The Road Ahead for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Ryan KuchelymaCorrespondent IMarch 30, 2008

For the 3rd straight season the Toronto Maple Leafs will be emptying out their lockers in early April. This years season was full of ups and downs, injuries and rumours of Paul Maurice and John Ferguson being fired. This team would make you believe in them one week, then the next make you wonder if they could even win another game.

Darcy Tucker and Jason Blake both had seasons that they would like to forget and the teams defence struggled at times leaving their goaltending out to dry.

Most hockey people believe strongly that if Mats Sundin had waived his no-trade clause that the Leafs could of had a major facelift come next season. Sundin surely would of brought in some young talent and a draft pick or two. Sundin then would of had a chance to win a cup for the first time in his career and the option to resign with the Leafs in the off season.

The Leafs will struggle to make the playoffs next year and if Sundin retires or signs elsewhere, those chances of making the playoffs will only worsen. This team needs to rebuild around a core of young players that can move this team back into the playoffs and compete for the stanley cup. But if you look at the Leafs roster they don't have a #1 center to take over for Sundin, nor do they have a legit #1 line.

The Leafs need to look at teams like the Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Phoenix Coyotes and even the Los Angeles Kings. All these teams have young future stars of the game and all may not make the playoffs this year. But if I were the manager of the Leafs, I would much rather be any one of those teams going into the future.