Toronto Maple Leafs: Possible Fits at Centre From Around The League

Louis PisanoAnalyst ISeptember 28, 2010

Brendan Morrison could be the perfect fit for Toronto.
Brendan Morrison could be the perfect fit for Toronto.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

I was reading through the many Leafs forums that I scour for angles and thoughts on our beloved Buds and I came across a list posted by a guy named Colledgedude84. Credit given where credit is due.

I had to agree, after scanning these players that some caught my eye, and some of these guys could be good possibilities for that second/third/fourth-line centre Toronto is in desperate need of.

Some of these guys are most likely not available nor will be on waivers but there are possibilities that fit for Toronto. I figured I would go through this Collegedude84’s list to see where it takes me, here’s my brief evaluation of it:

Anaheim-Todd Marchant (37 5’10 179lbs.): Though a smaller center, he has great wheels, good face-off ability and would bring a veteran presence. Could be high on the list.

Anaheim- Kyle Chipchura (24 6’2" 206lbs.): Big, young guy who could be developed fits Brian Burke’s mould, somewhat. Possibility?

Anaheim- Ryan Carter (27 6’2’ 200lbs.): He has the size Burke likes and some NHL experience. He’s with the Ducks and he’s American so he seems like a guy Burke might look at. Way outside chance.

Boston- Trent Whitfield (33 5’11" 209lbs.): Career minor leaguer with a couple looks at the NHL level, this would be a surprise. Doubtful.

Colorado- Ben Walter (26 6’1 190lbs.): A few how-do-ya-do’s with Bos, NYI, and Devils. He’s had some good numbers at the AHL level but has never had a real good chance with an NHL team. Obviously off the charts and he’s listed in Colorado’s farm system. Outside chance.

Detroit- Ilari Filppula (28 5’11" 191lbs.): Yes, he’s the older brother of Valtteri Filppula (26) and has played his played his whole career in Finland. Perhaps not the right guy because of the change over from the European style of hockey but we know he comes from good stock. Your guess is as good as mine, doubtful.

Edmonton- Colin Fraser (25 6’1" 193lbs.): Though picked up in a trade for a sixth round pick, Edm might not have room for this guy with all the youth coming in. He could be a good fit for Toronto with two full years of NHL experience (four over all) with Chicago, and at only 25 years old he still has room to grow. Possible.

Los Angeles- Jarret Stoll (28 6’1" 210lbs.): He’s a proven NHLer and would be a great addition for the Leafs. Would be high on my list of guys out of these players to add to the Leafs. Whether he comes available or not is another question after signing a four year contract.

Minnesota- James Shepard (22 6’2" 210lbs.): Young, first-round pick, ninth overall in 2006, he hasn’t put up numbers anywhere near his junior totals in his three full years with the Wild and has one year left on his contract before he becomes an RFA. He seems to have some defensive liability attached having been a –14 in both of the last two seasons. Worth a look if Burke can pry him away from Minny cheap. Doubtful.

Minnesota- Pierre-Marc Bouchard (26 5’10" 173lbs.): Another first rounder with good NHL numbers though has concussion issues and may be damaged goods, smallish, good play maker. Highly doubtful.

Montreal- Ben Maxwell (22 6’1" 195lbs.): He’s played a few games up with the big club and has good numbers with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs and I doubt Montreal would be looking to move this guy, but stranger things have happened. Highly doubtful.

Nashville- Cal O’Reilly (23 6’0" 187lbs.): A good play-maker with little NHL experience and a year left on his contract before becoming a RFA. Whether he comes available or not isn’t really the question I doubt he fits that third/fourth line role but could be a far off the charts look. Doubtful

New Jersey- Rod Pelley (26 5’11" 195lbs.): With 130 NHL games he has some experience but the Devils are thin up the middle and even though he doesn’t look like much I’d be betting NJ hangs on to him, not that the Leafs would really even look at this guy. Doesn’t fit—no chance!

New York (Rangers)- Brian Boyle (25 6’6" 244lbs.): The Rangers have a plethora of center’s in the fold, Boyle has the size that Burke covets though this guys numbers don’t scream out. Still a first rounder from 2003, he played 71 games last year with the Rangers and was minus six, one more year before he’s an RFA. Hmmm, perhaps a slight chance only because of his size.

Ottawa- Zack Smith (22 6’2" 210lbs.): We saw this kid play against Toronto in the preseason and he brings a lot of energy. He was a third round pick out of the 2008 draft and has all the qualities Burke would be looking for but how Toronto would get a hold of him is a good question. I highly doubt Ottawa is going to let this scrappy kid go anywhere.

Ottawa- Jesse Winchester (26 6’1" 206lbs.): With a couple years under his belt and a couple years left on his 750k a year contract before he becomes a UFA, along with the centre position pretty well sewn up in Ottawa, he could be a real possibility. He’s good defensively and is a good size with some grit. Likely candidate the Leafs are keeping an eye on.

Phoenix- Kyle Wellwood: Not betting on it! In fact I’d be more than happy to bet against it, any takers?

Phoenix- Andrew Ebbett (27 5’9" 174): Too small not enough experience and not going to happen. No chance! But thanks for the guess Collegedude84! This is what happens when you look at other's lists. NEXT!

Pittsburgh- Mark Letestu (25 5’11" 195lbs.): With only 10 NHL games under the belt though with good numbers in the AHL last year and just on the verge of being too small I can’t see this guy in a Leafs uniform. Thanks, but no thanks!

St. Louis- T.J. Hensick (24 5’10" 185lbs.): Taken in the third round in 2005 by Colorado, Hensick has some NHL experience (99 total games with Col), he may be on the smallish side but has had some good numbers down in the AHL with the Lake Erie Monsters. Outside chance, could be on the radar.

San Jose- Scott Nichol (35 5’9" 180lbs.): A veteran guy who could bring some depth to any team, but he just doesn’t fit with what is going on in Toronto, I just can’t see it happening.

Tampa Bay- Paul Szczechura (24 5’10" 186lbs.): This guy Collegedude84 is turning out to be more like a CollegeDUD! Again too small no exp and not going to happen!

Vancouver- Brendan Morrison (34 5’11" 181lbs.): Finally a guy who is really worth a look. Veteran guy, knows what is expected, produces year in and year out, nothing outstanding, but solid. I am sure he's on the top of the list for a few teams looking for a centre. Vancouver is giving him a look but as soon as his name hits the waiver wire, since Van is pretty solid up the middle, Morrison’s phone will be ringing off the hook I’d bet. Best looking guy out there! Go get’em Burkey!

Vancouver- Rick Rypien (26 5’11" 190lbs): Another guy who is on the radar for teams looking for a middleman and who could be on the outs with Vancouver having only one year left at just over 500k and with 110 NHL games he’s still young. He certainly could be getting a few calls whether one from Burke or not is questionable. Outside chance.

Washington- Keith Aucoin (31 5’9" 162lbs???): Too small too old too…NOOOooooo. 162 lbs? No chance. Crack addiction maybe? (jk) Sorry Keith just playin B!

Well after all that crap and not much substance only a few guys leap off the page aside from the young prospects that I am sure Burke would love to get his hands on but are all mostly doubtful.


Brendan Morrison from Vancouver, Todd Marchant and Kyle Chipcura both from Anaheim, two teams Burke has strong ties too, could end up in a Leafs uniform centering the third/fourth lines or perhaps the second line if Mikhail Grabovski stumbles.

On an outside chance that Burke can swing something I could see high interest in Colin Fraser, Jarrett Stoll, and perhaps Jesse Winchester, but doubtful Ottawa would let him go to a division rival.

Collegedude84 at the end had a couple guys worth a look, but in general he’s still CollegeDUD in my book!

Hopefully Toronto can find someone to fill the center position until Nazem Kadri is ready to fill the role, it was his for the taking coming in to training camp and it ended up being his for the losing. He’ll develop under the watchful eye of Mr. Burke and company and I think the Leafs' future is better for it!


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