Toronto Maple Leafs: Predicting the Leafs' Opening Day Lineup for 2012-13
Keep in mind these are predictions, not recommendations, so don't be upset if the contents of this slideshow don't match your ideal vision for the lineup.
We'll begin with the goalies, followed by the defenders and finally, the forwards.
Feel free to leave your predictions in the comments below.
Jonas Gustavsson will depart via free agency and James Reimer will get traded (not necessarily in the deal for Luongo).
Between Scrivens and Reimer, the latter has higher trade value and could be a valuable piece in a potential Luongo deal, a deal for a top-six forward or a deal for a high first-round pick.
Rumours are floating around that general manager Brian Burke could be fired as soon as this month, and although TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that these rumours are false, the ownership group will be forced to start considering a replacement for Burke if the Leafs don't make the playoffs in the upcoming season.
Therefore, it is imperative that Burke does everything he can to improve the present without hurting the future.
Luongo will come relatively cheap and will be a huge upgrade in net.
There are young goalies out there who are probably available, but none would provide the stability and certainty that Luongo would bring.
Young goalies, like Jonathan Bernier or Anders Lindback, could also cost assets that Burke might be unwilling to part with, such as Luke Schenn or Nazem Kadri.
Dion Phaneuf—Carl Gunnarsson
John-Michael Liles—Luke Schenn
Jake Gardiner—Justin Schultz
The Leafs will steal Justin Schultz from the Anaheim Ducks' clutches and stick him next to his old college buddy, Jake Gardiner.
Many Leaf fans would probably prefer the two to play as the second pairing, but $3.875 million and $3.6 million will likely overrule their objections.
Cody Franson will be traded in a package for something (possibly a higher first-round pick).
Korbinian Holzer will either get traded as well or will try and fail to crack the Leafs' roster.
Joffrey Lupul—Tyler Bozak—Phil Kessel
Nazem Kadri—Mikhail Grabovski—Matt Frattin
Nikolai Kulemin—Alex Galchenyuk—Joey Crabb
Leo Komarov—David Steckel—Mike Brown
The Leafs will move their fifth overall pick in the upcoming draft along with some other assets to acquire Montreal's spot at third overall (new management hopefully means less animosity between the two clubs). The Canadiens won't mind picking a little lower because they feel they'll still get a great player at No. 5. Plus, they'd acquire some useful pieces to speed up their rebuilding process.
At No. 3, the Leafs pick Alex Galchenyuk. He will impress in training camp and will earn a spot on the third line between Kulemin and Crabb.
Youngsters Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin will use their AHL playoff experience to finally earn full-time NHL jobs.
The recently signed Leo Komarov will smash his way to a fourth-line role.
Missing from the lineup are Clarke MacArthur (traded), Colby Armstrong (waived) and Matthew Lombardi (traded).
Lombardi will be relatively difficult to trade and it would be simpler to let Crabb go to free agency so that he could play on the third line.
However, Crabb worked extremely hard and did a great job for the Leafs during the 2011-12 season, and it would be criminal to ditch him in favour of the underachieving Lombardi.
Prospects Carter Ashton and Joe Colborne will spend at least a little more time with the Marlies before getting called up.
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