryan Ellis, Zack Kassian, and Ryan O'Reilly.
3) 2009 NHL Free Agents: There are some very good players the will be free agents this year that the Leafs should look at. With the cap situation and where it might head in 2010, the Leafs are in a pretty good situation.
a) Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester: He will garner a lot of attention, but if the Leafs can offer the right price they might be able to land this Canadian that is probably looking for some attention from the media
B) Defenseman Mike Komisarek: Like Jay, he will be getting a hefty raise in salary. He is a very steady d-man that many teams would love to have. Would probably come at a lower price than Bouwmeester, but may have more teams looking at him.
C) Goalie Niklas Backstrom: He will be the most coveted free agent goalie this year and the Leafs should make him a top priority. Obviously, they would have to look at Pogge and see if he is the real deal, but Backstrom is a young goaltender and may be a more reliable choice than Pogge.
4)Looking Ahead to the Future: I would target the 2010 free agent class where the Leafs should be looking to add some firepower. Rick Nash should be in a class by himself in terms of the Leafs priorities. Look for them to throw a boatload of money at him.
This is not a complete list, but if the Leafs do something similar to what I have proposed, then they will be in a good situation for years to come