With the Leafs year one game plan working out as perfect as possible, its time to turn to year 2 of the plan. Now will be the tough part. Fans expected the tough season in rebuilding. We got rewarded with the first overall pick and a bunch of extra picks added in from shrewd trades.
Now is the time to continue being patience. The prospect cupboard is growing but still not at the point where there is a surplus to deal them out. Once they start filling out roster spots, and finding out which ones don't pan out, there will be little to add into deals to add for the now when the time comes.
This year will be the big test for the leafs if they can stick with the plan. they've done most of the work shedding bad contracts, but still have a few still on the books. It's key to figure out to do with the likes of Lupul, Clarkson, Michalek, Bozak, and Robidas. Having so much money tied up to LTIR or 3rd/4th line roles severely hamper future moves. We can afford to roll with it for one more year but if we want to add in free agency the money will dry up quickly.
LTIR helps only during the season it counts against the cap in the summer. So it will limit what can be done in free agency. It won't affect going after a Steven Stamkos, but will affect if they want to add another player this year or next.
That is why patience will the key this year. This will be the most painful year. Fans will want to see progress. They will expect the young rookies to come in and immediately light the league on fire. They will expect the Leafs to add a big name free agent like Stamkos, Kyle Okposo, or Jimmy Vesey.
The keys to year 2 will be this
1. Draft well and add as many picks as possible
2. Move or buy out one of the bad contract to add space for the future
3. Take a run at ONE of the big free agents, but don't get bent out of shape chasing them
4. Add more project/reclamation players like Parenteau again to turn into futures and to fill spots if prospects are ready
5. Make Toronto a place where top free agents want to join to win
The time to blow it up is over, now is the slow build. The base has build built, need to be reinforced so its a continuous flow. Adding a few pieces to lead the way.