Offseason Moves to Make the Toronto Maple Leafs Better for the 2012-13 Season

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIIApril 30, 2012

Offseason Moves to Make the Toronto Maple Leafs Better for the 2012-13 Season

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    The Toronto Maple Leafs had one of their most disappointing years this past season. What hurts more is that the year started out so well, well enough that they were at one point the best team in the league. Then everything fell apart, necessitating changes to be made this offseason.

    The obvious needs are for a first-line center and a reliable goaltender. If the Leafs can go out and fill those needs, this offseason will finally be considered a success, and they will have a much better shot at the playoffs next season.

    Brian Burke might also make some other changes to the bottom six to fit the game that coach Randy Carlyle employs.

    This offseason will go a long way to determine the future of the Leafs and their general manager, Burke. If their offseason leads to a successful a 2012-13 season, nothing will change in terms of Burke's position. However, if the Leafs fail to make the playoffs again, Burke could be on his way out.

    Here are the steps that Burke might take to make sure that doesn't happen.

Current Roster

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    Forward Lines

    First: LW: Joffrey Lupul C: Tyler Bozak RW: Phil Kessel

    Second: LW: Clarke MacArthur C: Mikhail Grabovski RW: Nikolai Kulemin

    Third: LW: Matt Frattin C: Tim Connolly RW: Joey Crabb

    Fourth: LW: Colby Armstrong C: David Steckel RW: Mike Brown

    Extra: Matthew Lombardi, Nazem Kadri

    Defensive Pairings

    First: Carl Gunnarson and Dion Phaneuf

    Second: John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson

    Third: Jake Gardiner and Luke Schenn

    Extra: Mike Komisarek

    Goaltenders

    Starter: James Reimer

    Backup: Jonas Gustavsson

2012 NHL Entry Draft

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    The Leafs are slated to pick fifth overall in the NHL draft this summer. There will be rumors aplenty of whether the Leafs should try to trade up or just trade the pick for assets that can be used now.

    I am of the opinion that the pick should be kept and the Leafs should use that pick to select Alex Galchenyuk. He very well could be the top center in the draft, and he definitely has the talent to be a top-line center while playing a sound defensive game. While he might take another year of development, Galchenyuk is exactly the type of center the Leafs will need in the future.

Trades

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    If Brian Burke is going to be making any trades this offseason, they are likely to be blockbusters. With that, the Leafs targets have to be Roberto Luongo and Ryan Getzlaf. It might be hard to acquire a player of Getzlaf's stature, but Luongo could come pretty cheaply in terms of players sent the other way.

    Luongo's contract will really handcuff them in making any trade where they get anything close to his full value. Assuming the last three years of his contract are bought out, he will only be with the team for six seasons. There's also the possibility that he will retire around that same time, as he will be 39 after the 2018-19 season.

    With all that being said, the price for Luongo should be a second-round pick and a contract going the other way. The Leafs' deal for Luongo should end up like this:

    To Toronto: Roberto Luongo

    To Vancouver: Mike Komisarek and a 2012 second-round pick

    (Anyone suggesting that Vancouver would not want Komisarek, they might be in need of a defenseman if Sami Salo and Aaron Rome leave via free agency. Komisarek would also give them more experience on the blueline than having Chris Tanev would.)

    In the case of Getzlaf, the Leafs would really have to pony up. The Anaheim Ducks failed to make the playoffs and have ended up with the sixth-overall pick, one behind the Leafs. The Ducks aren't probably in a total rebuilding mode, but they might consider a deal that would send them some good assets. With two aging stars in Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, the Ducks might need some young players that are NHL-ready.

    Here's a potential deal:

    To Toronto: Ryan Getzlaf and a 2012 second-round pick

    To Anaheim: Tyler Bozak, Luke Schenn, Clarke MacArthur, Nazem Kadri

Free Agency

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    In last year's free agency period, Brian Burke didn't exactly earn a passing grade. Adding Tim Connolly was the only notable free-agent signing, and we all know how that worked out. This offseason isn't much different in terms of talent available, but there are definitely free agents out there who the Leafs will be interested in.

    Dustin Penner

    Dustin Penner might not have had been too successful in the past two seasons, but he can still play well. He had one of his best offensive seasons in the 2006-07 season with the Stanley Cup-winning Anaheim Ducks under Randy Carlyle and Brian Burke. Maybe a return to that type of system would get him back to where he used to be.

    Paul Gaustad

    While he was playing with the Buffalo Sabres, Paul Gaustad was a pain-in-the-behind type player that would perfectly in the system that Carlyle wants to employ. He will be one of the most sought-after players after the big names like Zach Parise and Ryan Suter sign, so the Leafs might have to overpay to acquire his services.

    Justin Schultz

    Perhaps the most intriguing prospect this offseason, Justin Schultz might become a free agent a month before every other possible free agent does. As it looks like he will not re-sign with the Anaheim Ducks, the Leafs could be one of the top possible destinations for Schultz, as they have what might be the ace in the hole in their lineup.

    Jake Gardiner was Schultz's defense partner at the University of Wisconsin before he was traded to the Leafs. A call from Gardiner might push him to sign with the Leafs

A Buyout, Demotion and a Call-Up

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    There are still several players that could pose problems within the salary cap structure of the Leafs. Here are some players whose salaries the Leafs would love to get rid of, or at least make it smaller.

    Tim Connolly

    Last year's big signing obviously didn't help, and now the Leafs have to deal with his $4.75 million cap hit. At least it's only for one more season, but if the Leafs could find a way to shed his contract, they would do it in a heartbeat.

    Matthew Lombardi

    Lombardi can still play pretty well, and his speed is an asset to any team he plays on. His $3.5 million salary is just a little much for what the Leafs use him for.

    Call-Up: Jerry D'Amigo

    With the way that D'Amigo has been playing in the AHL playoffs (three games played, five goals, six points) as well as a 41-point regular season, he has shown that he might be ready to make the jump to the Leafs next season. A regular on the Marlies' league-best penalty kill, D'Amigo might be able bring the success of the Marlies penalty kill to the Leafs.

New Roster

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    Forward Lines

    First: LW: Joffrey Lupul C: Ryan Getzlaf RW: Phil Kessel

    Second: LW: Dustin Penner C: Mikhail Grabovski RW: Nikolai Kulemin

    Third: LW: Matt Frattin C: Paul Gaustad RW: Jerry D'Amigo

    Fourth: LW: Colby Armstrong C: David Steckel RW: Mike Brown 

    Extra: Carter Ashton

    Defense Pairings

    First: Carl Gunnarson and Dion Phaneuf

    Second: John-Michael Liles and Cody Franson

    Third: Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz

    Extra: Korbinian Holzer

    Goaltenders

    Starter: Roberto Luongo

    Backup: James Reimer