Here is an evaluation of the Leafs' current defence core.
Thomas Kaberle A-
We should hold onto this puck moving defenceman. He is a level below the best puck moving defenders in the game, but his contract nearly puts him on par with them in terms of value. He could be very valuable in teaching Anton Stralman the ropes on the power play. I would keep him with the Leafs for the remainder of his contract.
Mike Komiserek B-
Do not let delusions of Chris Pronger come to your mind when you think of this young man. He may be the second coming of Jason Smith though, and Smith is a solid defenceman and leader. $4.5 million per season is a little pricey for a player of his ilk, but that’s what you had to pay to get his services off the open market.
Garnet Exelby C+
If not for his nasty streak and how difficult he makes himself to play against then he would be an AHL player. He won’t score but he will be an effective third pairing defender that opposing forwards will think twice about cutting through the middle of the ice when he is there.
Mike Van Ryan B-
If only this guy could stay healthy for a whole season. He is an effective offensive defenceman who will not hurt you too much in your own zone. Overall, he is a valuable player to have in any lineup.
Ian White B-
He would be a C+ but his versatility to play the wing brings him up one level. He has a great first pass out of his own zone that can often create a good offensive chance for his team. He also has a little bit of a nasty streak for a smaller player.
He can play on the second power play and penalty killing units and contribute to a team. A solid performer any team would not mind having in the lineup.
Jeff Finger C+
He is a solid defender who can chip in a little on offence, but he is built to play a shutdown role. He would be a good player to pair Luke Schenn with, as he would provide a steady influence and cover up for Schenn’s youthful errors.
Luke Schenn C+
Don’t kid yourselves Leafs fan this kid is a work in progress. Do not expect him to be leading this team for another two or three seasons at the earliest. Defencemen are like a fine wine and usually get better with age. Be patient with this young man as he has all the makings of a future captain on a Stanley Cup team.
Anton Stralman C
If not for his offensive skills he would be nowhere near the NHL. He will likely be the 7th defenceman and a power play specialist. He could develop into a player much like Thomas Kaberle. He will be an effective player if he is not given the wrong kind of minutes.
Overall this team has a fairly solid back end now. This should help Vesa Toskala immensely in the coming season. Now the Leafs need to have some more scoring and skill on their forward lines. But that is a topic to analyze another day. Chime in with your thoughts on the Leafs new defence core.