So it's just been all but officially announced that the Toronto Maple Leafs have hired Ron Wilson to take over the duties of Paul Maurice. This is a safe move for MLSE.
Wilson has put together a respected record with the San Jose Sharks going 49-23-10 this past season in a well rounded western conference. In five and a half seasons with the Sharks he posted a 206-134-45 record. Many people believed that San Jose would go all the way this year, but the Dallas Stars spoiled their plans by eliminating them in the second round, which ultimately resulted in Wilson being shown the door. It will be a test to see if Wilson can coach a team with little star power and just how well he can develop youth.
Now that the coach appears to be in place, just how much more needs to be done this off season?
Well, first is the question of who will be the General Manager? It looks like Trader Cliff will remain at the helm for this season, with MLSE favouring Brian Burke to come in and be the savior for 2009 on. There has been talk that Burke wants out of his contract with Anaheim--not a bad plan, but things could get ugly if his interest for Toronto begins to fade.
Next is the captain. Before I criticize Leafs Nation, I admit I was also one of the people who wanted to see Sundin traded at the deadline last season. But, I did feel that I wouldn't be against it if he decided to stay. Bashing him for not accepting a trade offer is low. The guy deserves to retire as a Leaf, but the media and fans have made it hard for him to want that now and it wouldn't be surprising to see him in a Montreal Canadiens uniform come October.
Kubina may be Toronto's best bet to land some draft picks for the future. His no-trade clause is not in effect for a short period of time beginning at the draft and there have been rumors reported that there is interest in Columbus for their first round pick. His $5 million contract isn't such a burden in the trade market right now, so there's a possibility he can be moved for a first round pick and maybe even a second round pick in a later year (Hal Gill got Toronto a second and a fifth).
It's hard to say what the Leafs could get for Blake. I personally think if the Leafs can trade him, there is a good chance he will have a stronger year. A second or third round draft pick and prospect should be a good return for Blake.
Mark Bell, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Kyle Wellwood
These guys could all be packaged in a Trader Cliff-type deal to bring some young prospects. But trading Ponikarovsky and Wellwood could be seen as a mistake in a few years.
Andrew Raycroft and Darcy Tucker
There is little to no trade value for these players so if a deal cant be reached these players could be bought out.
Returning core players:
Nik Antropov, Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Alex Steen, Matt Stajan
The Leafs seem to be interested in Mikkel Boedker for their seventh overall draft pick. The 5'11 winger could bring some speed grit and scoring touch to the team.
This guy will either be a solid player for the Leafs or a flash in the pan. He played well on a line with Alex Ovechkin and Evengi Malkin on the international ice and has kept a scoring touch without them.
He should develop into a second line player by the years end.
He was compared to Nikolas Lidstrom before breaking into the NHL but didn't really show anything special until the pressure was off and Leafs were out of playoff contention.
IF he can stay out of injury trouble, a huge IF, he has a big future with Toronto; otherwise there's a good chance he will be traded by the deadline this year.
He will be great, let's just hope Toronto has the patience for him.
Malone may be the guy to leave the Pens to free up cap space to sign Malkin. Hossa may be gone as well but I can't see the Leafs making a move for him at this time.
Perry may be lured over to Toronto by Burke promising him centre stage and the chance to be a Toronto Captain.
The way things will shape up: