With Brian Burke officially taking over the Maple Leafs on Saturday, he has made a couple of things clear.
First, he mentioned is that he loves toughness, he loves tenacity and he loves players who are willing to get dirty. If you are a third or forth line player, you have to be tough. No excuses or you are out.
Second, he said was he has implemented a self-imposed Christmas deadline of December nineth. That, combined with the fact that he said he wanted to take his time getting to know the players, means no one is getting moved until the new year.
That being said, he also mentioned that he wants his team finishing in the bottom three in the league so he can get a high draft pick.
Which means that at some point, this team is going to be blown up.
All the major assets this club has to offer will be put up for auction on the open market and looking at the roster, it is quite clear who will be up for sale.
These are the players I believe are available this year, along with what we can get for them:
Nik Antropov: Cliff Fletcher said that he was the only top line worthy player on the entire Maple Leafs team this season. He has a big body that he can plant in front of the net, he can tip pucks with the best of them and is surprisingly fast for his size. I say that Brian Burke will wait until the trading deadline so we can get as much for him as possible.
Mattering how he performs this season, or if he can stay healthy, I could see him fetch a second round pick in this years draft, along with a prospect.
Some teams that will be interested will be: Colorado, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.
Alexei Ponikarovsky: Although he is streaky at times, he is still capable of notching 20 goals a season. He has size and is strong with the puck. Not to mention he has a booming shot when he decides to shoot. Because he is so streaky, I say wait until he goes on one of his tears and trade him when his stock is high. He will be traded before the trade deadline and is a solid second to third line player.
If they trade him at the right time, I could see the Maple Leafs getting a second or third round draft pick, a Burke style player, or a prospect in return.
Some teams that will be interested will be: Boston, Buffalo, Dallas, Florida, San Jose, and Vancouver.
Pavel Kubina: He may have some mental lapses when he plays defense, but when he is on, he is on. He is one of those type of defenseman who can play an amazing game one night and a brutal one the next. The only thing that keeps him a top four defenseman is the fact that he has a booming shot, and is great on the power play. He will be traded by the trade deadline, just do not know if it will be before or at the deadline.
This is an interesting situation because Kubina has multiple years left in his contract. Because of this, he is much more appealing to most of the teams out there, but it is more likely he will go to a team that is a playoff contender. I suspect that he will be able to fetch a first round pick, and another pick. Or he can fetch a first round pick, and a prospect.
Some teams that will be interested will be: Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Florida, St. Louis, Tampa Bay, and Washington.
Tomas Kaberle: Easily has one of the best first passes in the NHL. He is solid at both ends of the ice, and can run any powerplay. Sadly, he is not Brian Burke's style of defenseman, because he cannot body check that well. But that does not mean he is not a good defenseman by any means. Almost every team in the NHL dreams of having a defenseman of this caliber. He is a top pairing defenseman who will be traded by the trade deadline.
Kaberle is our biggest asset. He is a player that is in his prime, and almost never makes mistakes. On the market, he could easily reel in a first and second round pick, along with a prospect. Another thing that could happen is he could be apart of a one player swap. One elite player for another elite player. Jay Bouwmester said that he is not happy in Florida and refuses to sign a extension. Could we see him coming to Toronto?
Some teams that will be interested will be: Atlanta, Calgary, Carolina, Dallas, Florida, Minnesota, and Washington
Jason Blake: This is an interesting situation and for a few reasons. First off, the fact that Jason Blake is the opposite of what Brian Burke likes. He is small, is not rough anymore, and he cannot score well enough to deserve a top line billing. But, because of his contract, this will make him hard to move. He still has usefulness for a team though. He can still score enough, he is very fast and still good in his own end. Whether it be via trade or buy-out. Jason Blake will not be a Maple Leaf by next season.
In a trade, because of his contract, all I can see is a late draft pick or a future considerations.
Some teams that will be interested will be: Chicago, Edmonton, Minnesota, New York Islanders, and Phoenix.
Anton Stralman: This one will surprise most, but look at Burke's track record. He is impatient, and he prefers physical defenseman. Anton Stralman does have a lot of potential, but he still does not fit Burke's bill. He is a small defenseman who avoids going into the corners. Not to take away from his potential though. I think he will be traded before the trade deadline.
Something tells me Burke will trade him for another prospect. Straight up. Probably a big forward prospect. Maybe even a rugged defensive prospect.
Some teams that will be interested will be: Carolina, Detroit, Edmonton, Ottawa, Phoenix, St. Louis, and Tampa Bay.
Overall, all these players, (with the exception of Blake), have been playing very well for the Leafs. It is just that most of these players can get the Maple Leafs a lot in return via draft picks or prospects. On the other hand, there are other players on this list that just do not fit the Brian Burke mold, and regardless of performance, will be traded.
But the fact still remains that Brian Burke will be stripping this team down and building it back into his mold of what a hockey team should look like. Now, all we can do is sit and wait for the new year to come and bring us some new players and hope for a better future.
Note: The reason I did not put Toskala on this list is because Burke said himself that you got to build from the net out. Something tells me that he is going to be keeping Toskala around until Justin Pogge is ready to take over as starting goaltender.