Yes, The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to make the NHL Playoffs for the fifth straight season. But I got a feeling that next season is going to be a total different season for the Blue & White, and yes us Leafs fans say that every year but with the young talent the Leafs had and will have in the near future, gives us fans much optimism for next season. We believe that we are headed in the right direction. And yes, In Burke we trust!
Yes the Toronto Maple Leafs currently do not have a pick in the draft for the first two rounds, but that doesn't necessarily mean they won't have one come draft day. Brian Burke will have a few weeks including draft day to make something happen before the actual draft begins. And the Leafs do have many picks in rounds three to seven. Should Brian Burke acquire a first round draft pick in the 2010 Draft, expect a player like Tomas Kaberle to be involved in the deal, in which we would be seeing him leave the city of Toronto considering the fact that Kaberle is the only player on the Leafs roster that's worth a first rounder, minus Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, & Luke Schenn who are all non-disposable players at this point in time & basically guaranteed that they will be apart of the Leafs future. So, say that Brian Burke does pull off a deal that sees Kaberle leaving and a first rounder coming back our way, what team would that first rounder come from? If I were to place a bet, I'd be guessing the Leafs would be getting a mid first round draft pick in return, which results in teams like St.Louis, Montreal, Anaheim, Dallas, New York (Rangers) all to be in play. Best case scenario, the Leafs get Minnesota's ninth pick in the first round. Just using my imagination though, with the ninth pick in the first round, the fingers would probably be pointing towards center-men Alex Burmistrov, or defense-men Derek Forbort but I don't see the Leafs being interested in another defense-men, or even Mikeal Granlund. But note that I am just speaking a scene in where Brian Burke would have to acquire this first round pick from teams that are in the top ten position to pick. If not a first rounder, trading away, just at the top of my head, Tomas Kaberle & Christian Hanson to a mid-ranked team for a top 6 forward and a second round draft pick. Again though, these are just scenarios that might but then again might not happen. But considering the fact that the Leafs are pick-less (yes I just said pick-less) in the first two rounds, you have to be coming up with at-least some ideas.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will partly depend on the Free Agency this summer. We all know who the big names are. Obviously, the most popular names being heard of are Patrick Marleau, Tomas Plekanec, Evgeni Nabokov, Carey Price, and of-course, Ilya Kovalchuk. Seeing that the Leafs recently locked up goaltender Jonas Gustavsson for the next two years, the Leafs will obviously not be in the looking for a goaltender. So take out Nabokov, Price, Turco, Emery, Ellis and all the goalies. Ilya Kovalchuk is asking for way to much and Brian Burke has already expressed that he is not interested in acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk. I don't think any team will considering the amount of cash he wants. Same goes with Patrick Marleau, now Marleau will probably not ask as much as Kovalchuk is, however, his asking price will still most likely be very high, and for an aging player like Marleau, he does not fit into the Maple Leafs equation. Tomas Plekanec is a possibility. Leaf fans across the globe continually express the fact that the Leafs need a play-maker to play with Phil Kessel. Yes, the Leafs do need that. And Yes, Plekanec does fill that void, but why spend money on him when the Leafs have Tyler Bozak who has been working good, actually great with Phil Kessel over the season, mostly the second half of that season. What the Leafs should be interested in getting this off-season, are prime third-second line players to add the much needed depth to the offense. Yes, I'm looking at you David Clarkson & Colby Armstrong. If there is an exact what us Leaf fans like to call a 'Brian Burke' type of player, look no further then David Clarkson & Colby Armstrong. Two both hard working, hard nosed gritty players that could fill roster spaces on the third line, and possibly second line.
This may be the most important part of the Leafs plan in the off-season. Everyone knows what they are in need of, that's a couple of top six forwards. They have solid goal-tending (finally), Burke has said many times he does not want to move the defense, so offense is their only major option where they can do some shifting. Granted the fact that a couple of defense-men might have to be shipped out in order to bring more forwards, I think would be ok seeing that the Leafs are over-loaded in defense-men. The only D-men I can think of that can be moved are Jeff Finger, Mike Van Ryn, Garnett Exelby & yes, Tomas Kaberle. There were rumors that Brian Burke is interested in Bobby Ryan from the Anaheim Ducks. Other Rumors point towards Patrick Sharp OR Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Black-hawks since the Windy City is currently running into cap issues. But obviously, in order to land Sharp or Versteeg or Ryan, the Leafs would essentially have to move Tomas Kaberle, likely a young forward like Christian Hanson, John Mitchell, or Mikhail Grabovski and then some. When I say 'and then some' I mean players that just level out the trade. Also, a few rumors that I heard would be indications towards Staal! No, not Eric, but Jordan. I could settle with Jordan Staal. Again, the Leafs would have to give up a-lot in order to pick up a player like Jordan Staal.
If it's one thing the Leafs have, it's youth & prospects. The Toronto Maple Leafs are loaded with the young guns, I mean, they have: Nazem Kadri, Jerry D'Amigo, Phillippe Paradis, Jesse Blacker, Kenny Ryan, Carl Gunnarsson, Patrick Stefanovich, Chris DiDomenico, Keith Aulie, & the list goes on and on. I think that down the line, in the future, these group of players will be the core of the Leafs franchise but for next season, I can only see Nazem Kadri actually playing in the NHL. I can also see Jesse Blacker or Keith Aulie play if Kaberle gets traded away. However, the Leafs are stacked with young talent so, just mark my words, the Leafs will be a force to be reckon with down the stretch.