Realistically, the Maple Leafs can’t do much. They must change the shape of this team and the core group in order to be more successful next season. Expect Cliff Fletcher to do just that after having his hands tied behind his back at the trade deadline.
Here’s a list of players who shouldn’t be extended at the end of this season:
Mats Sundin - a great Leaf but we’ve seen the team manage to do so much without him. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this may be a case of the Ewing Theory. In 2001-2002, the Leafs lost Sundin to a broken left wrist in a series against the New York Islanders. They managed to win game 5 and 7 at home without Sundin to advance. They advanced to face Ottawa in the second round. Led by Gary Roberts, the Leafs beat the Sens by taking game 6 and 7.
In the next round, the Leafs met up with the Carolina Hurricanes. I know, you were thinking “how the hell did those guys get there?" The Leafs had lost 9 regulars by this time, after 2 grueling seven game series. They did get Sundin back, but he couldn’t help them beat the Canes as they lost in 6.
Now this season, even though Sundin played some of the best hockey of his life, the Leafs played best without him. Only now when he is back they get eliminated from playoff contention. We’ve also seen the best from Steen and Stajan...I think it’s time to let go.
Kyle Wellwood - The-guy-who-never-would-condition. When he first came into the league, everyone said he was too small. The same was said about Daniel Briere. Kyle could have lasted in the league and with the Leafs, had he stayed in shape and conditioned. His lack of this has resulted in his horrible sports hernia. He couldn’t score regular season goals if could save his free-falling career.
John Pohl - He’s old, pointless, and hasn’t accomplished much with this franchise.
Andy Wozniewski - please learn how to skate.
Jason Blake - he’s made this season look fairly respectable. However, with that money tied up we could do much more things.
Andrew Raycroft - He needs to start his career off again somewhere where he will be used. He will not be used in Toronto or even slightly cared for.
Carlo Colaiacovo - Great defencemen, but we haven’t ever seen him play up to his full potential because of injuries. It’s time to let go and hope he can excel somewhere else.
Pavel Kubina - Only performed at the end of the season because he had the most to lose. Get rid of him while we can get something for him.
Mark Bell - Waive him not just because he’s going to jail but because he’s done nothing productive all season.
According to my calculations at this point we’ll have used $28.9 million used up on our cap. The cap is expected to increase about $3 million to $53.6 million.
Here’s a list of players I think Toronto should re-sign:
Steen - already done and added into the calculations.
Stajan - should be signed and receive a deal in the same area as Steen. $1.7 million for 3 years.
Moore - great role player for the team but doesn’t deserve a raise: $700,000 for 2 years.
Clemmensen - should get a deal similar to the one he received last season: $500,000 for a year.
These re-signings put the Leafs to $31.8 million with 11 forwards, 5 defencemen, and 3 goalies. We will need to add in about 7 forwards (1 centre, 3 left wings, 3 right wings), 3 defencemen, and 1 goalie for which we go to the free agent list.
Daymond Langkow should be our ideal centre for our first line. He should receive a $3.7 million deal for 2 years.
Vaclav Prospal is just a guy who puts up points and scores and he’s fairly consistent with his scoring. He should get a $2.5 for a year with a chance to deal him at the deadline and get valuable assets.
Paul Gaustad is a decent point producer and he is a great role player. He should get a $900,000 deal for 2 years.
Kristian Huselius is another consistent scorer and he’s not a defensive liability for a winger. He should get a $2.85 for 2 years.
John Michael Liles is a great defencemen and he plays hard when it counts but he will get a raise. He should get $2.25 for 2 or 3 years.
With this, the Leafs are up to $44 million on the cap for next season. The rest of the roster must be filled through the draft and the Marlies.
Should Kulemin come to the NHL next season, he hits the Leafs for about $1.4 million for a total of $45.4 million. With only about 5 more spots to fill with either entry level or minimal dollar contracts, the Leafs should be looking at $47.5 million against the cap and $6 million of space.
Here’s what I think the Leafs should do in the draft:
As of right now, the Leafs are in 7th last place. They should be getting between a 3rd to 9th pick. I’ll go with them having the 7th pick. (These draft positions are rough estimates.)
1st round 7th overall - Cody Hodgson should selected with this pick. He’s a smart and skilled player with a mind for the net and accountable defensively.
2nd round pick 37th overall - gone to Phoenix for Yanic Perreault.
2nd round 26th overall - from Pittsburgh, get a defensive minded forward
3rd round 67th overall - get a European defencemen hope for great scouting
Here’s a brief picture of what our depth charts would look like:
Huselius - Langkow - Antropov
Prospal - Steen (A) - Tucker
Tlusty - Stajan (C) - Ponikarovsky
Moore - Devereaux - Gaustad
Liles - Kaberle (A)
White - McCabe
Stralman - Kronwall
Toskala - Pogge and Clemmensen switching it up as back-ups.
Come on, tell me you don’t feel that??
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