After posting my 2010 Mock Offseason for the Vancouver Canucks on the weekend, I received a few emails from readers asking for my take on their favourite club. Naturally, a significant portion of these messages were from Leafs fans. I decided to tackle the Leafs for other reasons besides the numerous requests – the Tomas Kaberle saga, the need for offense, and Dion Phaneuf’s swagger all drew me to Toronto’s offseason situation.


Right now, the Leafs have a lot of holes up front, a lot of high-paid defensemen, and a stable goaltending situation.


The current roster (as of June 21st):


Viktor Stalberg $850k Tyler Bozak $3.7 mill Phil Kessel $5.4 mill
Nikolai Kulemin RFA Mikhail Grabovski $2.9 mill Darcy Tucker's buyout $1 mill
Luca Caputi $833k John Mitchell RFA Colton Orr $1 mill
Fredrik Sjostrom $750k Christian Hanson RFA

Dion Phaneuf $6.5 mill Mike Komisarek $4.5 mill

Tomas Kaberle $4.2 mill Luke Schenn $2.9 mill

Carl Gunnarsson $800k Francois Beauchemin $3.8 mill

Jeff Finger $3.5 mill

JS Giguere $6 mill

Jonas Gustavsson $1.3 mill

Total $49.9 mill


As of right now, the second best RW on Toronto's roster is Darcy Tucker's buyout. Lots of work ahead for Burke and Nonis...


What I would do:


1) Trade Mikael Grabovski and a draft pick to Dallas for Mike Ribeiro. The Leafs could probably acquire Ribeiro for a relatively low price because of his $5 million cap hit. Ribeiro has developed into a very solid top line center since being traded away from Montreal a few years ago. He is a great distributor with the puck and would fit in nicely alongside Phil Kessel.  The Leafs may be better off targeting a free agent center like Patrick Marleau, but he is going to cost significantly more than $5 million per season. Ribeiro is an elite offensive talent and would provide an immediate boost to Toronto’s power play. He may not fit the mould of a Brian Burke type of player, and for whatever reason people still underrate him because of some of his childish antics from his Montreal days. Dallas does this deal to save cap space. It also opens up a spot on the second line for Jamie Benn to move. Grabovski is overpaid but he is a versatile forward that can slide around on the top three lines. The real value for Dallas in this trade is the cap space.


2) Trade Tomas Kaberle to Buffalo for Zach Kassian and Drew Stafford. Kassian is a hell of a prospect that projects as a hard-hitting second line scorer. Stafford brings more skill to a lineup that needs it. He regressed to 14 goals in 2009-10 after scoring 20 the season before, and a change of scenery may be just what he needs to get back on track. Kaberle fills a huge need for the Sabres, who would love to add another defenseman who can move the puck.


3) Trade Luca Caputi and James Reimer to Chicago for Brent Sopel and Andrew Ladd. Ladd is the prize here obviously.  The Blackhawks would love to get rid of Sopel’s contract, even after his strong playoff run. Caputi is the closest to being NHL ready. Reimer, Toronto’s 4th round draft pick from 2006, would add depth to Chicago’s goalie pipeline. Ladd has some upside too, he just hasn’t been given offensive minutes to produce over the past few years in Chicago. Sopel played under both Brian Burke and Dave Nonis in Vancouver.


4) Banish Jeff Finger to Siberia. Waive him, trade him, find a way to get him off the roster. He's a decent defenseman but is overpaid by about $2 million.


5) Re-sign Nikolai Kulemin. Kulemin is playing hardball right now, but that usually doesn’t work well with Brian Burke (see Peter Schaefer). Kulemin will come around and sign a two-year extension for $5 million.


6) Sign Adam Burish. Grit, energy, intensity, he brings it all.


7) Give Carl Gunnarsson a bigger role. This isn’t an acquisition as so much as a tip for Ron Wilson. Gunnarsson was Toronto’s best defenseman on many nights last season. He can skate, shoot, and defend. Get him more minutes! Bringing back Mike Van Ryn at a very reduced rate would be a great low-risk, high-reward move for the Leafs to make.


The final roster:


Andrew Ladd $2 mill Mike Ribeiro $5 mill Phil Kessel $5.4 mill
Nikolai Kulemin $2.5 mill Tyler Bozak $3.7 mill Drew Stafford $1.9 million
Viktor Stalberg $850k Nazem Kadri $1.7 mill Adam Burish $1.25 mill
Fredrik Sjostrom $750k Chistian Hanson $900k Colton Orr $1 mill

John Mitchell $650k Darcy Tucker's buyout
$1 mill

Dion Phaneuf $6.5 mill Mike Komisarek $4.5 mill

Francois Beauchemin $3.8 mill Luke Schenn $2.9 mill

Carl Gunnarsson $800k Brent Sopel $2.2 mill

Mike Van Ryn $750k

JS Giguere $6 mill

Jonas Gustavsson $1.3 mill

Total $57.35 mill


Is this at all unrealistic? Some of the trades may be a bit of a stretch (The Stars may not want Grabovski, and Siberia may feel the same way about Finger). However, it addresses two of Toronto’s biggest need – size skill up front. The Leafs have a great defensive group on paper, they just need to play like it on the ice. It would also be contingent on the salary cap rising. A significant portion of Toronto’s allocated cap space is tied up in bonus money (Bozak, Schenn, and Kadri). Both Ladd and Stafford have some offensive upside, and the key will be giving them minutes in the right situations (power play, for example) to help with that development.

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Comments (8)add comment

Larry said:

... $4mil for Bozak is still a huge overpay. Wilson/Marleau feud is well known.Wilson has a tendency to call out his players in the media- and did so to his captain Marleau frequently.I believe it was Wilson that stripped him of the 'C' as well.
June 23, 2010
Votes: +0

angus said:

... Terrific young forward. Most of that contract is tied up in bonuses, as he was a highly-sought after NCAA free agent last summer.

Skates well, sees the ice well, has fantastic hands. Very smart player.
June 22, 2010
Votes: +1

david said:

... not to be a jerk or anything, but who the hell is Bozak and why is he making $4M?
June 22, 2010
Votes: -1

kats_tml said:

... Also to "Karlos"

Yes Marleau had his worst season under Wilson, as it is well known. But Im sure you didn't know Marleau had his best season under Wilson too. And where did you hear about this "butted" head thing??? It's a great rumour I agree, just give me a link to verify.

June 22, 2010
Votes: -1

kats_tml said:

... First you said Kaberle would get traded for Clarkson and a pick, now its Kassian and Stafford?? I really think you are underating what Kaberle will fetch the leafs.

June 22, 2010
Votes: -1

Karlos El Taco Piquante said:

... Marleau had his worst season under Wilson and butted heads with him like crazy in SJ. Not seeing that acquisition unless Wilson gets canned. Just my opinion though...
June 21, 2010
Votes: +0

praba said:

... i think if the leafs trade away any more draft picks the media/fans will go insane...but i do agree the leafs should go after ribeiro. also, i would not trade caputi, even if it is a deal for ladd. the leafs cant afford trading away young players at this stage. riemer + something for ladd + sopel would work though. i dont know who kaberle is going to land us but i really hope it's a good return.
June 21, 2010
Votes: +0

Canuckk said:

... Not sure about your cap math here... where did Tucker's buyout cost go? And by banishing Finger to Siberia, do you mean the AHL? Cause that's the only way he's coming off the cap completely. And Ladd is an RFA, and I doubt he'd sign with the Leafs for $2 million. He'd take a discount to stay with the Hawks I bet, but if he were traded, he'd certainly demand more.

I like the proposal overall though. That roster could actually contend for a playoff spot and is pretty solid at all positions. Though I don't approve of Kadri on the third line. If he doesn't get a top-six role, it'll probably hurt his development somewhat to stay on the team. He'd be better off spending another year in junior (since the AHL isn't an option).

And I have a feeling Dallas won't want Grabovski in return for Ribeiro. Their asking price will probably be Kaberle and a pick or something like that. He's still a good hockey player and I highly doubt Grabovski and a pick would be enough to stay the Stars to trade him. Besides, why replace one centre with another, worse centre? Kind of negates your point about Benn getting a top-six spot. And Marleau will definitely not sign with the Leafs, according to my gut.
June 21, 2010
Votes: -1
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