Toronto Maple Leafs: Players That the Leafs Need

Bleacher ReportAnalyst IApril 18, 2010

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 26:  Patrick Marleau #11 of Canada celebrates with his team mate Dany Heatley #15 of Canada after Marleau scored during the ice hockey men's semifinal game between the Canada and Slovakia on day 15 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 26, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada.  (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

With one of the longest seasons in recent memory finally over for the Leafs, the question now begs, what is next for the blue and white?

Most fans would be quick to jump onto the seemingly obvious things like trading Tomas Kaberle or maybe the most obvious of all, get a first round draft pick for this year's draft, let alone next.

If the Leafs were to trade Tomas Kaberle, again, this is obvious, they would need to get a top six forward, or maybe even a top line centre, to play with Phil Kessel and help a team that only scored 2.56 goals per game last season, 25th in the entire NHL.

Someone that would help the Leafs in that regard, that isn't overly expensive and doesn't have a ridiculous contract, is Patrick Marleau. Marleau was 14th in the league in points, including 44 goals in the regular season. He would be a great addition to play with Phil Kessel for the time being. Also, he is only 30. Therefore he could still have many great seasons for the Leafs and be a good leader.

Of course, wether the Leafs do acquire the former San Jose captain or not is also up to the Sharks. 

To get someone like Patrick Marleau, the Leafs would need to give up more than just Kaberle. Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Garnet Exelby, Jeff Finger, and Rickard Wallin are all possible candidates to get traded out of town this off-season and could be part of a much larger deal than most people think.

However, small acquisitions like Fredrick Sjostrom and Luca Caputi can be just as effective.

Sjostrom made a massive impact on the Leafs' penalty killing. While it still remained last in the league, it went from floating around 60 percent to 74.6 percent. Luca Caputi meanwhile, brings a young big body presence to the Leafs who can fight off players and go hard to the net.

It is these kinds of players who the Leafs need to look at getting during the off-season. Players who do all the little things, that when put together make one big thing that make a team win.

When I first think of these kinds of players I think of people like Ryan Kesler or David Backes. Unfortunately, that would only happen in a dream. Something more likely to happen would be the Leafs signing an unrestricted free agent in the off-season, or trading for a third line type player.

You may have noticed that both of those players, Kesler and Backes, are both "Brian Burke type players." They play with grit, determination, are not afraid to back down and can score just as easily.

Maybe a better possibility of the Leafs getting a player like Kesler or Backes would be young David Clarkson. Clarkson is just 23 and will be a free agent after this season, and is exactly the type of player that Brian Burke is looking for.

It is already clear that the Maple Leafs do not need another defenseman to work the point on the power play. They already have the great passing of Tomas Kaberle, and the booming shots of Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin, but do they need a forward to work the blue line?

Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuck are all used to playing up high on the man advantage, but you do not need to be as good a player as those three to do it.

For example, Tim Connolly in Buffalo can often be found doing it, and is very productive. Seven of his 17 goals were scored on the power play. Much like Kesler, Backes and Clarkson, he can also do a good job killing penalties.

Last season the Leafs were in the bottom of the league when it came to their penalty killing, and their power play. It will be interesting to find out how Brian Burke attempts to fix the Leafs in the off-season, and get them back into the playoffs.


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