The forward corps as it stands looks as follows:
Centers: Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, Tim Brent, Mike Zigomais, John Mitchell
Top Six Wingers: Phil Kessel, Kris Versteeg, Nikolai Kulemin, Clarke McArthur
Bottom Six Wingers: Colby Armstrong, Freddy Sjostrom, Colton Orr, Mike Brown
The core that Burke is building up front is quickly becoming apparent.
The most obvious forward that is here to stay is Phil Kessel. Blessed with preternatural scoring talent, Kessel is the forward that Burke is building the forwards around. Kessel, for the time being and likely for the next few years, is the Leafs' top right wing. That much is set in stone.
The next forward that makes up the core is Tyler Bozak. Whether he vaults himself into the top center position permanently or becomes the teams second-line center, Bozak is here to stay. While many will point to him going undrafted as a sign of his worthlessness (which is silly, the best right wing in the game today, Martin St. Louis, went undrafted), Bozak has talent. Slick hands, great offensive sight, decent defensive game and great speed, Bozak is a top-six talent in the making.
Kris Versteeg, a new addition, is the next player. Many have debated him being a top-six player, but he has the skill to be one. Whether that is as a first-liner or second-liner is still to be decided, but his phenomenal two-way game and chemistry with Bozak and Kessel make him a lock to stay for the time being.
Nikolai Kulemin is another player who is not going anywhere any time soon. With good size, great two-way play, nice hands (at times) and just sublime board work, Kulemin has many believing that he is close to putting it all together and joining the ranks of the league's elite power forwards. Regardless, his hard work and the Leafs' lack of size up front make him a lock on the top six for the future.
Colby Armstrong and Colton Orr round out the forwards, filling the core spots on the Leafs' forward roster. Now, "core" is used loosely as most people use core as a word to describe a team's best players. However, I will use core to describe players who will make up the Leafs roster for the future. Both players fit the Burkian model and are here to stay after signing longer contracts in the past two offseasons.
That leaves several players in roster flux. Freddy Sjostrom, Clarke MacArthur, John Mitchell, Mike Brown, Mikhail Grabovksi, Tim Brent and Mike Zigomais all are left out, and in the coming slides, I will explain why.