FanPost

Being Brian Burke - The 2009-10 Maple Leafs

Editor's Note: Any stroll through the fanpost section of this site will reveal a number of quality posts from 1967ers' look at collecting hockey cards to 1967ers' examination of Toronto's pre-NHL hockey history all the way to 1967ers' Leaf of the Day series. Just kidding, take a gander around the SBN megaverse and I think it's safe to say that our little group has the best fanposts out of the bunch. We're putting together some stories that will help you make the best out of all of the tools to share your opinion that SBN's platform provides you with but for now here is a great example of using a fanpost to express your thoughts about the Leafs.

A slow morning at work has provided me with the opportunity to post my response to the brilliant challenge by plan the parade one more time. So here's my humble attempt. Kudos to the men who have to do this for a living; it was certainly a bit more difficult than I would have expected. (All figures are cap numbers, courtesy of nhlscap.com, nhlnumberscom, and my own imagination.)

Goaltenders
Vesa Toskala, 4.0M, expires 2010: This might well be Vesa's last chance to prove he's a starting goaltender in the NHL. Hopefully the fact that it's a contract year will bring it out of him.

Jonas Gustavsson, 2.975M, expires 2012: I firmly believe Burke will land the Monster. However, after the Frogren fiasco, I have no idea how his contract is supposed to be handled. To be safe, we'll give him a 3-year contract at the rookie max.

Defence
Tomas Kaberle, 4.25M, expires 2011
Luke Schenn, 2.975M, expires 2011

One thing I really noticed this playoffs is you need an elite puck-moving defenceman to make a serious run. Once Francois Beauchemin signs a new deal somewhere, we'll have the most economical option in Tomas Kaberle. I've paired him with Luke Schenn on the first unit for two reasons. The first is that this will give Kabby a lot more freedom to attack offensively, with a solid defence-first guy like Schenn backing him up...The second is so that we keep putting Luke Schenn in situations where he will grow as a player. Making him a top 2 defenceman means that he'll play in several situations next year, and will play around 24 minutes a night. I think we'll see a big jump in development from OLAS, after an offseason of NHL conditioning.

Mike Van Ryn, 2.9M, expires 2010
Jared Cowen, 2.975M, expires 2012

Please stay healthy, Mike. You're a reasonable option for our No. 3 defenceman, and I'd love to see the Damien Cox article mentioning your strong play, to see whether he refers to his past article where he applauded the deal or the one where he panned it.Speaking of Damien, you're damn right I'm putting Cowan on the roster. Try as he might, I think Burke will realize that Tavares isn't worth everything resembling a NHL prospect we have, and will stay put at No. 7, drafting this kid. I fully expect him to make the team out of camp a la Schenn, and I support any roster move with the potential to make the Omen's head explode.

Jeff Finger, 3.5M, expires 2012
Ian White, 0.85M, expires 2010

Ridiculous contract aside, Jeff was one of those guys you never really noticed last season. And when you're a defensive defenceman playing on a team that gave up the most goals in the league, that's a good thing. As for White, long live the moustache.

Jonas Frogren, 1.065M, expires 2010: I'm sure Jonas will get plenty of playing time this season, but for now he's my number 7 d-man.

Forwards

Niklas Hagman, 3.0M, expires 2012
Mikhail Grabovski, 2.667M, expires 2012
Nikolai Kulemin, 1.488M, expires 2010

My first line by default, I'm looking forward to another year of Man Grabs Lemon. I think with a year of NHL experience under their belts, Grabbo and Kulemin will be a little more consistent, and keeping them with their main linemate last year will probably help that along. Grabovski has been re-signed for 3 years at $8 million, paying 2.5M the next two years and $3M in 2011-2012.

Victor Stahlberg, 0.875M, expires 2012
Jiri Tlusty, 0.855M, expires 2010
Jason Blake, 4.0M, expires 2012

Stahlberg could easily be substituted for Stefanovich, or Dale Mitchell, or one of the other young kids we have. But the point is that I expect one of these kids to make the team out of camp. Fitting with Burke's top six/bottom six mentality, Stahlberg and NSFW need to get opportunities to play top-six minutes, or else they should be in the AHL getting that experience. I'm betting on them finding chemsitry with Blake as a line that uses its speed to create matchup problems.

Jamal Mayers, 1.333M, expires 2010
Matt Stajan, 1.75M, expires 2010
Mike Grier, 2.0M, expires 2012

Say hello to the Leafs shut-down line. Three veteran forwards with defensive smarts who will play most nights against the other teams' top guns. I thought when Stajan was used in this role last season, he performed admirably. Putting him in a role where he's responsible for shadowing the other teams top centre, killing penalties, playing a leadership role, and contributing 40-50 points a year is a realistic goal for him; a poor man's Jordan Staal. Giving Mayers a role more directed than "go out and hit somebody" will see his talents better utilized. And this is Mike Grier's bread and butter, so we'll bring in an old Wilson mainstay for 3 years, $6 million.

Christian Hanson, 0.875M, expires 2010
John Mitchell, 0.488M, expires 2010
Lee Stempniak, 2.5M, expires 2010

Now this is what an energy line should look like. All three of these guys are young, hungry, a bit of offensive upside, and eager to prove themselves. Stempniak was quietly (very quietly) among the Leafs leaders in hits last year, and Hanson and Mitchell should do well in a role like this. I think these guys would be difference-makers in a few games this year, when they completely change the tempo of the game by creating havoc in the opposition end and potting a goal. it also doesn't hurt that all three are in a contract year, and will be looking for every opportunity they can to prove they belong in this teams' future.

Tyler Bozak, 4.0M, expires 2011
I'm not entirely sure where to fit him in yet, or whether he'll need to start in the AHL while rehabbing from his knee injury. For now, he's our 13th forward. He could easily slot in on the 2nd line and bump NSFW to the wing if Stahlberg doesn't make it out of camp.

So that's my roster, coming in at a cap number of $51.32M. Adding the buyouts for Tucker & Raycroft, that takes our cap number to $53.05M. This puts us up near the cap, especially if it drops a little, and has a bit of cushion for any bonuses for Stahlberg or if the Monster's contract is bigger.

The team is built for speed, and we've added a little bit of truculence (love that word) to the third and fourth lines, while also giving them a greater purpose. The defence is full of sandpaper, and I expect it to be extremely physical and not fun to play against. With competent goaltending, and a number of free agents that could be moved during the season, I believe this team will challenge for the playoffs this season. We also don't have a single contract that goes beyond 2012, so we have incredible cap flexibility and plenty of room to re-sign our young core players, and possibly to bring in a key free agent or 2 in 2010, to start turning us back into a bona-fide contender in 2010-2011. We'll also have begun to develop a proper prospect pipeline to keep the good times rolling.

So who did we say goodbye to?

Martin Gerber, Olaf Kolzig, Boyd Devereaux, Brad May and the other fringe pros who are UFAs, have been released.

Pogge will be qualified and will be with the Marlies. Stralman is also with the Marlies.

Pavel Kubina has been traded. Looking around, the most attractive place for him was Washington, where they need to add a guy who can be a No. 2 or 3 D for them, but won't put them in cap hell. Kubina fit the bill perfectly in my eyes (I may do an extended analysis of this in another fanpost), so we'll send him to Washington for a 2010 1st round pick.

Alexei Ponikarovsky has also been traded. I really wanted to find a spot for him, and he could easily take Stahlberg's spot on the second line. But at this point we know what we're getting from Poni, and while his contract is extremely reasonable, at this point we need to decide what his future with this club is. My conclusion was that we're better off developing our young talent on the second line, so I've found him a home in Anaheim where he can provide scoring support for the core of young talent they have. Coming back is a 2010 3rd round pick.

PensionPlanPuppets.com is a fan community that allows members to post their own thoughts and opinions on the Toronto Maple Leafs and hockey in general. These views and thoughts may not be shared by the editor of PensionPlanPuppets.com.

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