Well, I made the challenge and now I get to be
the Pope Brian Burke.
First, great post by clrkaitken, but the team I see coming together is a bit different
Who is out:
Kaberle - In most respects, Kaberle is superior in just about every way to Kubina, but Kabby will be the one to go. He is less expensive, a better skater, better first pass and even a bit better defensively. Why will he get traded? Lack of effort last year combined with Wilson's coaching style. Yes there were some injuries, but it seemed like he was having some separation anxiety.
Also, he is probably the most sought after player and therefore valuable in a trade. I think either Atlanta or LA(but more likely LA) would be willing to trade their pick for Kaberle and another young, talented player like Grabovski. Yes, I think LA is ready to actually trade away their 5th over all pick. They are stocked up with young players and I believe they will make a move for the right incentive. Also, this might involve the Leafs giving up a 2nd round pick next year(as they don't have one this year.) Grabovski has talent and gumption(great word) but he seems very full of himself and someone who might hold out/go to arbitration/threaten going to the KHL. Burkie would not put up with that for a second.
Stajan will go, either as part of the above deal, or separately for a low 2nd round pick or a high 3rd round pick. He has been with the big club for the better part of 5 seasons now and has not materialized as a second line pivot. He had chances playing on the top 2 lines at various times but has not shown the consistency needed to hold a top 6 spot. Moving Stajan kinda worries me a bit, not for what he has shown, but for what he could prove to be. In any case, I don't think it's going to happen with the Leafs. I believe watching Steen and Carlo go last year really affected him. I would think that Burke would use the pick gained from the Stajan trade to flip to LA, or on a goaltending prospect if Pogge and Reimer fail to materialize.
Stapleton and Williams will both be qualified on 2 way contracts, but with Grabovski out of the mix we won't have a big one way payout. Hollwig won't be qualified, and Siefers really isn't relevant to this year's Leaf team.
Bozak will make the team and probably start in a third line role, lets see if he can work his way up. Dido could have made an impact, but with his injury he is probably at least a year away.
Some people are saying we will get the Sedins - this is highly unlikely and in my opinion, unwarranted. They will demand a large and long contract and it isn't something we should be tied to right now. I'm fairly certain they will re-sign in Vancouver.
Although I too would relish having a player like Beauchemin on our blueline, I think Burke and Wilson will be satisfied with their developing D-core. Even with Kaberle out and no new additions, we still have 7 D-men under contract for next year.
Mike Cammalleri has been suggested by few to join the Leafs. I am not saying it is a move I would personally make, but young scoring wingers don't grow on trees. Also, with Calgary in the situation they put themselves in combined with the lack of chemistry with Jokinen means that Cammalleri is likely the odd man out. Would Sutter love to sign him? Yes. Can he afford it? No.
Gustavsson will sign with the Leafs and get the chance to push Toskala. Possibly 27 games, maybe more. Toskala's best years were spent in a tandem system and it may be easier on his groin and knee to share the cage.
So, here are the players and cap hits for next season:
Van Ryn $2.9
Bozak $ 2.5 avg
That puts me almost at the $57 million mark.
This will continue to be a team with growing pains, but if we can stay healthy on defense (big if) combined with some better goaltending we could make the playoffs. This is another development year and for the first time in a long time we are going in the right direction.
Just for fun, these are my line combinations:
Yes, I am aware that some are playing on their wrong side, but this is just a quick and dirty list.
13th Tlusty(splitting with Mayers)
Toskala (45-55 games)
Gustavsson (27-37 games)
Steve, you may now completely pick apart my selections with your 'logic.'