What Do the Maple Leafs Need Going Forward?

Roy SteevesContributor IDecember 14, 2008

With the Leafs still feeling the effects of the John Ferguson Jr./Cliff Fletcher reign at the helm, Toronto is in need of a few key components that have still not been addressed.

First things first, the rebuilding Leafs need a leader—someone to wear the “C” that Mats Sundin abandoned in the offseason. The Leafs need a strong leader that has experience and can take command of a Leafs team that is getting younger and younger these days. What Veterans are out there? The short list...drum roll, please...Brendan Shanahan and Gary Roberts.

Roberts is playing on a “B” star-studded Tampa Bay Lighting team that is struggling with player chemistry and poor coaching via Barry Melrose and now Rick Tocchet.

Why would a 41-year-old war horse make a great leafs captain? One word: experience.

The Maple Leafs have not made the playoffs since Gary left and why? He is vocal in the dressing room and hold people personally responsible for their actions. Not only is he an experienced leader, he brings another element to the team that is off ice. He is the perfect example of how an NHL player should carry himself on and off the ice, both with the media and lifestyle.

A move to Toronto would also be a good move for his family to be closer together. A great choice for captain, but maybe I am a little nostalgic.

Shanahan has not played this yea; however, he has not called it a career as of yet. Why would you take on a man like this in a town like Toronto? Playoff experience and Stanley Cup experience. Most have all but forgotten about this future Hall of Famer but remember he put up 46 points last season and also played in the 2006-07 All-Star Game. Brendan Shanahan has represented Canada on many occasions but has never played for a Canadian NHL club.

Shanahan or Roberts? Both great choices; however, will Brian Burke make the move to take on one of these veteran blue-collar wingers? Probably not, but the fact remains the leafs need a Captain and with Tampa struggling and Shanahan sitting out either would not be too difficult to acquire.

Another element they need is a decent backup goaltender. I hate to say it, but Curtis Joseph, no matter how much I want him to, is not cutting it as the No. 2, while Vesa Toskala seems to still be finding his game as a No. 1 starter.

Who is out there? If you are Canadian, the answer is probably right in front of you...Has anyone else noticed the goaltending carousel in Edmonton? Edmonton is carrying three good goaltenders in Dwayne Roloson, Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, and Mathieu Garon. All have similar numbers this season, could complement Toskala, and are comfortable in the backup roll. When choosing a goaltender off the Oiler carousel, it's really just a roll of the dice.

Last item on the shopping list is a tough guy/agitator, and this man is the always-controversial Sean Avery. Avery’s game is an in-your-face style that throws off not only one player, but whole teams. He is going to get you off your game and the put some points on the board. 

Avery being a super pest is also a decent 30- to 40-point-per-season producer. Avery’s unique “skill” set would bring a whole new facet to a boring Leafs lineup.