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Can Rick Nash Fill Mats Sundin's Skates for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Alan CampbellCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2008

One of the biggest questions right now on Leafs fans' minds is whether or not Captain Mats Sundin returns next year to play with the Blue and White. 

Sundin has stated that he would love to retire a Maple Leaf—but teams like the Canucks are offering him one the most lucrative salaries in the league. What will be his decision for this this upcoming year? 

Vancouver has mentioned that if Sundin plays for the Canucks, he will almost certainly be wearing the "C." And with the 2010 Olympics just around the corner, Vancouver has advised the Swedish Captain that he could play on his home ice for the 2010 Olympics, defending his country's gold medal.  Such an opportunity only comes around once, and could be a huge factor for the Swede.

But if Sundin does decide to play in Vancouver, what is left for the Leafs? 

With Jaromir Jagr signing over in the Russian Super League, and all remaining big-name players already signed with teams, what will the Toronto Maple Leafs do with the cash they would have paid Sundin?

One possibility is a trade.  Look for the Leafs possibly going after Rick Nash of the Columbus Blue Jackets. 

It has been rumoured around Columbus that the Canadian native is not happy were he is playing at the moment, and would like to play elsewhere.  But for a player of his stature, Toronto would have to sacrifice at least two top forwards and a draft pick, plus cash.

Rick Nash would be a great fit in Toronto, but what two forwards would Toronto trade to have Nash on the team?

I could see Toronto getting rid of forwards Alexei Ponikarovsky and Alex Steen—two respected players in their own rights—a second-round draft pick, and, of course, money.

Its is obvious that Toronto is rebuilding, but you have to wonder if without Sundin, the Leafs will have some serious troubles this year putting the puck in the net.

Toronto hasn't really made any big moves this offseason, and I think that they may be relying too much on having Sundin return.  But why would he?  

The media has always criticised him on his play and leadership in the locker room, so why would he want to put himself in a situation of having the media and fans ask the same old question—"Will Mats lead the team to the Cup this year?"

A few more months and we will know the outcome of Mats Sundin's hockey future. But until then, don't hold your breath on this guy playing with the Blue and White again.  I expect him to play elsewhere—simply for the peace of mind.

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