So as we near the end of the 2009 - 2010 NHL season, the Leafs start to close out another lost year. But all is not doom and gloom. In the past season the Leafs have seen a major change in the guard.
Old players from past regimes have been sent packing. New players have been brought in. The younger generation has been handed the keys to the kingdom and the fans have been shown that the youth movement they have wanted for so long, is finally here.
The core is being assembled and the two main pieces are already here. Dion Phaneuf was brought in and the act of giving him the A just this past week show that he has a serious spot on this team. He will be the crux of the teams defense with Schenn, Gunnarson, Komisarek and either Beauchemin or Kaberle (more on that later).
The second main piece, Phil Kessel is a smaller part to the forward puzzle. While he will never be the forward that a team builds around, he provides the vital sniper role that is essential for any teams ability to score. Just ask the Bruins how they are doing without a natural sniper playing for them. Through a little Stalberg, Bozak, Caputi, and Kulemin in there and the forward core is talented. Although this core possesses talent (and PK ability of Kulemin and Sjostrom) it lacks the top line talent to make it dangerous to other teams.
That is where Burkes work lies next. With a loaded defense, a fixed goaltending problem (for now. its far more solid that it was before the Giguere trade), forwards become the next step in the massive rebuild that began just two years ago.
And so without further ado, I present 5 players that the Leaf should target.