Is John Tavares on the Toronto Maple Leafs' Mind?

Alan CampbellCorrespondent IJuly 17, 2008

With the 2008-2009 NHL season quickly approaching, most teams this offseason have signed high-end players to their respected teams. 

But what about the Toronto Maple Leafs? What talent have they picked up and what are their long term plans?

The Leafs have signed one player, Niklas Hagman, who has had one good season in the National Hockey League with the Dallas Stars. Will he have a successful campaign similar to the one he had last year? 

It is apparent that the Leafs do not want to sign any player for a long term contract. Is that because there really is no player on the Leafs worth signing long term?

With Mats Sundin enjoying his time off from the NHL, he won't be making a decision soon on whether or not he will return to the Leafs.  So, what is on the Leafs' mind?

Well, last year it was discussed the possibility of signing Oshawa native Jonathan Tavares to a minor league contract with the Toronto Marlies. These notions came from the Leafs' last GM John Ferguson.

Tavares is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft. Tavares said that he would prefer to play a higher level of hockey this season as opposed to playing with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.

Is this why the Leafs haven't signed any big name free agents this offseason?  Is their plan to have a young team? Do they want to have all the players enjoy a first year in the NHL, mold the team together, not make the playoffs, and have a very solid chance of the first round draft pick in 2009? 

This could be a possibility, as it is known that Ron Wilson likes to work with younger player's and help develop them into well rounded players.

Tavares would love to play in Toronto. It's close to home, friends, and family. He would also be playing for a team that he grew up watching.

Tavares has already been compared to players such as Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky, and Steve Yzerman.  Would he be a great fit in Toronto?

Absolutely. With the Leafs only offering Mats Sundin a two year contract, they are planning for Sundin to possibly show Tavares the reigns, so that he can one day—when Sundin is gone—lead the Leafs back to the Stanley Cup Finals.

This is something I am sure that is on the Leafs' mind. They are starting over with a new younger team that I am sure will have many ups and downs this coming season.  I can guarantee the Leafs have something planned for a bright young future with this franchise.