With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft coming up next weekend, the rumors involving the Toronto Maple Leafs, and what they plan to do this offseason, are going to heat up.
Will that mean something big will go down right before the Edmonton Oilers make their first overall selection? That has yet to be decided, but there are certainly rumblings of that nature.
Will the Leafs be players for some of the top free agents come July 1st? Again, it has yet to be decided, but the talks are starting to swirl.
This seems like a good year for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make a splash.
They had a good season last year but faltered in the end. This year, after experiencing a whole season fighting for a playoff spot, they will be hungry to do so again. This young and inexperienced team will now know what it takes to put together an 82-game season.
Bringing in that extra talent now should put them into a playoff spot, and after all, with Brian Burke manning the ship, that is the main goal.
With Burke on a team as popular as the Leafs, the rumors are always flying, and here are the latest ones to be circulating around the team so far this offseason.
Although Burke was quick to shut down any rumor that was spreading concerning Luke Schenn being part of a package deal to the Oilers in return for the No. 1 pick overall, it does not mean he is not interested in moving up.
Damien Cox, a Toronto Star columnist tweeted (via the EdmontonJournal.com):
"Don't believe rumours Leafs will make major play to get to No. 1. They wouldn't move Schenn or Gardiner for the pick, let alone a flip."
Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun also reports that Brian Burke feels the same way at the moment:
"We are keeping the pick," Burke said in an e-mail. "We may move up or down, it's hard to say. Based on today, we'll pick fifth."
The Leafs are always looking for a quick fix, however, and talent on the offensive side of the puck is one of their big needs. Although Burke does not seem to be all over moving up to get that first overall pick, he may still do so to get a top three player, and one that will most likely be able to play in the NHL next season.
There have been rumors that the Leafs have had meetings during the playoffs with both Yakupov and Galchenyuk. The agent of both players, Igor Larionov, tells Andrey Osadchecnko on oilersnation.com (via Yahoo Sports) that both players met with Brian Burke, and that the Leafs seem to be interested in each player.
This interest Burke is showing further adds to the speculation he his interested in moving up to grab an NHL-ready forward.
Justin Shultz, a second-round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, has yet to sign a contract with the Ducks.
Which means, come July 1st, he will be available to sign elsewhere.
The deal will have to be a standard, entry level deal, and David Staples of the Edmonton Journal says that the best way to convince Shultz to choose the team over all the others is to guarantee him a spot on the opening day roster.
Although there is a risk involved in that process—as Shultz has never played a game in the NHL.
However, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke may not care too much about that fact.
Burke was Anaheim's GM when Shultz was drafted, so he already saw something in the defenceman that he liked. If Burke feels that Shultz still has everything he drafted him for, then Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun says that we should expect the Leafs to be one of the first teams interested.
Shultz put up 44 points, playing in 37 games last year while at the University of Wisconsin. He seems to be prepared to make the step to the NHL level.
Even the Ducks reportedly wanted to sign him just so he could play in the last couple games of the 2011/12 season, meaning losing a year off a contract for just that short time period, says Hornby.
It is not just the latest rumor about him being shipped off to Edmonton in a package to get the first overall pick that begs the question: Is Luke Schenn ever going to be secure on the Toronto blue line?
It cannot be healthy on his ego that every opportunity there is for trades to happen, his name gets thrown around.
This might be because it is the easiest name to mention, or maybe there is some truth behind it. Are the Leafs willing to part ways with their young defender?
Should the Leafs manage to land Justin Shultz and guarantee him a roster spot, that would leave only one space in the top six for Schenn. You have to expect Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Gardiner and Liles will all be above him on the depth charts, considering the year Schenn had.
If that is true, then it would make sense why his name keeps popping up in all the rumors surrounding the team.
It seems like this rumor gets started every time it has the opportunity to do so. In recent times it has seemed a lot more likely than it does now.
But nonetheless, it is still being mentioned throughout the hockey world that the Toronto Maple Leafs have an interest in the big, strong winger from Columbus.
Looking at Rick Nash, it is easy to see how great of a fit he would be in Toronto—if Toronto was a team that would be guaranteed to make the playoffs.
Yes, you can say that with Nash on the team they will, but he does not want to be stuck in another situation like he was in with the Blue Jackets. If he is to go anywhere, it will most likely be a team expected to be in the playoffs next year, guaranteed.
But that does not stop Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch (via bluejacketsxtra.com) in starting the fire under Leaf Nation that Nash may be coming to play in his hometown. Portzline says that there have been numerous teams that have inquired to Blue Jackets GM Scott Howson on what a deal might cost to land Nash.
Of those teams said to have considerable interest is, yet again, the Maple Leafs.
The No. 1 priority it seems for the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason is getting themselves a capable, No. 1 goalie.
Steve Simmons of The Toronto Sun says that Roberto Luongo now becomes the best option for the Leafs to fill their crease. However, he also mentions that with the length that is left on the deal that Luongo has, it may be a win-lose situation.
Yes, for one, the Leafs will get a world class goalie who can steal games and maybe put the Leafs into a secure playoff spot. On the other hand, they do not give any room for young goalies, such as Reimer and Scrivens, to advance.
With Burke not having the success that he originally had planned once building his team in Toronto, he may have to scrap some of the future in net to make sure there is a future for him with the Leafs.
Luongo, even with the lengthy contract, still is the most logical option on the goalie market this offseason, says Simmons.