Or is the team a lot closer than most people seem to think?
This is just a rough draft ... sorry for misspellings (if any), but to me, this team isn't that far off top 6 in the conference!
Blake Grabovski Stajan
Tlusty Ponikarovsky Kulemin
Stempniak Bozak Mitchell
Orr Mayers Hanson
Van Ryn Finger
*=if not Gustavson
This list doesn't include Hollweg, White, Frogren, Stralman, the other Mitchell, Didomenico, or Kadri.
Now before I send everyone into a comment-frenzy stating how this team has no shot, let me clarify my stance.
First of all, Toskala has to be better for this to happen. Plain and simple. I fully expect the Leafs to bid him adieu if he doesn't step up this season anyways, and the same applies to Pogge I am sure, but the fact is, he CAN be a top-flight goalie in this league, and if the Leafs end up with Gustavson, they'll have two goalies who CAN be great, the question is if they WILL be.
Second of all, and the most glaring gap, top caliber scoring forwards. Now I am a firm believer in the fact that defensemen should play defense in their own end and let the forwards worry about the offense. On that note, I think that Kaberle could be peddled for at the very least a top line forward straight up, or ideally, a top line prospect, a top 6 established foward and a 2nd - 4th rounder. Granted Kaberle is no Pronger, but with the price tag that was paid for his services in Philly, Kaberle should be able to garner the Leafs a healthy return.
Third of all, I expect this defensive group to be one of the hardest to play against night-in and night-out. The Leafs have 4 of the top 30 defensemen in hits from the last season under contract now in Finger, Schenn and new acquisitions Komisarek and Exelby so one would be hard-pressed to say that teams will be excited to play against the Leafs, especially considering that all 4 of these players cracked the top 30 and not one of them played over 70 games.
Fourth of all, the team was 10th in the league in goals for last year, so the offense wasn't the problem, it seems to rarely be the biggest problem for the Leafs the last half decade.
Fifth, and last of all, this team will come together better than any post-lockout team, mark my words. With as many as 7 players in the lineup on a regular basis that are more than happy to drop their gloves to the ice and punch anyone in the face that is willing to join them, this team will form a bond quickly, and will be able to rely on one-another more than any other in recent memory.
All in all, I know I am going to receive ample flak for this blog, and my views, but I hold relatively high expectations for this group. I know the team is rebuilding through the draft, but I genuinely think that Burke has set this team up for a chance to be in every game, every night. I'm excited to see the results, and barring some sort of disastrous trade or injury bug, I fully expect this team to be in the playoffs next year.
Leafs nation, we WILL feel the electricity of the playoffs once again come the spring!
I anxiously await the feedback, so let me have it!
The leafs will be competitive in the games but will ultimately not be anywhere near top 6 in the conference this year even if Toskala returns to form. Your setting yourself up for a huge disappointment if you think the leafs are going to finish anywhere near the top 6 in the east.
that team is along ways from the top six they will be picking in the top ten or five in 2010 draft maybe taylor hall but more likley the the 6or7 pick again
my only comment on this is that stajan will not be in the lineup. he better hope that burke finds a taker because if not he'll be in the minor's. i love the compitition he's created already, if you don't play hard you won't be playing for this team.
9 of the 20 names mentioned are way too soft. we all know burke wants to get tough, so I don't think the tinkering is close to being complete for this season. we're all just waiting to see what the leafs can swap for kaberle, and maybe drop some of the soft guys still on the roster
As a Leaf fan, I can only say dream on mate. As is typical of this town, as soon as the team does something good everyone gets big headed about it... this team has more holes than assets right now which is why this team isn't headed anywhere anytime fast.
I mentioned in an earlier blog that Burke's big plan was to ensure that this team was competitive at the very latest, in 2 years time. His move at the free agent frenzy proved that was the case - not dipping for expensive talent whle not ripping out his core youth.
The goaltending is a big issue - how can you be sure that Pogge is a bonafied starter in the NHL? If Burke was so sure, he wouldn't have spent an entire day in Sweden trying to convince a grieving Gustavson, mourning his diseased mother, that coming to Toronto was the best option - smells of desperation, no?
And finally, one thing that everyone seems to miss out about the defense - it's tougher to play aginst now, but just becuse you can hit and grind and play a tough game, it doesn't make you a good defensive team that's for sure.
umm... D is ok (pending they don't trade Kaberle, as there aren't many puck movers in that group), goaltending potential to be good with a bounce back year from toskala...HOwever, grabovski is the only proven skilled forward in that top 6 that can create plays. Leafs PP will be amongst the league worst, and they will struggle to score if that's the top 6 come september....
So to conclude as the first poster said - you are seriously setting yoruself up for disappointment. This team is nowhere near ready to be competitive.
We won't know till the season starts where we stand. Let's hope everything works out for the best and if not we can get a chance at the Hall kid. BUT I can only handle 1 more year of the B.S. then we better be a contender or i'm going to lose my mind.
There's no offensive talent. Grabovsky, Kulemin and Tlusty are the only three listed that could surprise and hit 60 pts. Ponikarovsky is likely 50, Stajan is 45, Blake between 40 and 55... but the rest of those forwards are not likely to do much more than 30.
should go after kovalev piss the habs off some more and bring in some offense talent
Dude, you don't even have Hagman in that lineup, he's on the second line for sure.
There is some talent, but they are too young and do not have a proven go to line. The defense is thin, once Kaberle is moved. Give Burke 2 more years and you will all love the team he puts on the ice. Give him time.