As the 2009 calender year comes to a close with the Maple Leafs three points behind a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Brian Burke will need to look at making some decisions in 2010 and the first one on his list needs to be the resigning of defensemen Ian White. The 25 year old on many nights this season has been the teams best rearguard and overall it's not much of a stretch to say that he has been the teams second best defensemen behind only Tomas Kaberle this season. White is set to become a restricted free agent and Burke would be wise to sign the versatile White, who can also play forward when asked by the Leafs coaching staff to a long term deal. White who started off his first season with Ron Wilson as the teams head coach in the pressbox has worked hard to get regular duty under Wilson and now is firmly planted in the Leafs Top 4 defense this season. White has eight goals (one behind league lead for defensemen) and thirteen assists this season with a plus nine rating. White is on pace to shatter his career high in points in a season of twenty six, which he achieved on two occasions and is slowly starting to live up to scouts comparing his play to that of Brian Rafalski. Burke needs to draw on his experience in negotiating contracts and hopefully be able to sign White to a long term deal of around 4 to 5 years at an average salary of anywhere from 2.5 to 3 million a season, in today's market for defensemen this looks to be the going rate. The Leafs will once again have a lot of money tied to big contracts on the backend with about $15 million against the cap next season already committed to Kaberle, Beauchemin, Komisarek and Schenn not including the White signing. The Leafs do have Exelby's and Van Ryn's contracts coming off the books after the season. The Leafs could also take a look at the bloated contract of Jeff Finger at $3.5 million a season over the next two years as a buyout would be a cap hit of just under $1.2 million over the next four years if the can not find any takers on the trade front. The team would not need to worry short term about all the high salary on the backend with alot of young forwards on the team over the next few years in Stalberg, Hanson, Bozak, Kulemin and Mitchell having all low salaries. Brian Burke needs to make some moves in 2010 and why not have the first of those moves being a long term contract to Ian White. I think most Leaf fans would agree that he has more then earned it.
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