2011 NHL Offseason: The Group of Top-Line Center Options for the Maple Leafs

Jeff LangridgeCorrespondent IIIMay 25, 2011

2011 NHL Offseason: The Group of Top-Line Center Options for the Maple Leafs

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02:  Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    When Mats Sundin played for the Toronto Maple Leafs, the biggest problem they faced was finding a winger for him. For the last few two seasons, that problem has been reversed. Now it's finding a center-man for Phil Kessel.

    There has been no shortage of rumors of players the Leafs might be looking at, from pending free agent Brad Richards to trade options like Paul Stastny. That's as far as it's gone so far, only rumors.

    Undeniably, the Leafs need to acquire a No. 1 center this offseason, be it from free agency or trade. Here is a look at what the options the Leafs have at center this offseason.

Brad Richards, Dallas Stars

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 02:  Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on April 2, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Brad Richards has been rumored to be coming to Toronto since this past season began. We all sat through trade deadline day waiting to hear the announcement that Brad Richards had been traded. It never happened.

    The question is, will it happen on July 1st? There has been constant talk that Richards doesn't want to play in Toronto. Well, if he doesn't, he passes up the shot to be a leader of a team who just might be contending by the end of his contract, and anyone who wants to comment on how crazy I am for saying that, remember that he will be signing a deal that's at least six or seven years long.

    2010-11 Stats: 72 games played, 28 goals, 49 assists, 77 points

    What will it cost the Leafs: About $7 million or $8 million a year for the length of the contract

Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche

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    GLENDALE, AZ - APRIL 01:  Paul Stastny #26 of the Colorado Avalanche awaits a face off during the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on April 1, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.  The Avalanche defeated the Coyotes 4-3 in an overtime shoot
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The new favorite target for Leaf fans, there have been plenty of articles on this site trying to find a way to trade for Paul Stastny. Stastny is a player who would fit in the Leafs current rebuild, as he is the perfect age to be a young leader for a young team.

    If Stastny, and most of the rest of the players on this list, were to become a Leaf, a trade would most likely happen on draft day. I suspect any deal for Stastny could be part of a bigger deal where we wouldn't just acquire him.

    2010-11 Stats: 74 games played, 22 goals, 35 assists, 57 points

    What would it cost the Leafs: Nazem Kadri, the two first-rounders, and one of the Leafs goaltending prospects

Jeff Carter, Philadelphia Flyers

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    PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 22:  Jeff Carter #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers waits during warmups before an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals at the Wells Fargo Center on March 22, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Ge
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    If not for Tomas Kaberle, Jeff Carter would already be wearing a Maple Leafs jersey. That's old news, but the Carter to Toronto rumors seem to have started up again. With the Flyers tight against the salary cap, trading Carter would definitely loosen the noose a little bit.

    Since Carter is part of the core in Philly, it might be hard to lure him out of Philadelphia, but it might be worth it to give them some more cap flexibility and a few prospects.

    2010-11 Stats: 80 games played, 36 goals, 30 assists, 66 points

    What it would cost the Leafs: Both first-rounders, Jerry D'Amigo, one of the Leafs goaltending prospects

Stephen Weiss, Florida Panthers

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    UNIONDALE, NY - FEBRUARY 21:  Stephen Weiss #9 of the Florida Panthers waits for a faceoff during an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders at the Nassau Coliseum on February 21, 2011 in Uniondale, New York.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
    Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

    While there is doubt that Stephen Weiss is a true-first line center, there is less doubt that Weiss is a better first-line center than Tyler Bozak. While it should only take a first-rounder and a prospect to acquire him, with a general manager like Dale Tallon at the helm of a rebuild in Florida, I wouldn't be surprised if he asked for more than Weiss is actually worth.

    2010-11 Stats: 76 games played, 21 goals, 28 assists, 49 points

    What it would cost the Leafs: Boston's first-rounder, Jerry D'Amigo, Carl Gunnarsson