With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft less than 2 weeks away i thought it would be a good time to post my first blog and look at what I think Brian Burke and the Toronto Maple Leafs should do to improve their team. In the last few months the Leafs have been linked to several players and prospects but none moreso than Rick Nash, Roberto Luongo and most recently both top prospects Nail Yukapov and Alex Galchenyuk.
Lets do a quick refresher shall we, the Leafs hold the #5 overall pick in the draft this year behind Edmonton #1, Columbus #2, Montreal #3, and the NY Islanders #4. This year both Luongo and Nash have made it known that want out of their respective clubs, one due to the emergence of a younger number 1 goaltender and the other due to wanting to get off of a club who cant seem to win at all. They both have NMC (No movement clauses) however both have apparently handed in somewhat secret lists to their respective management teams of clubs they would waive their NMC's to go to, and naturally the Leafs are rumoured to be on both lists of course.
Now that brings us to the draft, this year it is one of the more wide open drafts, with several different mock drafts floating around the internet as no one can quite pin down who is going to go where. That being said with the Edmonton Oilers holding the #1 overall pick for a third straight year there seems to be a consensus that they may be willing to deal the pick to move down in the draft and fill a need with a defenseman who is most likely to be had a little further down the draft board. So the question becomes do the Leafs have what it takes to land the #1 overall pick, well sure they do but Brian Burke isnt going to pay the price that Tambellini wants without crippling the team. Therefore we have to move down the list to find a more suitable partner, and look who is at #2 overall, Columbus. If I was Brian Burke i would call up Scott Howson and at least offer the following deal:
Toronto Maple Leafs
#5 overall Pick
#35 overall Pick
Ben Scrivens RFA
Carl Gunnarson 1 year at 1.325 mill
Clarke Macarthur 1 year at 3.25 mill
Matthew Lombardi 1 year at 3.5 mill
Nazem Kadri 1 year at 1.72 mill
Columbus Blue Jackets
#2 overall Pick
Rick Nash 6 years at 7.8 mill
Now im positive that a bunch of you will claim this is not enough on the Leafs side or overpayment however I believe it is pretty close to what it would actually take to make this deal happen. With the #2 overall pick the Leafs would then take Alex Galchenyuk, getting the player with arguably the highest ceiling in the draft and the big centre that they desperately need.
This is a low risk deal for the Blue Jackets because they basically need everything and will get a quality player at #5 as well as only having one year left on the contracts of the players coming back in the deal giving them a window to either perform and resign them or get rid of them. From Toronto's perspective while Kadri is making progress, he needs a change of scenery and will likely turn into an average top 6 forward, MacArthur is a good player however is one of the most likely to be moved, Gunnarson will become expendable with the likely signing of Justin Schultz come July 1st and if for some reason they don't sign him the Leafs have a stash of young Dmen who can fill any holes up front. Lombardi is part of the deal because the jackets could use another speed player but need to take back a contract to counter balance Nash's large contract. Scrivens is simply a victim of numbers that i will explain shortly. The #5 and #35 picks are self explanatory.
Now with that deal out of the way, there is one more that I would make, to address the Leafs biggest glaring need, in between the pipes. Reimer may still eventually become the Number 1 guy but right now thats not enough, this year with Burkes contract up for renewal and the fans growing ever angry as the playoff drought reaches 8 years its time to bring in a legit Number 1 goaltender. That brings me to this trade offer:
Toronto Maple Leafs
Mike Komisarek 2yrs at 4.5 mill
2013 2nd Rounder
Tim Conolly 1yr at 4.75 mill
Roberto Luongo 10 yrs at 5.33 mill
Yes Canucks fans you will have to take salary back wether you like it or not, your not in any real position to bargain and GM Mike Gillis will ultimately have to take what he can get because he can't keep Luongo in Vancouver after he publically asked to be traded. Komisarek is actually not to bad, just not at 4.5 mill and Conolly is not the player Burke had envisioned when they signed him and only has 1 year left on his deal.
While there might be some more tinkering done in the summer, the signing of Justin Schultz, after that I am happy with the team assembled and would most likely see playoff hockey for the first time in almost decade in TO. The opening night roster would look something like this:
This scenario Likely.... no but its fun to try and deleve into the minds of NHL GM's. Time will tell, happy offseason everyone.