Post-Kovalchuk Targeting

I debated whether or not to give this a fan post, because it's so clearly self-indulgent roster-baiting and I always hesitate to do the whole "armchair psychologist" thing, but since it's the offseason and I'm bored, I figured "Why not?"

First, let's look at the forwards Burke has signed or retained, and their ages: Armstrong (27), Bozak (24), Brown (25), Hanson (24), Kessel (22), Kulemin (24), Mueller (22), Versteeg (24), Sjostrom (27), Mitchell (25), Orr (28), Caputi (21), Grabovski (26), Irwin (23). Short of role-oriented third liners Armstrong and Sjostrom, and enforcer Orr, I think it's safe for us to say that Burke is aiming for people aged 25 and under. (As an aside, I think this cutoff - when combined with contract term - was a major factor in Burke's decisions not to accommodate Kovalchuk and not to court Gagne.)

Since we're talking about Kaberle on the way out, I think it's fair to assume Burke's looking for a roster player, rather than a prospect. Also, minor league player valuation is subjective enough that I don't think we could hope to guess Burke's thought process based on history alone. (Confession: I also didn't want to pull data from AHL/CHL/NCAA prospects)

There's no argument that we're looking for a goal scorer; assists be damned, we need a sniper that poses a valid secondary scoring threat. No more teams matching their one good defensive defenseman against Kessel for a whole game.  

I've decided to leave centers in as an option, since we're dealing with young players (who may be open to switching to the wing), and we could consider moving Grabovski to the wing. So we're looking at forwards who will be younger than 25 at the start of this season, have more than 0.2 ppg, more than 20 games played, and greater than 15 goals scored last season. We're going to exclude some of the big-name franchise players: Ovechkin, Kopitar, Malkin, Towes, Tavares, Stamkos, J. Staal, Duchene, Backstrom, Stasny, and Crosby. There's clearly no point in talking about any of them, and if Burke were to get any of these players, I'd probably start making stupid, Alfredsson-esque guarantees. 

That leaves us with the following list (which I tried to do as a table, but instead give you a screenshot):



So a couple notes about this list. 

First of all: This is an excellent list to be on. These are bonafide players who either can be, will be, or are top six players, and they're all young enough that they should be trending upwards. And there are 3 Leafs on it (Kulemin, Kessel, Versteeg). That makes me very, very happy. (This should also reinforce the idea that these are the kinds of players Burke wants to see in his top 6 core.)

But the down side: While I think there are a lot of names on here that we could get for a package involving Kaberle, unless we meet some weird contract issues (cough Neal please cough), we're gonna have to throw in more than Kaberle for most of those players above. And for almost all of them, it's another case of "leave the untouchables, have your pick of the rest." This may not be inherently awful, though, as it would be a great chance to free up some SPCs; though we likely won't be dealing with such a cap-strapped team, remember what we gave up for Versteeg. 

I'm also happy to see just how many teams are on this list. 23 different teams - TOR not included - have someone that might fit Burke's demands. Not all are equal, but it also means that we don't have to take a raw deal; we should be able to keep the Untouchables untouchable, and Burke should have a good bit of room to play hardball. Even if we were to discount the 7 centers on the list, there are options here.

I haven't got the time right now to hunt down Corsi, QualComp, QualTeam, or even contract info for many of the individuals listed above, so please feel free to include any in discussions. On the above list, who would you want? Who would you avoid like the plague? Who got snubbed? (Also, before we get into HFBoards territory, please recognize that some of the people on that list should still be considered "untouchable"; I'd be shocked if Duchene or Tavares got traded any time soon, for example.) 

If we're looking to get a secondary scoring threat, I'm starting to think we don't think we need a lottery draft pick or 8 million dollars to do it. We just need to give up some assets and gamble a little. 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

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