Last season I had a big post on what I think the leafs should do and it was pretty decent in predicting reality even though everyone in Leafland thought it appropriate to tear me a new one. Specifically, one of the "crazy" things I said was to trade Toskala and sign huet in his place. Alas that is what we should have done but we didn't and we may be paying for it a bit.
So this year I thought I would do my Volume II of my proposed plan for the leafs from the trade deadline to trade deadline in the form of a blog. This is my first so please be gentle. What is a little irritating is that I started writing this a few days ago and since then a few of the things I mention have been brought up on hockey buzz by eklund and other writers such as berger.
To start I would like you to keep a few things in mind. First, the leafs are in a precarious position as they have some decent assets and money to spend. It is obvious to most of us that many of our key assets should be sold off for some younger, cheaper talent and picks. Although our GM is yet to tip his hat, I think it is fair to say that we will not be buyers in the coming months, and it will be more of a question of how much will be sold.
Phase I - The Expiring Contracts
Look at the lowest 5 payrolls in the league in terms of free cap space and operating income in millions of dollars
PHX 10.4 – (6.0)
ATL 10.2 – (5.4)
NAS 11.1 – (1.1)
LA 11.5 – 7.1
TOR 9.6 – 41.5
All teams are struggling, but only one can afford it. So who do you think is more likely to spend some cash, take on some cash or make a splash in free agency????
This coming trade deadline there will be teams looking for space to fit their targets in under the cap at the deadline. Toronto should be the cleaning house for some bad contracts (maximum one year remaining) in exchange for draft picks. Call us the IMF of the NHL. We can take loads from botswana as long as we get the appropriate collateral. Any contracts expiring this year we put on the current payroll. All others should be put into the minors with Bell.
Phase II - The Trades
You can argue on the specific value but most of them are not that far off so please do not be petty and say Antropov is worth no more than a 2nd because anyone with brain knows that is just not true he is worth somewere from a 25th to a 35th pick.
Toskala - No idea what we will get for him as it depends on how he plays late and if someone needs a goalie at the deadline it would really help.
Antropov - He is worth a late first (2 million off the books)
Poni - Worth a 2nd (2 million off the books)
Kubina - Worth a late first on draft day plus a roster dman ( 3 - 2 million off the books)
Kaberle - Worth a 1st and Prospect, better if we do it at deadline! ( 3 million off books)
Van Ryn – If he gets back to his form before the injury he could be worth a 2nd rounder and his contract is very, very reasonable
Phase II - The Draft
Draft anyone of Tavares, Hedman, Magnus, Cowen, Duchenne. Not much more to say than that. We will finish in the bottom 5 if we trade away any three of the above players. Depending on who we get will change our plans somewhat because both Tavares and Hedman are probably NHL ready but for the sake of this plan we should assume that we will draft an AHL player.
Now here comes the second step. Take the first from Kubina and Antropov and give them to whoever is in 10th for Braydon Schenn. This would be a phenomela move that is right up Burke's alley. Keeping brothers together makes them less like to adios in free agency.
This would give us
1 top 5 pick
1st for Kaberle
2 2nd rounders
potentially a 2nd rounder for Toskala
6 players in the first two rounds of this years draft.
Couple that with out 5 or 6 other picks and that is more players that we have drafted in well over 20 years. This could be a very productive year for the marlies
Phase III - Free Agents
Jay Bowmeester – 6.25 million for 10 years
He will be available because he will get to chose the team and he knows he is the best UFA d-man to come on the market since chara and no one is coming for a while
Joey MacDonald - 2 for 4
He can be priced out of NYI range pretty fast but the real thing is you just do not need him on long island
Clemenssen - 2 for 2
He has shown us how bad a decision we made letting him go. Both joey and Scott can be had if you slightly overpay them and they are given an opportunity to compete for the #1 spot.
Moore - 1.6 for 3 years
Franzen - 4 for 4
This is done by bidding for Zetterberg and hossa at the same time. They simply can’t keep them all and we can pry him away.
Bertuzzi – 2.5 for 2
This guy has some hockey left in him. He is a monster and would make the team a lot tougher much faster.
The Leafs of 09-10
Bertuzzi - Grabrovski – Hagman
Stempniak - Franzen – Prospect in Kaberle trade
Kulemin - Stajan - Blake
Mayer - Mitchell - May
Reserves - top Draft pick, Hollweg, Boyce, Williams
Bowmeester - Schenn
Finger – Player from Kubina trade
White - Frogen
Reserves – Sifers, Stralman
That is a roster of 47 million.
Phase IV - Trade Deadline
Do absolutely nothing. Period. Take on some bad expiring contracts like we did last year but do absolutely nothing!
Phase V – 2010 Free Agency
During this time you only look to sign one player. That’s it. One mega player and that is it. We will potentially have 10 million in cap space (probably less with it set to come don over the next few years) but the key thing to keep in mind is that if the cap comes down your purchasing power is still the same. So if you have cap space it doesn’t matter if your 10 million turns into 7 million. You will still be able to get the same player, just for less. The beauty of supply and demand.
So you just go after one of the following player:
Whoever you get you are better. period. Who cares who you get. The remaining cap space you use for tradeline deals then signing your RFA.
Final “Crazy” Though’s
Take everything I said and throw it out the window.
Burke may take a run at the cup next year by doing the following. Same plan as above except he signs Hossa, Scott Nedimiyer and Backstrom for 7 million 5 million and 6 million respectively for 4, 1, and 4 years respectively. He waives blake and does not sign joey and scott to make room. It is a bit crazy but if he were to sign all those guys The team would look like this
Hossa – Franzen – Bertuzzi
Hagman – Grabrovski – Stempniak
Kaberle Prospect – Stajan – Moore
May – Mitchel – Mayers
Bowmeester – Finger
Nedimiyer – Schenn
White – Player from kubina trade
Reserves – Stralman, Williams, Sifers, Kulemin, Hollweg, top draft pick, Boyce
That would be one bad ass team and it is all doable if he is inclined to spend all of the leafs cap space in a single season. Remember players sign in bunches and usually to the big competitors for free agents (Teams with money and winning records):
None of these teams will be able to bid on anyone! They have no space and have their own free agent issues. So this could be one of the best summers for Toronto to actually sign free agents. As the teams we will have to compete with are:
I’m not saying Toronto is more desirable than those teams but, Toronto is more desirable than those teams.
Who knows what will happen, but from where I stand this is what I would do.