If Brian Burke "needs" to make the playoffs this year, then there is absolutely now way that he can go into the season with Tyler Bozak as his number one centre. No way in H-E double hockey sticks.
I am actually a huge Tyler Bozak fan. This kid has everything necessary to be an excellent No. 2 centre. He's quick, crafty, good on faceoffs, and has a great all around hockey sense. That being said, he's small, and with only 37 NHL games under his belt is way too experienced to be a number one centre on a playoff team.
Brian Burke didn't need to proclaim "we want to make the playoffs this year" because as soon as the Kessel deal was made it was blatantly obvious that any slow rebuild was not going to happen.
Burke can say he's happy going into the season with this roster, but that's a complete bold-faced lie.
So, I ask you readers, which centre should he target? Jeff Carter will be very expensive, and I believe it would cost Kaberle plus a player like Kulemin to get him (and it would cost Kaberle with a contract extension at that).
Mike Ribiero is a viable option, but if Dallas is looking to clear up some money due to their ownership issues why would they give up Ribiero to take on Kaberle unless Kabs signs and extension, which again, defeats the purpose of Dallas taking him?
Also from the Stars is Brad Richards, who at $7.8 million a year is extremely pricey. However, he does come off the books after this year, just like Kaberle, which could make this option work. That leaves the Stars a bit bare at centre, but maybe Burkie could somehow get Dallas to take Grabovski in the trade?
Look, there are many possibilities for the Leafs in terms of acquiring a centre, from the outlandish like Vinny Lecavalier to the obvious like Marc Savard to the wishful thinking like Jordan Staal (though he would be my target and I wouldn't put it past Burke to take a run at him) and everything in between (Roy, Little, Weiss, Bergeron).
The one thing that is certain is that it makes ZERO sense for Brian Burke to continue to mortgage the future of this team only to leave a gaping hole in one of the most important slots on a successful team: number one centre.
I look forward to hearing everybody's thoughts on the matter.