NHL Free Agents 2010: Brian Burke's Options as Free Agency Nears

Peter BojarinovAnalyst IJune 30, 2010

MONTREAL, QC - JUNE 27:  Kenny Ryan speaks to General Manager Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization after he was drafted by the Leafs in the second round during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft at the Bell Centre on June 27, 2009 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

As free-agency day nears, Brian Burke has many options on his plate.

When hockey fans gather and think of all the possibilities in the summer, they usually only think of the usual options: free agents.

Look for Burke to make one or two interesting moves around the start of free agency that can occur.

In my opinion, these are moves that are very intriguing.


Nikolai Kulemin

As much as I love Nikolai Kulemin, why not let a team make an offer sheet on him. If it’s a bit too high the Leafs will get the picks they need for the next draft that they don’t currently have.

If not, sign him—he’s the best all around player the Leafs have had in years.


Grabovski for Savard

Grabovski for Savard, rumours have been swirling for days now. Will it happen or not? Might have to wait till around July 4 to see if it does.

In my view, Beauchemin is overrated; hopefully he can be a part of the trade to seal the deal.


Bring in Valuable Role Players, with Great Experience

John Madden fits in perfectly, he’d be great for the third line center, can do everything you need a strong bottom six player to do, and can pitch in as a top six in case of injuries.

Then there’s Willie Mitchell, a good piece of the puzzle as top four d-man—great defensive player for a team who really needs it.

Both would be great in the dressing room, add to the leadership where the Leafs currently lack, and are lower in salary with Madden’s age and Mitchell’s injury riddled past season.


Free up Salary

Lastly, if the Leafs put Finger’s salary in the minors, and move out Beauchemin and Grabovski while adding Savard, Mitchell, and Madden, it would still leave plenty of room to add a strong offensive player.

I hope the Leafs don’t bite on Kovalchuk, or Frolov, as they’re both only capable of scoring, and nothing less. Whatever they’ll receive would be overpayment.

Look for Kovalchuk to receive over $9 million and Frolov roughly $5 million.

Either would be fine in the blue and white but both are at least $1.5 million more then I would want to use the salary cap on.

So the plan would be to fill in a top six role player with a younger player (like Stalberg), which is fine with me.

The other option is to fill it with an older player for a season or two. Why not add a Kariya, or Demitra for just under $4 million for a season, or a underrated Scott Walker or Fedotenko for $1.8 million per year for two seasons?

There’s always still Marek Svatos for about $2.5 million. Or maybe even a trade for an RFA (like Wheeler or Ryan?) These are all great options.

All in all, Leaf fans will be eager to hear what their team has done, and don't be surprised if you don't see many free agents signed.

If anything, at least stay tuned to see who will win the Kovalchuk sweepstakes.