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