NHL Draft 2012: 5 Holes the Toronto Maple Leafs Will Look to Fill at the Draft
It's no secret to anyone that this offseason may be Brian Burke's last as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Leafs Nation as a collective group are sick and tired of mediocrity, and this offseason will go a long way in making the Toronto Maple Leafs relevant again today.
The person responsible for fixing this mess is none other than Burke himself. Burke will be busy working the phones and scouting in preparation for a busy offseason and NHL draft, as he looks to fill various holes in his roster and, most importantly, make the best pick possible at the fifth position.
Don't rule out the Leafs trading out of the lottery, trading entirely out of the first round or, even better, trading up in the draft.
You cannot fill the holes in a roster with draft picks because more than 90 percent of all draft picks take two to three years to finally make it to the NHL. The Leafs will have to wait for their draft picks to make an impact.
But with that said, here's a look at five holes in the Leafs roster that they may elect to fill at the draft.
The first-line center position has long been a position the Leafs have looked to fill since the departure of a top-five Leaf of all time, center Mats Sundin.
Experiments like Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly, Matt Stajan, Nik Antropov and others have all pretty much failed, and the Leafs really do need that playmaking center to help feed pucks to perennial 35-goal scorer Phil Kessel and linemate Joffrey Lupul.
This position again may take two to three years to finally bear its fruit, but at least having it filled in the farm is a nice advantage to have.
Marlies centers Nazem Kadri and Joe Colborne are very close to making an impact with the Leafs, so you may never know. They may already have that first-line center and not know about it.
Players To Watch: Alexander Galchenyuk (first round, trade up), Mikhail Grigorenko (first round, trade up), Radek Faksa (first round, stand pat) and Brendan Gaunce (first round, trade down).
Adding Size and Toughness to the Roster
Another major hole in the Leafs attack last season was an overall lack of size on the roster.
To play a Randy Carlyle style of game, the new Leafs were just plain too small and skilled to play a grind-it-out, low-scoring, rough-and-tough style of game that Carlyle wanted them to play.
Now to get more size and toughness to the roster, this will likely be filled immediately via the free-agent market or via trade, but you can't go wrong drafting a player that fits into your team mold.
Players to Watch: Radek Faksa (first round, stand pat), Thomas Wilson (first round, trade down), Zemgus Girgensons (first round, trade down), Codi Ceci (first round, stand pat), Griffin Reinhart (first round, trade down), Brendan Gaunce (first round, trade down).
Adding Puck Movers and Smart Players to Your Defensive Depth
Brian Burke likes to build teams from his goaltender out. However, unfortunately, this plan with the Leafs has yet to show any signs of life as the Leafs have one of the worst team goals against in the NHL, a terrible penalty kill (well, at least for half the year), and no clear No. 1 goalie.
You will not be getting a clear No. 1 goalie at the draft that's ready to make his mark on the NHL, but you may be able to get a defenceman that may be ready for prime time.
Players to Watch: Ryan Murray (first round, stand pat), Griffin Reinhart (first round, trade down), Codi Ceci (first round, stand pat), Mathew Dumba (first round, stand pat), Morgan Rielly (first round, stand pat), Jake Trouba (first round, trade down), Matt Finn (first round, trade down) and Olli Maatta (first round, trade down).
The Leafs' need for a star goaltender has been a need for many years, even more than the elusive first-line center. In his last years with the team, center Mats Sundin really had no linemates with starter potential, and had one of the worst goaltenders trying to stop pucks for him.
Even with the relatively ineffective linemates and a terrible goaltender, Sundin was able to lead the Leafs to a near playoff berth.
Before that, he had the likes of Ed Belfour and Curtis Joseph manning the pipes in Toronto, and surprise, surprise, they were a playoff team. Your star player can take you so far, but your goaltending will get you to the promised land. Just ask the Tampa Bay Lightning and Unionville native Steven Stamkos.
Flash forward a few years, the Leafs are still in need of a star goaltender, and it just so happens they may have one fall right into their lap.
Goalie Roberto Luongo has asked for a trade from the Vancouver Canucks and supposedly has given them a short list of teams he would like to be trade to. According to TSN's James Duthie, Toronto was on that list.
If the Leafs are unable to make a viable trade for Luongo, look for the Leafs to try and draft a goalie within the first three rounds of the NHL draft.
Players to Watch: Malcolm Subban (first round, trade down), Andrei Vasilevski (first round, trade down), Matt Murray (second or third round), Oskar Dansk (second or third round).
With a first line that seemed to be clicking nearly all season, it was the lack of scoring depth that really hurt the Leafs in their attack. A second line of Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin and Clarke MacArthur has a wonderful 2010-11 campaign. However, two-thirds of that line had a down year in the following season leading to concerns about the Leafs scoring depth.
The Leafs can go a long way towards improving their scoring with a smart, savvy pick in the first rounds of the NHL draft.
Players to Watch: Nail Yakupov (first round, trade up, way up), Mikhail Grigorenko (first round, trade up), Alex Galchenyuk (first round, stand pat), Filip Forsberg (first round, stand pat), Teuvo Teravainen (first round, trade down), Zemgus Girgensons (first round trade down), Brendan Gaunce (first round trade down), Sebastian Collberg (first round, trade down) and Radek Faksa (first round, trade down).