There has been much crash and bang about the Leafs moves so far this off season. Signings, buyouts and trades, especially of the draft picks involved. Here is my opinion of the moves thus far. Just keep in mind that an opinion is like an anus, everyone has one and you really only care about your own.....Now mine.
Tucker - $1 million cap hit for the next 6 seasons.
Raycroft - $533, 333 for the first year and $733, 333 the following year.
Jospeh - $700, 000. If you argue this signing you really are not a Leaf fan. A class act who can really help some of the younger guys on the team. A possible goaltending coach to Pogge in the future.
Hagman - $ 3 million. Slightly overpaid, but a very durable forward missing only 13 games since the 01-02 season. Great fore checking forward who will be good for 20 goals.
Finger - $3.5 Million. Definitely overpaid this coming season. This signing will make Fletcher look one of two ways; Senile or Genius, I'll go out on a limb and suggest the latter. I believe that by the end of Finger's second season we will be saying we have a bargain.
Dominic Moore - $900, 000. A solid defensive player who can put a couple of pucks in the net. I would suggest he will be a great penalty killer and net us 10+ goals this coming season.
Schenn - Although he was a draft pick we traded up to get him. As a potential stud and Captain on the blue line giving up a second and a third doesn't bother me.
Grabovski - A second round pick in 2010. Not too sure what to make of this trade, if he sticks for a full season this year or next then I am ok with it. There are not many second round picks that you can have in your line up right away so for the re-build process adding a 24 year old who can play is a good move.
So as it stands now here is the depth chart
Kulemin - Antropov - Ponikarovsky
Steen - Stajan - Hagman
Blake - Grabovski - Bell
Devereaux - Tlusty - Mayers
Newbury - Moore - Earl
Williams - Boyce - Foster
McCabe - Kaberle
Kubina - Colaiacovo
Finger - Stralman
White - Kronwall
Oreskovic - Schenn
As you can tell we have a severe log jam on the team, with a lot of third and fourth line type players. The Leafs will have to do some deck shuffling to get their house in order for the upcoming season.
We all know that McCabe will not be in the line-up opening night, and that Kubina is likely to be moved. That will clear up a lot of space, 10.75 million depending on what the return is.
Here is what I would do:
I would make a trade with Philly who is just over the cap by 1 million. Acquiring Scott Hartnell, Derian Hatcher and a 3rd round draft choice for Pavel Kubina, Bates Battaglia and a 7th round draft choice. Then immediately waive Hatcher.
This moves saves Philly $2 million in cap space and shores up their back end. It gives Toronto a solid 20+ goal man who has grit and heart to spare. Hartnell is a 26 year old Tucker on 6'2 frame.
Trade Ian White to Dallas for Steve Ott. Dallas is in need of defence and they signed Sean Avery so Ott is expendable saving Dallas $500, 000.
Trade Ponikarovsky to Phoenix for Carcillo. Having acquired McGratton from Ottawa makes Carcillo expendable. Ponikarovsky's $2 million cap hit will help them reach the floor.
My Opening night Line-up:
Kulemin - Antropov - Steen
Blake - Stajan - Hagman
Hartnell - Grabovski - Bell
Carcillo - Ott - Mayers
Kaberle - Colaiacovo
Finger - Stralman
Kronwall - Oreskovic (Hatcher if no one picks him off waivers)
There are moves to be made at the deadline, Antropov, Bell, Kaberle, Colaiacovo, Mayers and possibly Blake. After seeing the core of this group really change and his buddy McCabe gone Kaberle may be willing to waive his NTC, especially because his NTC expires at seasons end if they do not make the playoffs similar to Pavel Kubina's.
Kaberle alone could fetch us a king's ransom at the deadline. He makes 4.25 for two more full seasons after 08/09. With Boyle making 6.7 and Campbell at 7.1 Kabby is a great deal and could fetch a good young roster player and a first round pick.
Antropov could net us a either a good young roster player OR a first round pick.
The Leafs could conceivably have 3 first round selections in the '09 draft. They could use one of those selections to make up a package for a solid RFA like Eric Staal, Jordan Staal, Jack Johnson or Anze Kopitar.
All in all the Re-build has not gone as many Leaf fans had hoped but there is a silver lining and we cannot judge the re-build until after July 1, 2009 when the Leafs could look a whole lot scarier.
As a Leaf fan I have gotten used to dreaming, it is all we have.