Toronto Maple Leafs: Savard? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Savard

Mark MakuchCorrespondent IJune 29, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - MAY 12: Marc Svaard #91 of the Boston Bruins reaches out for the puck against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at the Wachovia Center on May 12, 2010 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Bruins 2-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As much as Brian Burke has talked about "getting better now" rather than improving slowly though the draft, the Leafs still need time. They are not going to seriously challenge this coming year, with Marc Savard or without him. And if you look at a shortened two to three year window, it's clear that Savard will only hinder the Leafs, not improve their chances. Here's why.

Savard has peaked. He's not getting any better. If anything, he's about to begin the long journey of diminishing points, increasing frailty, and a huge burden on a team's cap space. But he'll continue to demand minutes—big minutes—that should be going to the likes of Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri.

And that's point two. Bozak and Kadri have to be given huge amounts of ice time to develop their NHL game.

Bozak was showing huge potential by the end of last year. Kadri may follow the same trajectory. But the only way to find out is to let them play. And play. And play. Savard will only limit their ice time and slow down that progress. Bozak and Kadri are not bottom six centres and playing them there will be disastrous for their potential.

Get better faster? Let the kids play more. That's the only way. Get a scoring winger. Beef up the bottom six. Leave those two kids alone with their ice time. In two years, they have the potential to be point per game stars. Three years from now, that's when the serious run for the Cup will happen.

Taking on Savard may prove too juicy a prospect for Burke, especially if it's for a "soft deal" rather than Tomas Kaberle. I certainly hope he lets a glut of centres and a shite contract for a one-hit-away-from-retirement veteran be Peter Chiarelli's problem. In a few days we'll know.

I, for one, don't think we need Savard messing with Bozak and Kadri's development. Burke, if he's got his wits about him, will think the same.