Toronto Maple Leafs: 4 Ways NHL Lockout Will Affect the Squad

Jeff Langridge@@JeffLangridge1Correspondent IIISeptember 19, 2012

Toronto Maple Leafs: 4 Ways NHL Lockout Will Affect the Squad

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    The 2004-05 NHL lockout was not kind to the Toronto Maple Leafs. After making the playoffs for six straight years heading into the lockout, the Leafs failed to make the playoffs the next seven seasons.

    With the 2012 NHL lockout four days old, Leafs fans hope that the same thing does not happen again. With Brian Burke at the helm, the Leafs should be better equipped once it is over.

    Here are four ways the Leafs might be affected

POSITIVE: Toronto Can Take Advantage of Teams Adversely Affected by the Lockout

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    If the salary cap goes down to $58 million, 16 teams would be forced over the salary cap. With those teams forced to make moves to get under the salary cap, the Maple Leafs could be in a position to take advantage.

    They will be able to make deals with these teams that will significantly improve the Leafs roster for a low cost.

    Two years after the last lockout, a team whose general manager was Brian Burke won the Stanley Cup. While it might not be directly linked to the lockout, it's no secret that Anaheim was able to improve in the new NHL.

    While the Maple Leafs might not get the same result, they might be able to improve greatly over the next couple of years.

NEGATIVE: Junior Players Ready to Play for Marlies Wouldn't Be Able To

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    The youngest players that might have won a role on the Leafs roster in training camp, like Nazem Kadri, Joe Colborne or Carter Ashton, are now going to start the season in AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Even Jake Gardiner has been sent down.

    With all of those players that might not have been on the Marlies roster, junior players like Stuart Percy or Tyler Biggs will not receive much of a shot to make the team.

POSITIVE and NEGATIVE: If Lockout Lasts All Year, It Burns off a Contract Year

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    One hidden benefit of a season-long lockout would be the burning off of a certain few contracts.

    The final years of contracts belonging to players like Tim Connolly and Matthew Lombardi would disappear, and fans would not be disappointed by any underachieving by the two. It would also kill off one of the buyout years of Colby Armstrong and Darcy Tucker.

    On the downside, players like Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak and other good players with one year remaining on their contracts would all be free agents much sooner.

POSITIVE: 2013 NHL Draft

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    Perhaps the biggest positive of a season-long lockout would be a the Leafs' chances in the 2013 NHL draft. If the league handles the 2013 draft lottery the same way they handled the 2005 draft lottery, the Leafs are in a very good position.

    The rules of that lottery were that every team started with three balls and lost one for every playoff appearance in the past three years or No. 1 overall pick in the past four years. A team could only drop down to one ball remaining.

    This time around, the Leafs are one of the teams with neither a playoff appearance nor first overall pick.

    There would be seven teams with three balls heading into the lottery: Toronto, Calgary, Carolina, Columbus, Dallas, Minnesota, Winnipeg.

    It's not a sure thing that the Leafs would end up with the first overall pick, but they would have a higher shot than they usually do.