Disclaimer: I don't know much about the contracts of each of the players. I know there are a good # that are FA but I'm not sure who they all are. This is a scenario built around the fact that the FA pool isn't very good this year and assuming many of these guys are re-signed cause there won't be many great options in the FA market.
I was going through all the players the Leafs have ON the team...not including prospects. And I don't really know what Burke can do. But this is what I see happening to the team for next season...And unfortunately it doesn't look all that different.
Keep in mind that this DOES NOT include players like Bozak, Hanson, Kadri, Stalberg. They very well could be on the team, which means some of the players I see sticking around MAY be moved, waived or something else. But for this little excerise let's pretend that NONE of them will be playing next year...and yes I know that at least 2 of them probably will be.
I think it will probably be the same for the most part. There may be a few of the extra's who will be moved in one way or another but for the most part they will probably be the same.
It's too bad Van Ryn is so injury prone, in the few games he's played as a Leaf he's played really well, and I hope his knee surgery doesn't end his career, but I think as a Leaf he is probably done. If they do get rid of anyone else from the D it's probably XLB. He hasn't played very many games, and hasn't played very well when he HAS played so there really is no point in keeping him. However, can we get anything for him becomes the question, if not I don't see it being a problem since we do have a fair number of d-men right now.
I don't see them giving up Kaberle. He's too good in my opiniong why get rid of someone who's one of the ONLY consistant players on the team. He's regained his excellent play. I know a lot of people want him gone for prospects and picks and such, but I don't agree. Yes we'll get some good players in return, but the odds of another Kaberle are very odd. Even being stuck in a losing environment hasn't been a bad thing for him. He still plays at the top of his game.
Komisarek and Bauch aren't going anywhere. While they haven't been playing to the level they were brought in expecting to play they have picked it up since the start of the season...for the most part. Komisarek is finally being the hitter he was expected to be and he's blocking shots...both are the things he was brought in to do. Beauch had a brutal start but has started to play better as time goes along. It took him a long time to get the feel of the new team but now that he is getting there I think it would be a good idea to keep him around. He is a good defensman who just needed time to get re-adjusted. Keep in mind he was on a Western Conference team, and the West does play a different game than the East so he also needed to adjust to that.
Schenn I can say with confidence is going nowhere. He's home grown and has a ton of potential and a ton of time to develop. He's only in his second year. And he has started to get better as the year's gone along. He isn't playing like he did last year but I believe he'll get back to it.
Finger probably isn't going anywhere either simply because of the contract he signed, he hasn't played up to it enough to warrent anyone taking it from us.
White will still be here because like Kaberle he's playing consistantly and VERY well...especially considering he was a 6th round draft pick...the odds of getting another 6th rounder who can play the way Ian has is VERY unlikely.
Onto the forward crop...this is where it gets messy:
I have a feeling Poni and Stajan will STILL be here...but ONLY if they get other scorers somehow which makes them play on the 3rd line. They aren't as defensive as Burke wants the 3rd liners to be...however Poni is big and if they take him out of an offensive role and have him focus on playing a 3rd line role instead of expecting him to score a ton he may be able to do it, no guarantees however. Stajan isn't really a 3rd liner either, but he has shown signs (albeit rarely) of being able to rough it up in the corners, and if he can do that regularily he may be ok in a less offensive role. And I don't think replacing them will be difficult, we do have Kadri, Stalberg, Bozak and Hanson...which means these Stajan and Poni could be bumped down a couple lines, but ONLY if they play defensively...and if they can't learn to do that then I say move them anyways.
Blake's contract is still an issue and I don't see him going anywhere.
Kessel obviously will still be here.
Hagman is actually playing well and I hope he stays because he has the ability to take pressure off Kessel as the only scorer...he just needs to do it regularily.
I think Kulemin will still be around especially since he seems to have figured out his role as a defensive player and no so offensive and he's doing it well.
Stempniak is hard to say, he isn't very consistant, but he's OK, if he goes it won't be for much but it also won't hurt us. I think he will be gone, and we don't need to worry about getting a replacement for him since we do have some upcoming talent in the system.
Grabovsky will most likely be around still, we all know he CAN be good he just has to calm down with the puck. But if Wilson can't get that message through he'll continue turning pucks over which could lead to him being shipped out...if we can find someone to take him. Although if he can start making the dump in plays instead of trying fancy ones I say keep him.
Jamal Mayers should be gone, he may be a good leader in the locker room (he may not I don't know) but we need leaders who can lead by example on AND off the ice, not just off).
Orr probably will be around next year, mainly cause we won't get much for him, and if he gets his hitting game going he CAN potentially be a help to the team, he just hasn't really done that yet. Again like Stempniak it won't hurt us to get rid of him with players in the system to bring up.
Wallin will still be here for 2 reasons, to make sure Gustavsson resigns (I don't know his contract stipulations all I know is it's only a 1 year but don't know what happens afterwards) and Wallin is pretty good defensively, he's one of the more reliable in our own zone.
Wayne Primeau will likely be gone. He hasn't really brought much to us...and like Mayers, Stempniak and a few others is easily replaceable.
Goaltending...even worse than the forwards to try and predict:
Toskala unfortunately will probably still be here, but more than likely as the back up, mainly because finding someone to take on the worst goalie in the NHL with the terribly high salary he has is next to impossible.
Gustavsson I hope will be back. Like I said earlier I don't know what his contract stipulations are in terms of what happens after this year. I think they'll be able to re-sign him though, especially since he more than likely will be the starter.
If we do lose 1 of them...preferably Toskala...then we have the question as to who we get in that place. We COULD bring up Joey or James and I think having James back up Jonas might be the best thing for him. I honestly think keeping Pogge in the minors as long as we did is what hurt him. He wasn't even getting enough playing time down there...and I don't want that to happen to Reimer as well. At least if he's the back up in the NHL he'll get the experience of witnessing the speed of the NHL as well as the occasional start to slowly get the feel of playing in that speed.
What do you think? I'm obviously no NHL GM but this is what I see. There are a ton of unknowns however, like if there are teams who are interested in players we don't want, which can totally change things. And of course this is just my opinion, if you have an opinion on any of the players that differs from mine, then please let me know, different perspectives is always a good thing.
I have been made aware that Pogge DID play a good number of games for the Marlies and I was incorrect about that fact. I do still think that Reimer should back up Gustavsson next year...maybe getting more starts than a normal back-up would to take the load off of what would only be a second year goalie...and getting Reimer good experience in the NHL