With the Maple Leafs being out of contention for the playoffs for quite some time, most people are looking towards he draft. But Brian Burke has spoken adamantly about building the team both through the draft and through free agency.
With all the talk focused on who the Leafs would take in the first round, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about what players Brian Burke should go for in free agency.
Mike Komisarek - D
6 foot 4, 237 pounds, Age 27
The type of defensemen that Brian Burke goes for is tough, gritty and good in the defensive zone. Mike Komisarek fits all those qualities and is big to boot.
Even though Montreal wants the All-Star back for next year, he might be expendable with ten other unrestricted free agents needing to be signed this off-season in Montreal.
With rumours swirling that Kubina or Kaberle will be gone by the 2009 draft, Mike Komisarek might be on the top of Burke's radar.
Travis Moen - LW
6 foot 2, 215 pounds, Age 26
The Maple Leafs currently have Brad May on the team to bring grit, experience and toughness to a line-up that has none. The problem with this is that Brad May is a 37 year old tough guy.
That is where Travis Moen comes in. He is built in the exact mold of Brad May, just 11 years younger. He may not be the best defensive player, but he brings toughness and experience that cannot be matched by most other young free agents out there.
If Brad May retires, look for Brian Burke to try everything he has to sign the experienced Moen.
Dominic Moore - C
6 foot 0, 188 pounds, Age 28
Brian Burke tried to get him signed before the trade deadline and Dominic Moore just wanted too much money.
The Buffalo Sabres traded for him to make a playoff push but it seems like they will come up just short.
With Moore expecting someone to pay over $2 million for his services, he might have to wait to find a buyer. The Maple Leafs will make an offer, it all just matters on whether he is willing to bite his pride and take a pay cut to play for his favourite team growing up.
Mike Cammalleri - LW
So why would he want to leave Calgary?
To play for his favourite team growing up of course.
He has stated that he would like to play for the Maple Leafs and all that is stopping him is how much Brian Burke is willing to pay him. If Brian Burke matches whatever Darryl Sutter offers, then Cammalleri could be in a Maple Leafs uniform real soon.
Martin Gerber - G
5 foot 11, 199 pounds, Age 34
Literally a month ago, Martin Gerber was playing for the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. Now, he is the starter of the Maple Leafs.
Since joining the Leafs, Gerber has shown the ability to play consistently, something that he could not find in Ottawa.
With Vesa Toskala showing that he needs competition to play at his best, signing Martin Gerber as a back-up could be a good decision. Just matters how much money Gerber is expecting and what exactly Burke is looking for in a back-up.
Tyler Bozak - D
6 foot 0, 165 pounds, Age 23
How this guy went so long without being drafted baffles me. In his last season in the BCHL, Tyler Bozak collected 45 goals and 83 assists for 123 points, and that's as a defensemen.
In college, his career stats over two seasons is 60 games played, 26 goals, 31 assists, and 57 points. The astonishing thing about him is that he ahsn't even reached his Junior year yet. If the Maple Leafs can get there hands on this guy, they will have a power play specialist for years to come.
Jay Bouwmeester - D
6 foot 4, 212 pounds, Age 25
He has a rare combination of size, speed, toughness and scoring ability. Jay Bouwmeester is the real deal and every team in the NHL will want him this off-season.
The only question mark with this guy is how he will perform in the post-season. With Florida, he has never made it to the playoffs. But Brian Burke is still very excited at the thought of signing this guy and he is a player that you can build a franchise around.
The Maple Leafs will throw a lot of money Bouwmeester's way. It is all a matter of which team Bouwmeester feels fits him best.
Matt Gilroy - D
6 foot 2, 195 pounds, Age 24
Matt Gilroy is the most touted college prospect this season. He has speed, size, and is a great two-way defensemen. If you can't imagine how he would play, think of a bigger, more skilled Jordan Leopold.
Brian Burke has attended several of Gilroy's games and is looking to sign him when the Frozen Four is over. But apparently 24 other teams are looking at his services. If the Maple Leafs can land this player, then they will have a great prospect that is ready for the NHL.
Yann Danis - G
6 foot 0, 181 pounds, Age 27
Before this season, Yann Danis was looking like a career AHLer who had his time in the sun with the Canadiens a couple years back.
But after Rick DiPietro went down for the season and Joey McDonald stumbled or a bit, Danis got his second shot, and boy did he take advantage of it.
On a team that is by far the worst team in the NHL, Danis has racked up 9 wins, 13 losses, 2.66 GAA and a .916 SPCT. If not for the unexpected run of Scott Clemmensen, Yann Danis would have been the comeback goalie of the year.
Mattering what Brian Burke is looking for, Yann Danis would be a perfect fit for the back-up goalie position.
Samuel Pahlsson - C
6 foot 0, 204 pounds, Age 31
Now in the prime of his career, Sami Pahlsson is the type of player you don't notice, which in his case is a good thing.
He is never out of position, he is great on the penalty kill and is one of the best in the NHL in the face-off circle. Not to mention Brian Burke was the one who traded for him.
He would fit perfectly on the fourth line and brings playoff experience and a Stanley Cup ring to the team.
All these players are not only players that Brian Burke loves to have on his teams, but also would fit well in Ron Wilson's system and fill roles that are missing on the team.
Information for this article came from NHL.com and an article on Bleacher Report called Porter's Weekly Leafland Talk: Top Free Agent's On the Market Come July 1.
I have a new blog and if you want to check it out you can go to http://shanegordonhouse.blogspot.com/ and see all my articles starting from March 7, 2009.