Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Toronto Maple Leafs - Buying A Championship?


The Toronto Maple Leafs are in an incredibly interesting position. They have more money coming available in 2010-11 than anyone in the NHL. Brian Burke has been quoted that he will be 'very active' when free agency begins on July 1. The Leafs are actually the team with the room to make it work - acquiring Jay Bouwmeester and Ilya Kovalchuk is a distinct possibility. The problem? The Leafs don't seem to have any players either. Right now, only 5 players are signed for 2010-11. Brian Burke has his work cut out for him. Perhaps he will stop talking to the press for a few minutes to run his team.

Projected Lines For 2009-10


Van Ryn-White


Future Watch

The Leafs just drafted C Nazem Kadri - he is likely a few years away. LW Jiri Tlusty had a point a game in the AHL and should finally stick in Toronto. RW Jeremy Williams had 27 goals in 46 AHL games - if he's not a Leaf next year, someone will likely give him a shot. G Justin Pogge was terrible in his NHL stint - it's unclear whether he has a future with the Leafs.


Wheeler/Dealer Burke will have no problem swinging trades, except for those pesky no-trade clauses left by his precedessor like so many single-edged swords (pointed right at him). The two most likely players to move, Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle, also have no-trade clauses. It'd be surprising if Burke didn't make a trade or two before the season. Next year, when Burke has somewhere between 28 and 31 million dollars available and most teams are scrambling around for cap space, Burke could be a repository for bad contracts.

Free Agent Discussion

Money to Spend: $14.5 million
Holes To Fill: 3

While it says the Leafs have 3 holes to fill, they could conceivably upgrade everywhere. They lack top-end talent at every position and have to be interested in all of the best free agents. They are one of the few teams who can legitimately enter their name in the Marian Hossa sweepstakes. Were there a top-line center available this off-season, Toronto would have to be in the discussion. The Leafs may do what the Kings did two years ago - sign people to one-year contracts and attempt to trade them at the trade deadline if they're out of the playoffs.

Essentially, the Leafs can't be ruled out from getting anyone, so discussing who they may get is a pointless exercise.


The Leafs are in an incredibly advantageous position to quickly retool and actually become a formidable threat in the Northeast Division in 2 years. Brian Burke has to be careful not to try to put it all together quickly - the Leafs don't have a lot of prospect depth. This is still a team 2 or 3 years away from serious playoff contention barring some particularly swashbuckling moves from The Great and Terrible Burke.


Don't invest in the Yonge Street Parade Corporation quite yet, but the Leafs actually have a positive outlook for the first time since the lockout ended.

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