Five Things To Expect from the Toronto Maple Leafs Come Offseason
Both are statements that make an impact on Toronto fans everywhere, but only one seems far fetched. I would love to believe that the Maple Leafs will make the playoffs next season, but I have yet to see all the players that will be in that potential playoff caliber line-up.
Regardless of what I believe, this is what Brian Burke believes. He believes in the Toronto Maple Leafs and in this team. I not only find his straight forward remarks entertaining, but I also find them refreshing and honest. You can't help but respect his honesty and direct approach towards the media and fans.
With so much going on with an organization that has usually remained dormant and quiet at this point of the season, people can't help but speculate what will happen this offseason.
Being a die-hard fan of the Maple Leafs, I can't help myself either. This is a team going through a lot of change and I want my two cents.
Despite how many have a chance of being right, these are my predictions on what Brian Burke will do this offseason.
1. Jonas Gustavsson will be a Maple Leaf
As I was aware from both the Brian Burke's press conference and a Mark Smith article on Bleacher Report, the Maple Leafs are avidly seeking the services of Jonas Gustavsson. The only other threat for signing the player is Dallas, but Gustavsson's agent has stated that his client not only wants to play in the NHL, but have a chance to start.
Brian Burke has gone to Sweden and had a meeting with Gustavsson and told him he would have every opportunity to take the starting position from Vesa Toskala.
With money being no option (both Dallas and Toronto offered a $900,000 entry level contract), playing time and team staff are the only two things that Gustavsson has to decide on.
Judging how he has stated that he wants to play, look for Gustavsson to be in a Maple Leafs uniform very soon.
2. Brian Burke will try to move up in the draft to get John Tavares
Ever since the Leafs season began, I have dreamed of the thought of having Tavares in a Leafs uniform. he is the type of elite player that the Leafs sorely missed this season and is a player that Burke is not scared to go for.
"We'll immediately attempt to move up," Burke said during a morning news conference. "We're going to talk to everyone between us and the first pick and see what the landscape is. We're going to see what it costs and we're going to try and move up."
In the press conference, Brian Burke also spoke very highly of Tavares. He talked about how he shows the will to win at whatever cost and how he is very strong down the middle.
I personally have never seen Burke talk so highly of a prospect, not even about Chris Pronger or the Sedin twins when he traded for them.
Make no questions, Brian Burke will do everything in his power to make this happen. It all matters on how much he has to give up for him.
3. Either Tomas Kaberle or Pavel Kubina will be traded this offseason
Even though this seasons play may not have dictated it, Toronto's strength is still defense.
On top of the always solid play that comes from Kubina and Kaberle, the Leafs also have the emergence of Luke Schenn, a continually growing talent in Ian White, and quality play from Jeff Finger, Jonas Frogren and Mike Van Ryn. Not to mention the players that are waiting in the minors in Jaime Sifers and Phil Oreskovic.
So with all of this depth at defense, and the Maple Leafs ready to move up in the draft, look for either Kaberle or Kubina to be traded this offseason. Both have clauses in there contracts that give the Leafs till July 1st to trade either player, and they both have given Brian Burke a list of teams that they would like to be traded too.
Whether it be for another first round pick, for another player/prospect or to help them move up in the draft, one of these players should be gone by July 1.
4. Michael Cammalleri will be a Maple Leaf
Close to the end of the season, while having contract negotiations with the Calgary Flames. Cammalleri was interviewed and asked about his contract negotiations and whether or not he was interested in going to the Maple Leafs.
I don't have the exact quote, but he stated that if the Leafs were willing to match the offer that Calgary put on the table, then he would sign with the Leafs. If not, then he would come back with the Flames.
So with that statement, a door opened for Brian Burke to sign an impact player that he can build around.
Although Cammalleri is small, he is still a very skilled player that isn't scared to get dirty. He can score goals in bunches and can fit well on a line with almost anybody.
The only problem here is once again money. Michael Cammalleri is looking for around $5.5-to-6 million a season for a long-term deal. General Manager Darryl Sutter is looking to give him around $4.5-to-5 million per season.
I could see Calgary giving him around 5.5 million seeing has Cammalleri scored 39 goals while giving Iginla a legitimate partner to work with.
The issue here is Brian Burke. He is obviously targeting players to sign but is also looking to keep the team salary down. Depending on how much Cammalleri is offered by Calgary this offseason will determine whether he is in a Flames or a Maple Leaf uniform next season.
5. Expect Brian Burke to sign two impact players come July 1st
Brian Burke is not a patient man nor a subtle man. He is not scared to be vocal when he is frustrated or going after what he wants. In his end-of-season press conference, he stated that he will be aggressive this offseason and a lot of changes will be made.
After hearing this, my mind went crazy trying to comprehend what the Maple Leafs line-up is going to look like. But seeing as it is still only the playoffs and the offseason hasn't even started yet, my mind drew a blank.
One thing I did realize is that the Maple Leafs will have a lot of salary cap room at there disposal come July 1, so money is not much of a factor.
With a combination of a General Manager looking to make changes and a lot of salary cap room, we will not only see a different team, but we will also see multiple impact players in a Leafs uniform come July 1.
I am not saying who because I honestly have no clue what is going through Brian Burke's mind. All I can say is this off-season will be a very entertaining one for the Blue and White so expect the unexpected come July 1 and you wont be surprised with what comes out of it.
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.
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