Brian Burke (pictured with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman) is in the middle of it and Leafs Nation wants to see him make a mark strong enough so that the team can be pushed forward into the playoffs. It will be quite the challenge, however, there are several moves this team should not make so that their future looks bright.
Offseasons can render a fan blind when there is a big-name free agent on the market.
It is imperative that the Leafs re-sign a couple of their current unrestricted agents.
Aside from Jean-Sebastien Giguere, their UFAs are current or future third and fourth-liners.
Personal Preference: Re-sign Tim Brent (pictured) and Jay Rosehill.
Unless it's to move up high in the draft, then I am all for it.
I personally think the Toronto Maple Leafs should keep their two first-rounders considering the draft class of 2011. Many experts believe that past the big names in the top five, the first-round crop is rather even.
Many fans can definitely see having the two late first-rounders as a chance to snag a star. However, I think there's a good chance that the team would end up overpaying rather than stealing a trade (seeing as how it's a known fact that the Leafs are in dire need of a top-line player).
With Luke Schenn due for a pay raise, the last thing management should consider is dishing out the big bucks for another guy on the back end.
The Leafs already have five set pieces filling up the top five spots. For argument's sake, going after someone like Christian Ehrhoff or Kevin Bieksa would be a terrible move from a fiscal perspective.
Jake Gardiner (pictured), Simon Gysbers and Jesse Blacker are all great prospects that will have a chance to get a call-up at some point next season. However, they will have to prove themselves at training camp first.
James Reimer (pictured) may or may not be the goalie of the future for the Toronto Maple Leafs. One thing that is certain though is that the Leafs cannot bank on him performing the way he did in 2011.
Therefore, they must go out and seek a decent backup who can handle a 20-30 game load. However, considering they have Jonas Gustavsson in the picture, it would be a terrible move to overpay for a tender.
Personally, picking up Brian Boucher or Ty Conklin (maybe even Ray Emery if he comes cheap) would be an ideal scenario.
Clarke MacActhur will be an unrestricted free agent as of July 1st, 2011. He has yet to be re-signed even though negotiations have been going on for a while.
Paired with Grabovski and Kulemin, MacArthur dominated, as did the other two. Leafs fans definitely do not want to see these guys get broken up; they are a great second line.
One thing that must be avoided is overpaying for MacArthur since he has not proven to be a consistent point producer in the NHL, aside from this previous season.
Best-case scenario, he gets a $2.5-3M contract.
Worst-case scenario, he demands too much and Burke lets him leave, Dominic Moore-style.
Luke Schenn's rookie contract has neared its end and the kid is due for quite a raise.
It's tough to say how much he will get considering there was a bit of inconsistency throughout his game. A rough ballpark estimate would definitely be near the $4M mark.
Normally this would not be an issue but considering the contracts that the Leafs have tied to the back end, overpaying Schenn could prove to be beyond costly.
Yes, I am beating a dead horse mentioning Brad Richards. And yes, he would be great on the Leafs as a first-line center to complement Phil Kessel.
HOWEVER, there is far more negative that can come from signing the former Conn Smythe winner than positive.
1. His price will be driven up way too high from the bidding going on amongst teams. He is a first-line center; those do not become available too often.
2. He has a history of injuries, most recently, concussions. He has not played a full season since 2006-2007 (did play 80 in 2009-2010).
What mainly stands out from the two, of course, is price.