In the last couple days the Toronto Maple Leafs have made some big moves. They have completely shaked up their core of forwards by trading away Stajan, Hagman, Blake, Mayers and others to the Flames and Ducks.
In return for the many players Toronto has traded, they have acquired veteran goalie J.S. Gigure as well as young defensemen Dion Phaneuf. Despite both players struggling with their previous teams I feel that they both have done well in the past and will do so again in Toronto.
But now where do the leafs go from here? They have arguably the worst offense in the Eastern Confrence with one legitamate top six forward in Kessel. General Manager Brian Burke is always saying how he believes in a "top six, bottom six team," which celarly isn't the case right now.
I believe before trade deadline Burke will make one or two more big trades. He will likely trade Kaberle for a top line forward, a first round pick or maybe even both. Don't count Jeff Finger out either as the Leafs have lots of depth in their defense and can afford to trade some of that away.
They will also add to their lack of depth in forward by drafting forwards in the 2010 draft. However if they plan on getting any legitamate forwards they must either trade for draft picks or test out free-agency as their first-round pick belongs to Boston.
Up coming free-agents include Ray Whitney and Ilya Kovalchuck among others. I highly doubt that Toronto will get either of these players though, as Kovalchuck is far too expensive for Burke and Whitney will likely be going to a contender as he looks for another cup.
Overall this rebuilding process will be long and difficult for the leafs. I predict that they will begin to be in the playoff mix in 2-3 years and become a contender for the cup in 5 years minimum. Unless the Leafs draft some good young forwards and even out the talent, as apposed to the offensive-lacking team they are now, I see a dark and losing future for the leafs.
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