Trader Cliff's opinion of the entry draft mirror's this neophytic blogger's feelings towards the constant worry over the logjam on the Leafs' blueline.
There isn't one. Nope. Not at all.
I think the reason for this perception stems from the fact that we've all been overwhelmed by the number of roster changes but a quick glance at the depth chart will alleviate our concerns.
1. Tomas Kaberle
Bona fide puck-moving d-man who won't shut down a top line but isn't a liability either. He can also score when he shoots, which is always a plus. Legitimate top pair guy.
2. Pavel Kubina
A solid d-man who no longer looks overpaid when one considers the number of zeroes that follow the 65 in Wade Redden's annual salary. (Woof) When he's hot he's hot and when he's off his game Howard and Damien have an easy day at the office. Not out of place on the first pairing.
3. Mike Van Ryn
This guy can be a good player if he stays healthy and can probably regain his form after missing most of last season but the three seasons before that were fairly healthy campaigns. I won't draft him onto my fantasy team but he will be a decent player on the second pairing and first pairing in a pinch.
4. Jeff Finger
Who knows? One can be optimistic or pessimistic but if he does end up playing to his salary it probably won't be until 09/10 because that's a lot of pressure on a man who is still in double-digits in NHL games played. Likely a reliable if unremarkable player who also fits the bill of a 3-4 guy.
5. Anton Stralman.
A younger, faster and more swedish version of Kaberle with plenty of upside but still a few defensive kinks. He'll make the team without much trouble and could be as good as a number 2 or 3 guy but will likely shoulder the offensive load for the 3rd pairing.
6. Carlo Colaiacovo
If he stays healthy he will certainly be able to handle eight minutes a game without looking too out of place as a 3rd pairing d-man. However, my adoration for Carlo aside that 'if' is a sizable one.
7. Ian White
A smallish, offensively minded player with some upside but certainly no shoo-in on the Leafs or many other NHL clubs. Love the guy, but he's not a lock for the big club and represents but a twig in this supposed logjam.
8. Staffan Kronwall
Not nearly as good as his older, and now very well-paid, brother Niklas. A good AHL player, a marginal NHL player and yet another piece of kindling amongst logs clogging up the Don. (Or is the Humber?)
(Yeah, Yeah, I know... what about Schenn... here you go.)
9. Luke Schenn
Money in the bank. (Can it you Habs trolls.) He'll be good some day but whether that day is in October '08 or October '11 I honestly don't think he'll be in the NHL on a regular 78-82 game basis until '09 or maybe even '10. Fletcher has consistently voiced his concerns about rushing young players like Luke and Howard's most recent blog confirms that Schenn is a long shot to be in that congested crowd of conifers that people are worried about. (Everybody knows that only forwards are deciduous. Why? A forward always 'leaves' their goalie out to dry.)
So there you have it. Six legitimate players for the NHL squad. Two injury replacements. One who may or may not play at all this year. It leaves room for injuries, it isn't obscenely under-talented, and the entire group costs somewhere south of 22 million per annum. An affordable and free-flowing collection of stumps to be sure.
The real logjam will be at the bottom of the Eastern conference where the Tavares/Hedman sweepstakes will really start to heat up in early March.