Let's all agree on one thing right from the get go: Brian Burke has failed to deliver on most of what he has promised since he was hired as the Toronto Maple Leafs' next president and general manager in November 2008.
Despite growing the Leafs' farm system to a level few thought possible in such a short period of time, none of that growth has translated to success at the NHL level. And lets face it—the Toronto Maple Leafs' prospect pool is improved, but it is nowhere near strong enough to expect their budding NHLers to rescue the franchise anytime soon.
The Leafs' roster has many questions surrounding it at all positions. It is reasonable to expect that there may be an answer or two coming from the Marlies at some point; however, Brian Burke is going to have to shore up his roster in short order for any noteworthy change in this team's general direction since they last made the playoffs.
Trades are certainly a possibility. I would expect that if Burke is going to bring any kind of star power into town, the trade route is really his only option. In my opinion, he should exercise that option in favour of bringing in a No. 1 center.
After all, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter are not rumoured to have any interest whatsoever in playing in Toronto. Few could blame them when a franchise such as the Detroit Red Wings has so much cap room and a winning tradition to offer.
Thankfully, free agency is not limited to the few stars who may be available come July 1st. The Leafs have many more deficiencies than simply a first-line centerman, which will likely only be acquired via trade, and are certainly more than just one player away from making the postseason.
Instead of discussing positional needs, I would like to focus on what's available in this year's free-agent class to address what this team needs more of, and what Brian Burke promised he would deliver:
Sheer size, infinite tenacity, unrivaled toughness and a raw, unbridled will to win.