The Toronto Maple Leafs' first game of the regular season is this week. Thursday, October 7, the Leafs host historic rival, the Montreal Canadians.
For the Leafs this game couldn't be more important. Last year, the Leafs came out of the gates with a lot to prove. New offseason additions Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin were eager to prove their worth.Goaltender Vesa Toskala was given the confidence of both his coach and general manager, who both thought it was his season to establish himself.
After a great game against the Canadians, the Leafs came up short. How the rest of the season went is history.
To avoid another repeat of last season's start the Leafs have made significant changes to their roster.This season the Leafs are looking to avoid a similar fate and the addition of one of these three players to the revamped roster would ensure they don't repeat last year's horrendous start.
Michael Grabner was selected in the first round, 14th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Grabner was picked by the Vancouver Canucks just one spot after the Leafs selected Jiri Tlusty.
Grabner is only 22 years old, and was recently acquired by the Florida Panthers via trade with the Canucks during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
After a bad preseason, Grabner was waived by the Panthers opening the gifted winger to the other 29 teams in the league. Grabner is an astounding skater with great hands and offensive instincts. If given the right opportunity, Grabner could potentially put up 40-50 points in the NHL this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are presented the opportunity to pick up a former first-rounder, who still has plenty of potential.
The cost? Nothing.
A European trio of Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski and Michael Grabner could be the skilled support scoring line the Leafs need to complement both the top-line and the bottom-six grinders.
And if things don't work out, they can waive him with no-harm done.
Another player who could significantly benefit the Toronto Maple Leafs is veteran Brendan Morrison.
Coming off a 42-point season while finishing plus-23, Morrison has a lot to offer the Leafs. That's not to mention the incredible discount the Leafs would most likely receive given his recent release by the Vancouver Canucks.
Morrison would bring a veteran presence at center, something the Leafs are sorely lacking. Even at a third-line role, Morrison is capable of putting up 40 points and helping to shore up any offensive woes the Leafs may have.
A low-risk, high-reward signing, Morrison could be exactly what the Leafs need up the middle.
After signing Ilya the "$100 Million Man" Kovalchuk this past summer, the New Jersey Devils are in a little bit of cap trouble.
According to reports, the Devil's captain is on the trading block in an effort to clear enough cap space to start the season. If Langenbrunner is dealt, the cost of the Kovalchuk signing continues to climb. Will Kovy be worth it? Who knows?
What is known is that Leafs GM Brian Burke loves Langenbrunner's style. Burke chose the rugged veteran to lead Team USA in the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and lead he did. Finishing second only to the Canadians, Langenbrunner brings a veteran presence that cannot be ignored.
With an injury to Bryce Salvador preventing the Devil's ability to waive him, Devil's GM Lou Lamoriello is in a tight spot. With other teams smelling blood, Lamoriello may choose to deal with the devil he knows in Brian Burke, working out a deal that could work for both teams.
The most costly acquisition, but also one that could be a huge advantage if the Leafs manage to squeeze into the playoffs.
Ultimately, the Leafs may choose to do nothing at all. The Leafs may feel that Grabner isn't ready or Langenbrunner is too costly. According to TSN's Bob Mackenzie, the Leafs don't have much interest in Morrison maybe he is just too old.
It wouldn't be surprising if the Leafs stood pat during the rush of NHL talent entering the waiver wire. Players such as Darcy Hordichuk, Shane O'brien and more too follow, may simply not interest Burke at this time.
If Burke is going to make any changes, expect them to happen before the first game of the season. If Burke does pass on any potential wire candidates, expect the Leafs to stand pat in terms of trades and acquisitions until the new year.
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