The Maple Leafs are in an all familiar spot in the standings since the lockout, out of a playoff position once again thanks in part to a dismal month of December that saw the club go 4-6-3 and in a tight Eastern Conference that sees 10 points separating 3rd place from 12th place in the Conference the Buds need to get their game back on track
The team plays nine out of their next ten games at home, in what amounts to a very crucial part of the season, if the Buds can claim the majority of points in these games it should see them vault back into a playoff spot. The one thing that has been glaring in the month of December is a horrible penalty kill and a lack of confidence at times with the lead. This team also needs to stop getting off to slow starts, as playing catch up is a recipe for disaster.
The Maple Leafs are one of the youngest clubs in hockey, if not the youngest at times along with the Predators, the club has a captain in Dion Phaneuf and what some would call veterans in Mike Komisarek and John Michael Liles but what this club lacks is a proven veteran leader or better called a "proven winner." This is something that all clubs require when they are making the leap to another level.
There are plenty of veteran (winner) leaders out there, Brian Burke is not a dumb man and knows the presence of such a stud could be the difference maker in not only seeing this club make the playoffs but possibly advancing a round or two. The Leafs of course would need to give up a roster player or two to land a player of this type and the most likely candidates to be packaged could very well be MacArthur, Schenn, Kadri and Grabovski (upcoming UFA), a draft pick or picks could also be part of any move.
There are some bona fide veterans that could be available for the right price a lot of these proven winners are Top players on their clubs so they wouldn't come cheap but can provide he guidance that a young club requires. This type of player will pay dividends to a club still in search of it's identity.
The club missed a great opportunity in signing 3 time Stanley Cup winner and PK specialist John Madden, who should provide the Florida Panthers exactly what the Leafs require a veteran leader.
These players are exactly what the club needs at this stage of their rebuild to get them to the next level.
34 years old ($7M a season cap hit, signed until 2013/14)
Is there a better leader in hockey? Iginla brings the sand paper this club needs, he scores, he hits, he fight and isn't afraid to get a little dirty. The two time Olympic gold medalist, World Cup winner, two time Richard award winner, Art Ross winner, Pearson winner and three time first team all star, oozes leadership.
What it would take to get him: MacArthur, Schenn and at least a 2nd round pick.
35 years old ($4.55M season cap hit, signed until 2012/13)
Doan has been the constant professional with the Coyotes, another power forward that goes out and plays hard every shift. The two time World Hockey Championship gold medal winner and World Cup winner, plays to win.
What it would take to get him: Kadri and at least a 2nd round pick.
27 years old ($8.25M season cap hit, signed until 2014/15)
Staal would be a major swoop for Burke, he is entering his prime and has already won a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal and a World Hockey Championship gold, with the Hurricanes looking at rebuilding and bleeding money, getting rid of his large contract would be ideal and the Leafs land their #1 center.
What it would take to get him: Grabovski, Schenn and a 1st Round pick.
(Columbus Blue Jackets)
27 years old ($7.8M season cap hit, signed until 2014/15)
Nash is another big winger entering the prime of his career, his time in Columbus could be coming to an end with the club, needing a full rebuild. Nash has won an Olympic Gold and World Hockey Championship Gold and Richard award winner. Has a player done so much for his club with so little to play with then Nash?
What it would take to get him: Kadri, Schenn and a 1st Round pick.
Martin St Louis
36 years old ($5.62M season cap hit, signed until 2014/15)
St Louis is all heart, how else do you explain the 5 foot 7 player dominating the league before the lock out and rule changes helping smaller players. St Louis has won a Stanley Cup, an Art Ross, Hart and Pearson Award and World Cup Title. The durable winger had not missed a game since the 2005/06 season before this season.
What it would take to get him: Schenn and at least a 2nd round pick.
(San Jose Sharks)
31 years old ($6.9M season cap hit, signed until 2014/15)
Marleau has a nose for the net and has won a World Cup Title, A World Hockey Championship and an Olympic Gold. Marleau can play wing or center and is another player in his prime.
What it would take to get him: Kadri and MacArthur.
Well Leafs Nation there you have it, a list of veteran players with leadership, that know what it is like to be part of a team that wins and are not going to sit back and ride any coat tails in getting their club where it needs to go. This Leafs Nation is what this young club needs and lacks at the moment.
Follow on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tmlfanfury
Check out our Blog: http://tmlfanfury.blogspot.com