Snagging a young and talented Kris Versteeg from an over-burdened yet Cup-winning Hawks team, together with Bill Sweatt, a speedy player groomed well in the US collegiate ranks, our man of the day Brian Burke is ready now to acquire the main prize, an uber top scoring forward, and try his best along the way to not have any cash in the kitty. Apparently he has $17 mil in cap space to do his magic.
We've truly debated the big nut, Ilya Kovalchuk, recently and assuming Kulemin will sign in the $2.5 mil range, I'm thinking Bobby Ryan is really looking good, as well as Colby Armstrong. But there are certainly some decent trade options to consider, given Burke's willingness to let go one of our undisputed "young hopefuls" in Viktor Stalberg... before we watched his very disappointing season unravel last year.
So, here we are a year later, and there have been changes. Mike Brown is on the team. Under coach Allaire, The Leafs' goalie tandem is firm, with The Monster and Giggy back stopping. Top pick Kadri is coming up, so it seems likeable John Mitchell's days are numbered - though it'd be to me disappointing if the team loses Phil Oreskovic, given the investment in his talents over the years.
Two other Scandanavian hopefuls, Rickard Wallin and Jonas Frogren, are now gone as well. But, speaking of busts, on defense, it'll be interesting to see if Burke can package Jeff Finger to make room for Keith Aulie, notwithstanding a decision to send Karberle over to Boston in exchange for Savard - a move I thought would've happened last year. I liked Jimmy Hayes, but he's gone too.
Trade-wise, James Neal is a name popping up, and Travis Zajac. Add Steve Begin, Raffi Torres, Arron Asham and Scott Walker to name a few UFAs available upfront. As well, Burke is likely dangling Schenn, given the luxury of depth on blue line with the arrival and ascendancy of Phaneuf, who might pair up with Dan Hamhuis, if there's another deal to be done with Pittsburgh.
July 1 is finally here, and I'm looking forward to the touted free agents about to don the Blue and White and take us to The Cup, finally.
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