It has been eight months since I wrote last, so I thought I would return with my favorite past time, predictions.
Yes, my predictions can sometimes be farfetched and, in some cases, just down right dumb, but they're always fun. It also gives the chance for others to voice their ideas, which is really what this site is about.
It's become something of a ritual to dream up ideas of how our beloved Leafs could somehow improve on yet another crushing season, so why stop now.
Before I get started, just let me say I in no way fancy myself an expert, I simply share my ideas of what I would try to accomplish as GM of the Leafs.
Ah, yes another Kaberle trade scenario.
Well the benefit to Toronto is obvious in this trade —they get a more-than-capable first-line center who plays a "Burke" style.
Now, why would the Penguins do this?
Simple—there is no mistaking Sergei Gonchar is the Penguins puck mover. The trouble is that the majority of the Penguins are young. Gonchar not so much. At 36, Gonchar is coming ever so near to the end of his career. The Pens must ask themselves if they want to re-sign Gonchar to a one- or two-year deal, or bring in a younger version of Sergei in Kaberle (32).
The ability to give up Staal is there. Pittsburgh has two of the elite centers in all of hockey with Crosby and Malkin. In Mitchell, Pittsburgh gets a young player who has shown flashes of potential, while in Ryan, they get a decent prospect who could develop into anything from a third- to second-line winger.
The Rights to Dan Hamhuis
This trade would have to be done on Draft Day to give Burke the time to sway Hamhuis into signing with Toronto, but it could be done.
Grabovski is expendable because of the log jam of small centers in Toronto. In Nashville, he could look nice beside Martin Erat. Offense is Nashville's number one concern, as they have enough defensive prospects to start a small country. If this deal were to happen, the backend in Toronto would start to become something of a force.
Buffalo's defense has really been a problem, and Beauchemin could add some much needed reliability. Beauchemin's plus/minus is deceiving because he is given the job of shutting down teams' top players and does do a pretty good job of it.
As for Stafford he has never really lived up to his potential but still could become an effective third/second-line winger.
As for re-signing players, I say you let all the Leafs UFA's walk. That includes Primeau, Wallin, Exelby, Van Ryn, Frogren, and Lundmark. As for the RFA's, sign the two remaining. Sign Hanson to a reasonable deal (likely under $1 million) and Kulemin to something in the range of $2.75-$3 million (remember the KHL is still an option for Kulemin). Jeff Finger should also be made the highest paid player ever to play in the AHL.
When July 1 rolls around, I would like to see the Leafs pursue Nashville's Jordin Tootoo and Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov. In my rough estimations, the Leafs should be able to afford this (of course, math never was my strong suit).
In the end, the 2010/2011 Leafs would look something like this: