With the Leafs kind of clinging on, at the Center position with injuries to both Bozak (out for an unknown period), and Bolland (who could be out possibly for the remainder of the season), the Leafs may have to look from outside the organization to fill a hole at the Center position.
Here's some options the Leafs might look to explore. Here are some names who could possibly help fill the void:
The Higher prices---
-Paul Stastny Again, another guy who's frequently been mentioned with the Leafs, more noticeably from the consistent love affair between Howard Berger and more recently between Steve Simmons. He was Phil Kessel's Centerman during the 2010 Winter Olympic games. He has been, declining in production in recent years, and his $6.6 cap hit, would be hard for this club to swallow. However, given Colorado's depth down the middle, the writing seems to be on the wall for Stastny to be moved inevitably at some point this season.
Unless the Leafs picture Stastny as a future fixture in the top 6 , Statsny doesn't make a lot of sense given his cap hit, declining production and price to obtain him.
-Shawn Matthias. An actual UFA in 2015, as Florida continues to struggle they may look to move Matthias. The 6'4 220, Missisauga native has always had the tools scouts drool over, though, has never put together great numbers. From THN: "Owns good size, two-way acumen, leadership qualities and face-off skills. Isn't a speedster but he does skate well. Versatile, he can play center or wing. Lanky, he has a great reach and is the type of player coaches lean heavily on late in games." (In other words, he's a Carlyle type of center). He's only 25, too, which means he's still got some NHL years ahead of him.
Florida would also probably ask a more premium price for him.
-Steve Ott. Seems to be the type of guy Carlyle would love. Fights, hits, agitates, is reliable defensively, can be used on special teams. Is a UFA heading into the summer of 2014. With Buffalo's on-going season struggles, it's a strong possibility they will be looking to purge Ott at some point.
The Bargain Bin:
-Jeff Halpern. UFA in 2014. Though 37, with his best years behind him, Halpern has always been a useful NHL Center at nearly every facet of the game. Very versatile as a Center. His cap hit is a more modest and friendly $600,000, which, would be easier for the Leafs to swallow as a cheaper rental with some serviceable NHL life left in him for depth and veteran presence. Boucher scouting, had a great write-up on how effectively quiet Halpern actually is: http://www.boucherscouting.com/2013/06/2012-13-jeff-halpern-scouting-report.html
From THN: Assets:" Is a diligent worker. Plays a solid defensive game and excels on the penalty kill. Possesses solid leadership qualities and the ability to play both center and wing."
The cheap option:
-David Steckel. Should clear waivers today after being placed on waivers last night from Anaheim. Wouldn't cost the Leafs anything to claim him, other than his salary. Has former history with the Leafs. Would be just fine on the 4th line, and could take(and usually win)critical defensive zone faceoffs, and be an added bonus to the PK. Not great offensively, though, and not very fast as a skater which limits his abilities. A pure defensive forward, more a 4th line guy, not a good 3rd line C option.