Blue Line Crowded for Leafs on Their Way to the Cup

Graeme BoyceCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2009

MONTREAL , QC - JUNE 27:  Jesse Blacker greets team representatives after being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs during the second day of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

As we all know, it's getting a little uncomfortably crowded in the Maple Leafs locker room, especially along the blue line.  Something's gotta give.  We know Brian Burke isn't finished wheeling and dealing prior to the puck dropping on a highly awaited new season, and we would all begrudgingly agree that Thomas Kaberle is on the block.

Francois Beauchemin.  What a pickup.  On top of Mike Komisarek.  Garnet Exelby is no slouch, and will be a lot of fun to watch.

I wonder what Kaberle would fetch, though I also wonder how Burke would position the diminutive player—yet with an extremely affordable price tag, and so another player would naturally become part of the package.  I have previously written about blockbuster trades.  We need a sniper—a player up front who can finish around the net.  Phil Kessel comes to mind.

Chicago is shopping some good players, like Patrick Sharp, who will probably gone by the time I publish this article.  Then there's Buffalo and Drew Stafford.  Yes, the same one who scored the highlight reel goal against Justin Pogge last winter.  And David Backes currently in St Louis.  I could see Brett Sonne thrown in to tip the scales.

So then I wonder about who else might be available as a valuable addition to a multi-player trade.  A player that has tipping point potential: Lee Stempniak, who didn't exactly exceed my expectations last year.  But he's not going back to St Louis.  He is from Buffalo and would likely enjoy a "fan favorite" billing there, as he obviously has plenty of potential.

I guess Jonas Gustavsson backing up Vesa Toskala is a good move and proving to be a useful visit to Sweden for Burke after all, while also providing clarity for Curtis Joseph and Martin Gerber as Justin Pogge is slated for another season with the Marlies.

Speaking of the farm team, Mikhail Stefanovich looks real good, and big Jimmy Hayes is one to watch too—and of course Ryan Hamilton, who's jockeying to grab a spot in the big club's lineup down the left wing.  Looks who's there: Jason Blake, Poni, Niklas Hagman, Nikolai Kulemin and Brad May.

One last point.  Two words: Ryan Hollweg.  Oh yeah.  He's a left winger.  It is a crowded locker room indeed.