Toronto Maple Leafs: Do the Right Thing, Stay the Course
It really does suck to suck. I know. I've been a Leaf fan my whole life, which is almost 24 years. I started actually realizing what hockey was and remembering games in the early '90s—Gilmour, Clark, and followed by may successful seasons in the Sundin era.
Though never reaching the ultimate prize, I can say that I got to watch a solid decade of teams that I was proud to cheer for.
I'm still proud to be a Leafs fan.
However, since the last lockout, as you all know, there hasn't been a whole lot to rally behind. There have been some moments when I thought we would be competing in the playoffs and have a chance to do some damage once getting there, but I haven't had those feelings in a few years.
First, I want it to be known that I believe in Brian Burke. I think he is a man with a plan and the right man for the job.
That being said, the pressure is on him to make the postseason. I really hope he doesn't do anything drastic that would hurt the future of the team just to go out in the first round. That's not what this team needs right now.
Would it be great to have Roberto Luongo? Yes.
Do I want to give up any prospects, picks or players like Matt Frattin, Cody Franson or Nikolai Kulemin? Absolutely not.
I think this deal will need to be a hockey trade to get things done. That is why I don't believe this deal should be done. It requires giving up on too much potential for a nasty contract that will most likely be made even worse by the new CBA.
Do you want Luongo?
What would it cost to get that much-coveted No. 1 center? Probably a lot more. And who is really to say that anyone legitimate is even available? The only person I can think of that might be—even though I hate to go there—is Ryan Getzlaf, who is in a contract year anyway. There is not guarantee he would even re-sign anyway.
Yes, you could do a trade-and-sign, but I find the odds of that happening to be very slim—especially since I would imagine that Getzlaf and Perry will want to test the open market together. I foresee them ending up signing together with a team they believe to be competitive that will offer them both great matching deals. Similar to Parise and Suter this summer.
If you accept these two points, then I'm guessing you agree with my overall conclusion. If you don't, then maybe you will see the light here, but I won't hold my breath.
If there is a season, just play it with the current roster. It will be a year filled with development for some younger guys and learning the new system under Randy Carlyle. All you can do really is hope for the best. If the team on the fence when it comes to making the playoffs, then great. I will certainly be cheering for wins. I want this team to succeed.
I won't be as depressed as I have been in the past if they flounder. If it comes to the trade deadline and things don't look good, then ship out anyone you can with an expiring contract that isn't going to fit into the long term plan of this team. UFAs after this season include the following: Joffrey Lupul, Tim Connolly, Matthew Lombardi, Clarke MacArthur, Tyler Bozak and David Steckel.
Should the Leafs unload players at the deadline for the upcoming draft?
Of those guys, the only one I really see the Leafs making a big push to re-sign and hold onto is Lupul. Bozak will fetch a second and possibly a first if teams are desperate enough and the interest is there, but that could be pushing it at the same time. Same goes for the value on MacArthur.
Personally, I'd actually like to keep Steckel for another couple of years because he is great at what he does. As for Connolly and Lombardi, they are both crap shoots since I don't even know if they are going to be in the lineup much this season, if not buried in the minors.
Quick side note on what I'm talking about: Here's a look at players most feel would be with the Leafs to start the season, and for the sake of not making up line combinations or worrying about positions, I'm simply going to list them.
Forward: Lupul, Bozak, Phil Kessel, Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, MacArthur, Frattin, Nazem Kadri, James Van Riemsdyk, Connolly, Lombardi, Steckel, Mike Brown, Jay McClement and possibly Leo Komarov.
Defense: Dion Phaneuf, Mike Komisarek, John-Michael Liles, Carl Gunnarsson, Jake Gardiner, Korbinian Holze and Franson (most likely).
That's 14 to 15 forwards and most likely seven defensemen. That doesn't fit on an NHL roster when you sprinkle in two goaltenders. But I digress.
The point is, with youth ready to come up and fill certain roles while the ship is sinking, the Leafs should be ready to restock in this deep upcoming draft. If they do badly enough and land a top-three pick, anyone of those guys will fill a necessary role.
Would you be willing to wait another couple years for the shot at building a great team?
Nathan MacKinnon and Sean Monahan would be excellent to fill that No. 1 center role. If the Leafs go for more help on the back end, Seth Jones sounds great to me as well. I mean, to have Gardiner, Morgan Rielly and Jones locking down the back end for the next 15 years? You can't tell me that doesn't make you salivate.
That doesn't even include all of the other picks the Leafs will have acquired via trade.
I guess my point is, as the title quite clearly suggests, let's stay calm and stay the course. If the Leafs make the playoffs with the roster as is, then yes—they will miss out on the elite prospects in this upcoming draft.
However, it will mean that this team actually is on the upswing. Then—by boasting just that—they may then be capable of luring top players to sign here in the offseason, and a great prospect pool.
If they flounder, then yes—it will take a little bit more time to get to the promised land. However, they will have filled all the cupboards in the prospect department, and are capable of becoming legitimate cup contenders after a few more years.
I know it sucks to suck. I'm sick of hearing from all the haters as well. But wouldn't it be great to put together a dynasty so that the Leafs can be great for another two decades? I'd trade another two years for two decades.
What about you?
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