Taking a look at the potential line up and who will be contributing to the overall rebuild next year and years to come it gives us a better idea of what trades will happen now and in the off season. I don't see any rush in trading guys with term left as I see them helping the kids in a mentor ship type role. Take Lupul and Bozak for example, we can almost guarantee Lupul will get hurt at some point so why buy him out as this give short stints of NHL experience to young prospects to better develop them for the future. On top of that the potential of LTIR cap relief could help out in the future. Bozak has proven to be a hard working two way centre that could help the likes of Marner/Nylander with face off development and realistically he will be gone via trade or free agency before you have to give his money to a guy like Nylander. By keeping the veterans and plugging in the kids when they are ready is the way to build championship teams. There is true competition for the open spots with the ability to proper develop these guys in the minors and this will start making Toronto a more desirable place to play. So here is my forward line up for next year.
Open - Kadri - Komarov
JVR - Nylander - Open
Marner - Bozak - Lupul
Holland - Winnick - open
Nylander deserves to be in the NHL, Marner can't learn anything in the OHL so they are almost locks to be with the leafs next year. Kadri should be signed to a multi year deal as cheap as possible. Signing RFA Holland to a cheap deal with little term is a good effective way to fill out your NHL roster with cheap experienced players. That leaves 3 open positions to be filled with an internal candidate or a free agent that can be flipped for draft picks to help sustain the big picture of multiple championships.
Here are the guys I see being the top internal candidates for the open positions.
I believe that the Shanaplan will call for at least one of the open spots to be filled with an outside reclamation project that can flipped for draft picks so that doesn't leave a lot of room for the kids. Good thing most of those kids are with us for a few years and we can control our own destiny.
Looking at the defence I don't see a lot of changeover unless some trades are made. Polak is a given to be moved this trade deadline. I think it will be really tough to get guys like Hamonic/Shattenkirk so I'm just rolling with what we got right now.
Hunwick - Reilly
Phanuef - Gardiner
Corrado - Marincin
That's pretty underwhelming to say the least but one more year of Hunwick and we can trade him for draft picks and then Marincin and Corrado are basically on show me contracts so not much risk there. The bigger issue here is the potential internal candidates aren't top tier prospects either with exception to Dermott who is at least 3 years from NHL service. Below are the up and comers who could potentially help in the near future.
With all that laid out there it gives us an idea of trades that will happen this year. Lou will be working hard to flip all the UFA's for draft picks because there really isn't any room for them next year. To help generate more return there realistically only 3 Toronto Marlies I would trade to add to the asset return and they are; Matt Frattin, Mark Arcobello, TJ Brennan. I wouldn't want to see the Marlies dismantled to much as the Calder cup run will be beneficial for all the young guys future development but I could see Arcobello and Brennan helping out the return so it's worth the exploration.
I have also listed the potential trade baits for the 2017 trade deadline or off season moves.
As you can see Lou has plenty to work with to help flood the development system with good high end talent this year and next but then we should be looking at competing and the draft picks are going to dry up and become harder to bring in so making sure we hit a home run in the draft the next two years is going to be an absolute must to make future championships a reality.
A realistic look shows there is no panic to move the likes of Bozak, Lupul, Phanuef and keeping guys like JVR, Komarov, Kadri is a positive thing. I'm not going to sit here and tell you what we will get in return but I will tell you the future is bright. We have a decent start to stocking the cupboards with high end talent and hopefully Lou can work his magic and give Mark Hunter the assess necessary to be a difference maker at the draft.