If the season were to start tonight, with the players we currently have, how would you think the lineup would look? These are my personal thoughts.
our "first" (and i use that term loosely, it qualifies as a second line for most teams) line
Kulemin- Grabovski- poni
last year i liked this line better than the one with hagman, so thats why i went with it. Plus hagman can play a burke/RW style 3rd line a bit too... poni cant
2nd line- Blake- Bozak - Tlusty
Tlusty earned his right to get a shot last year with the marlies, blake had a comeback year last year and Bozak is a good young skilled player, who reminds me of dominic moore with more of an upside and i think he'll have great chemistry with blake. Even if Bozak struggles early i see burkie giving him time to work things out, as he's the only other real 2nd line centre i see on this team right now (kadri is going back to london)
3rd line- Wallin- Mitchell- Hagman
with the aquisition of primeau you have to slide one of mitchell/wallin/primeau to the wing. I moved wallin, but it could go either way. Im putting primeau on the 4th to save his body so he can kill penalties all season and not get hurt after 20 games. hagman has proved he can grind it out if need be. Decent offensive upside on this line too.
4th- Orr- Primeau - Stajan
Orr and Primeau are pretty obvious for this line. Stajan is out on the wing here because I like having him on this team for versatility. He's not a top6 forward like some people think he is. He's a solid 3rd/4th liner, who with a set role for once i think could surprise people. He's an ideal injury fill-in. Unfortunatly for him theres not much room in the Bottom 6 for him this year so he'll have to earn it all.
healthy scratches: stempniak, mayers. Stempniak can fill in up front in the top 6 if injuries or people arent playing hard. Maybe sitting in the pressbox will actually light that fire under him again. Hes not a bad player hes just lazy. Mayers is well mayers. good leader, can fight a bit... best role is going to be 4th line.
young guns who could see action:
Stalberg- has to play top 6 to be effective. could get call up if a trade occurs or injury. Must show he can adjust to Pro hockey.
Hanson- i personally project him as more a 3rd liner guy to start, who may be able to move up to the 2nd line later on (kinda like maxime talbot). I liked the edge he played with. big big kid tons of potential. I hope he comes back up to play with the big club sometime this year (ps they are making him a winger, so enough about this centre stuff... he can fill in at centre in a pinch tho which just helps his versatility).
tim brent - i've seen him play since his days in junior and i have a soft spot for this kid. He works hard and i think he can surprise people under the right system. i see him as pulling another john Mitchell, where hes not flashy he just does his job well. (he's a solid 4th line energy guy)
kaberle is our best PMD. Komi played with markov in montreal, seems like a perfect fit to me.
both make great first passes. I could see schenn surprising people with his ability to move the puck. You caught glimpses of it last year, and with a year of seasoning and RW taking the training wheels off he may surprise people.
(against a one-line only type team i could see a komi-schenn shutdown pairing)
white was one of our better d-men last year (even team canada thought so) and you have to love XLB toughness. MVR/Finger will be around waiting for someone to struggle. tho with MVR skill, if some forwards are moved look for MVR to play and white to play some forward while playing d on the PP
self explanitory, whoever plays well plays. i think tosk has a comeback year, and might get traded at the deadline, if the monster looks ready and we arent close to the playoffs
so in the end i think we have an alright team at the moment but i still would like to see some players moved because i love the young guys coming up right now. I think MVR or finger and then frogren should be traded still for whatever you can get. keep white his mustache is too valuable to this team. trade stempniak, mayers... look into trading poni, stajan, maybe primeau or even hagman if the return is good enough sometime throughout the season when other teams get injured or are looking for that missing peice. I personally don't see playoffs this year and I don't think we should hang onto pending UFA's just to make the 8th seed. give the kids room to grow. I think the biggest test of all this year for the leafs is seeing if the fans can make it through the season without giving up on the young kids who arent scoring 50 goals already...