Toronto Maple Leafs: What the 2011 Off-Season May Have in Store
As we all have come to realize, Toronto GM Brian Burke and his right hand man Dave Nonis must focus all of their energy towards this off-season.
There is no such task as a little task when it comes to acquiring high-end players via trade or whether it's signing that big fish in the pond through Free Agency.
I recently took a bit of time off of blogging to concentrate on other aspects. So I'm ready to dive back into the fun once again!
With this article I will look at possible trades and possible important signings to come July 1 and beyond. I wish to specify that this is just speculation and only meant to spark a debate. There is nothing more exhilarating then an engaging conversation when it comes to our beloved Leafs.
With the draft approaching faster than usual (to me), Mr. Burke has his management team looking at any and all possible options. According to capgeek.com, the Leafs have roughly $21 million in cap space this off-season.
Now, figuring that because of the record setting sales the cap is probably going to be moving up to $62/63 million. $24 million is alot of cap space, my friends. We aren't even at the cap floor.
As July 1 comes, the Leafs have a few important restricted free agents.
RFA: Luke Schenn, Clarke MaCarthur, Tyler Bozak, Carl Gunnarson, Mat Lashoff, Luca Caputi, Christian Hanson with Goaltenders Ben Scrivens and James "Optimus Reim" Reimer.
UFA: J.S Giguere, Tim Brent, Darryl Boyce, Fred Sjostrom.
Now of course thats not all of the contracts that have expired but just the main ones. Here's who I believe will be re-signed and for how much.
D- Luke Schenn $ 3,725,000 - $ 4,250,00 with a NTC/NMC
F- Clarke MaCarthur $ 2,850,000 - $ 3,200,000
F- Tyler Bozak $ 1,400,000 - $ 1,500,000
D- Carl Gunnarson $ 1,875,000 - $ 2,225,000
D- Mat Lashoff $ 850,000 2-way contract.
F- Luca Caputi + Christian Hanson $ 875,000 2-way contracts.
F- Tim Brent $ 600,000 NHL contract.
G- James Reimer $ 1,350,000 - $ 1,500,000
G- Ben Scrivens $ 650,000 2-way contract.
Boyce, Sjostrom and Gigure I believe will not be re-signed. Adding the one-way NHL contracts using the lowest and then the highest would be totaled as follows.
Using the higher salaries you would add this much to your projected cap hit - $13.275 million
Lower contract values - $11.8 million
If the cap were to be $62.5 million then we would have about $11 million of cap space to fill up. Keeping in mind we have to try not to screw ourselves over when it comes to re-signing our expired contracts next year.
Being a NHL GM you have to think 2-5 years ahead before making a move. Now I won't get too in depth with that, but I would like to take a look at a few possible trades and a few possible free agents. Keep in mind what I said at the beginning of the article about "speculation" and "debate."
So without further ado.....
Signing of RW Scottie Upshall
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Scottie Upshall would be a welcomed addition to this Leaf squad. He is exactly what this team is looking for in a 3rd/2nd liner. He's an extremely hard worker with tremendous heart.
Upshall is definitely no stranger to the goaltenders crease and loves to ensue havoc on opposing team players whether it be finishing his next big check or booming one past the goaltender.
His production has been steadily inclining over his past four seasons with goal totals of 14 in 07/08, 8 in 19 games played due to injury in the 08/09 season, 18 in 09/10 and finally 22 this year. He usually racks up about the same amount of assists.
I believe it will take somewhere from $3.0 - $3.3 million per season at a total of three years. Which would be a great investment considering what Upshall would bring to this young Leaf squad.
Signing of C Zenon Konopka
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images
This move is for exactly what this picture represents. The Leafs were horrid on face-offs this season and could really use some help in this department.
Ultimately losing draws, added to a very disgusting penalty kill, more than likely cost us quite a few games. You can't win hockey games if you don't have possession of the puck, ladies and gentlemen.
Zenon Konopka would be brought in to play LW on the fourth line but would take all of the draws letting someone else take the defensive responsibilities after the draw. He would also be used in possession situations when it comes to a important face off in either end.
He is not just here to win face-offs, but also to back Colton Orr up and defend his teammates. He's had 572 PIM in the last 2 seasons. Damn, that's a lot! Considering he was -14 makes you hesitate a little bit but then again he played for the Islanders so its warranted.
In total I believe he would be offered the same contract as Colton Orr. 4 years at 1 million per.
Trade with the New Jersey Devils
Jonathan Klein/Getty Images
Ahh My Favorite parts of the article.
Acquiring Travis Zajac would be for the one and only purpose of gaining that coveted # 1 center. Travis Zajac in my opinion would be a better option then Jeff Carter due to salary cap purposes, length of contract and his more effective 2-way game. When Zajac (6'3 200 lbs) was drafted by the Devils, scouts perceived him to be a Boom or Bust pick. Meaning he may very well develop into a top line Center but it was unclear. They knew he had the defensive prowess to have some role in the Nhl.
I'm sure he has learned alot playing with the Devils as he has gotten to learn by some of the best. He definitely could be a 70 point man playing on Toronto's top line with Kessel and Lupul. The only problem with attaining him is it would cost quite a bit.
The Leafs know that the Devils have cap issues and that they would love to re-sign Parise. Here's what i propose.
To Toronto: C Travis Zajac
To New Jersey: C Tyler Bozak, 2011 1st round pick (25th overall),2011 3rd round pick (Phili's), D Jesse Blacker,F Jerry D'Amigo and G Jussi Ryynas.
Lets face it, Brodeur ain't getting any younger and the Devils have no decent prospects within to fill in for him.
I Believe that this is fair value for New Jersey. I ultimately believe its less then we would have to pay for Jeff Carter.
Woah! This Came from Way out of Left Field!
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images
I thought about this over and over again, time and time again. Pitsburgh only has around 5 million worth of cap space to sign and re-sign players this off-season. No one EVER talks about the Penguins being in cap trouble. But the truth is they are, them more so then most. Evgeni Malkin is a # 1 center stuck in Sidney Crosby's shadow. With Jordan Staal ready to take the reigns on the 2nd unit, Malkin and his 8.7 million dollar contract become expendable. Upon his approval of course.
Evgeni Malkin is a scoring and assist machine. What he lacks is that 2 way play that make Crosby so great. I truly believe if Malkin were to come out from Crosby's shadow then you would see great things from Malkin. Everybody knows how Burkie loves to shock the hockey world with his trades, this would definitely be one. But considering the benefits it may be well wort having to give up a extreme amount of assets. He would immediately be Toronto's best player and would definitely make the top line better. Kessel would most likely hit that elusive 40 goal mark with Lupul reaching 30.
This trade is a "either/or" scenario meaning - Either Malkin or Zajac.
Toronto receives: C Evgeni Malkin
Penguins receive: D Carl Gunnarson, F Clarke Macarthur, C Tyler Bozak, 2011 1st round pick (25th overall), 2011 2nd round pick 39th overall, 2012 Toronto's first round pick and F Matt Frattin
The cost is deep and would hurt very much but i believe it would most definitely benefit both teams.
Toronto gets the one game breaker and perennial all star with amazing play-making and goal-scoring ability.
And on the other hand The Pen's get a rising young star and 2-way defender in Gunnarson, 3rd line center with offensive upside in Bozak, Two wingers who very well may finally fill the void on Crosby's wing in MaCarthur and Frattin (down the road). And they wouldn't even start conversations involving Malkin unless the price we paid for Kessel was just the beginning. And i mean very beginning. No one offers what they are willing to part with right away.
Considering we paid 2 1st's and a 2nd for Kessel, you'd have to believe adding Gunnarson,MaCarthur and Frattin would land us Malkin.
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
All in all those moves would keep us under the cap and would improve the team greatly. I'm not saying this is how the signings would go down or perhaps the price but i definitely see it in the same ball park. You did not see Kadri,Colborne or Gardiner in any of those trades because i believe those are our 3 "Untouchable" Prospects. We cannot and should not trade them.
Here's a little look at what our projected lines "Could" be
Lupul / Malkin / Kessel
Kadri / Grabovski / Kulemin
Upshall / Colborne / Armstrong
Brown / Konpka / Orr
Phaneuf / Aulie
Gardiner / Schenn
Gunnarson / Komisarek
All in all i think it will be a wicked off season. What do you guys think? Is it Fair value? Are these players worth going after? How do you think the team would fare with these addition?
Please feel free to comment, id love to hear what everyone thinks!!
See yah next time!