1. Despite what a lot of people seem to be thinking about what will happen if the Oilers get a second line centre at the draft and thus free up Sam Gagner for trade, the Leafs should steer clear of him. If the Leafs were to land him, he's projected as the number one centre, and adding to that, he's a Toronto boy, and we all know how Brian Burke loves local boys (sarcasm). But if the Leafs are looking for a 50 point number 1 centre, they already have one in Tyler Bozak. In fact Bozak had the same number of goals and points as Gagner in four less games, and, from what little I've seen of Gagner, Bozak is more responsible in his own end, which, if you're skating next to Kessel, is never underrated. Another point against Gagner: he got literally a forth of his points in two games. consistency issues much.
2. More and more I just want the Leafs to say f!*# it and let Scrivens start 60 games next season. Serious suggestion. This guy is the best goaltender in the AHL and has been all year. If the playoffs are the most important time to play well, then Leafs management should be seriously considering this kid. I'm serious when I say that Ben will win the scrivezina one day.
3. As much as I've been saying Jake Gardiner is untouchable, if any team in the top five offered their pick for him, that's a done deal. Two picks in the top five (the most likely one being the Islanders at number 4) will get the Leafs two possible impact forwards. Depending on who you talk to, most people have the same six or seven guys at the top. Assuming the Leafs will be putting higher priority on drafting a forward, at least one of Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Alex Galchenyuk will be available, assuming Nail Yakupov gets taken in the top three (but who questions that?). In the unlikely circumstance two of those players are already taken, the Leafs take one of Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Matt Dumba, Olli Matta (who very well could be the best defence man from this draft, he's been gold for London these playoffs), and Morgan Rielly. All three of theforwards are good options, although the Leafs should be hoping one of Grigoenko and Galchenyuk are available, because centre is the Leafs weakness. Of the defense men, who to draft depends on what the leafs want. If they want a hyper skilled power play quarterback to replace Jake, expect Rielly to be drafted. If they're looking for a bruising, energy, character guy expect Dion Phaneuf part two (Dumba) or Reinhart. If the goal is to get the best all around guy who can step in and be a top 4 defence man for the next 15 years, expect Murray or Matta. Personally I love Rielly, he, like Jake, is so skilled that he is hard to pass on, although all of these players would become the Leafs best defensive prospect immediately. All of this is rendered moot however if two of the above forwards are available when the Leafs pick twice, which is also dependent on the Leafs trading Gardiner for a top 5 pick.
4. Jerry D'amigo HAS to be in the NHL next year as a bottom six forward. He works to hard and has been to good in the AHL playoffs to be stuck in the minors all year. Sure, Colborne, Kadri, and Ashton are better prospects, but Ashton hasn't been good enough this year, and Colborne and Kadri are top six players. Jerry D'amigo is like Dustin Brown in that he has no fear despite his size, he goes hard on every shift, plays an awesome 200 foot game, and can score a little. Every team needs guys like D'amigo to win, guys who despise losing more than anything. A third line featuring D'amigo and Bozak is a great place to start.
5. Of course Bozak being on the third line means one of three things: somebody in the organization has developed into a number 1 centre, a 2012 draftee is given the reins to the position, or one is brought in via trade. The Leafs really only have two guys in the organization with the hockey smarts and ability to even be considered for the enticing spot (and frankly, what playmaking would turn down a spot between Fruit-Lups and Kessel?), Colborne and Kadri. Of those two, Colborne is the only one I can see developing into a number one centre (Kadri looks to me like a second line winger, at best). Putting him in the NHL would not be such a terrible idea. If the Leafs want him to succeed though they should make him watch every game Joe Thorton has ever played, and have him hold his body around that. Of the kids in the draft, Griogorenko is the only one I can see stepping in immediately, but not as a first line centre. That being said, he had mono all year (which many think was the reason he didn't press Yakupov more for the top spot) and now that he's been diagnosed and I assumed getting medication, can he up his stock? It would be interesting to see. That being said Montreal has huge interest in this Grigorenko, so the Leafs will most likely need to trade up if they want him.
Which leafs the trade front (get the pun there?). Couple of entirely fictitious trades, anyone?
Trade 1: Kadri, Colborne to San Jose for Jumbo Joe Thorton.
The Sharks need to get younger. In this deal they get Jumbo Joe 0.75 and a future top 6 forward. The Leafs get a player who between Lupul and Kessel WOULD get 80 points and score 20 goals. Plus he's huge, and his contracts not that bad. Only downside? He's on the wrong side of thirty when the Leafs are young. That being said 3 bad years from Thorton is better than 3 good years from Bozak, so ya.
Trade2: Paul Statsny from Colorado for MacArthur, Kadri, 6th round pick
The Leafs get a number one centre who Kessel has played with before (2010 Olympics). He’s a playmaker, he’s fast. And, he’s rumored to be available because of Ryan O’Reilly’s emergence as more than a bottom six player. The Avalanche need top six wingers both now and for after Milan Hejduk calls it a career. Macattack is already a top six winger, and Kadri is a good (high risk) prospective one. Also, this leaves a hole in the top six from Colborne or a forward taken at the draft. The Avalanche also get to clear 6.6 million from their cap (they have to resign literally 7/10ths of the team), 6.6 million the Leafs would have to account for by burying Connolly or Komisarek in the minors, or finding a fool to take them off their hands.
Trade3: Olli Jokinen for a second round pick, or signed as a free agent.
If this was a trade, it will probably occur in the season, when the Flames management realize they are simply terrible. Olli is an alright playmaker, the only problem being that he doesn’t have the wheels to keep up with anyone in the Leafs top six. He will probably get a two year contract worth about 3 million per. He will probably be traded to a desperate playoff team for a first, so this isn’t likely, even when an idiot like Feaster is pulling the strings. Is Jokinen worth a first?
Trade4: Schenn, 5th overall pick to Carolina for Eric Stall
The Hurricanes get both an exceptionally high pick with which to chose between high end offense and high end defense and a bruising defensive defense man who will be a shut down player. They get younger, and will get to adopt a defense first strategy (they don’t have the prospects to be an offensive team). Of course, this trade only goes down if the ‘Canes’ management decides that they want to actually win in the future, instead of being an also-ran every year (not bad enough to draft good players, not good enough to make the playoffs). Leafs get a huge, playmaking centre from the same draft year as Phaneuf who’s been a captain in NHL, won a cup, and an Olympic medal. Sounds like a Leafs steal, so throw in a sweetener (D’amigo, Blacker, 2nd round pick).
Of all these options, Jokinen is the most likely to be traded (Flames will suck) and Stall is the least likely. Any of them would be an improvement, but on different levels.
6. Interesting thought: would you trade Reimer and a 3rd round pick to Winnipeg for Ondrej Pavelec? Would they take it?