Outside of the ongoing Tomas Kaberle trade rumors and Dion Phaneuf being named the 18th captain in Toronto Maple Leafs' franchise history, the news is Toronto's struggle to re-sign RFA Nikolai Kulemin.
While Kulemin did post a career high 36 points playing on the Leafs' first line, Kulemin's price range is way out of hand, and while some Toronto fans want him re-signed, they do not understand that if the Leafs do re-sign Kulemin, then they will have no money for a real winger in this year's free agent class.
I am not saying Kulemin is a bad winger, but he is only 23 years old and has not proven himself as a future number one winger in Toronto.
With that being said, Burke can deal Kulemin along with Tomas Kaberle at the Draft, as he will try to do anything in his power to add one or more top-60 selection.
Now, to the Leafs' Draft Preview:
NHL TEAM NEEDS : First-line Forward, Top-Nine Forwards with Size
Brian needs to acquire a top-six forward in a deal that has Kaberle, and if necessary, Kulemin. The free agency pool of top-six players is thin. Really thin. So Burke needs to pull this off.
As many others have written, the Leafs should have no problem adding that necessary muscle in players such as Colby Armstrong, Raffi Torres, and maybe even Derek Boogaard.
Organizational Strengths: defensive depth, wing depth, goaltending depth
The Leafs are incredibly deep in goaltenders with incumbents J-S Giguere and Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson, they added Jussi Rynnas and Ben Scrivens, and still have prospect James Reimer playing in the AHL with the Marlies.
Toronto has many defensive prospects. After trading for Kieth Aulie, they added some more FA's in Simon Gysbers and adding an Olympian from Germany in the name of Korbinian Holzer. Don't forget about Luca Caputi and Brayden Irwin adding wing depth along with likely NHL starter next year Nazem Kadri.
Draft Needs : Skilled Forward Prospects, Natural Center prospects, Offensive Defender
With the Leafs without a pick from now until the 3rd round and lack of blue-chip prospects, it's unlikely that Toronto will get both.
With Kaberle almost certainly being dealt, Toronto will need to fill that void. Toronto, as I said earlier, has huge defensive depth of shut-down defenders, but none look like future 40-plus point scorers.
With a historic franchise of elite offensive defencemen including Babe Pratt, Kaberle, and of course Borje Salming and Ian Turnbull, Toronto will be looking for that next Kaberle.
Draft Outlook and Tendencies
Burke has made it clear since arriving in Toronto that he wants his team to be tough, fast and tenacious. I don't think he's going to change that mindset anytime soon. Since the 2004-05 lockout Burke has only selected three European players and no player under 5’11 in the 36 selections he’s had between the Anaheim Ducks and Maple Leafs.
Expect there to be a balance of Americans selected by Burke.
Can Burke acquire that first or second round draft pick? Can he manage to deal Kaberle or re-sign Kulemin or will he have to deal him? Surely, these will all be questions answered by June 25.
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