Slow times in Leafland these days, so let’s have a crack at a couple of those questions.
Jon asks: “How much would you pay for Tavares? How much do you think it would take to get Tavares?”
I would make anything and everything not named Schenn available in a pitch for Tavares. The only plausible scenario where I can see Toronto landing Tavares is if the Islanders pass on him at #1 and opt to go with the talented Swedish defenseman, Victor Hedman, instead. There is no way you’re prying the #1 pick out of Snow’s hands.
Tampa’s pick wouldn’t be nearly as hard to swing a deal for, especially with that franchise leaking money and already with 2 franchise centers down the middle. To entice Lawton, Burke would likely have to conjure up a sizeable package that would include both present and future assets. Tampa’s #1 need is easy to identify: an elite puck-moving defenseman. Alas, perhaps a deal in which Kaberle, Tlusty, and the #7 pick in exchange for Ryan Malone and the #2 pick would be enough to get it done. The Lightning would be able check off several points on their list: acquire a cheap, elite offensive blueliner, acquire a cheap, very good young winger to play alongside Stamkos, shave off a considerable amount of salary, while also landing a quality pick with which they would likely be able to grab another franchise calibere defenseman in Jared Cowen. Not too shabby. Toronto on the other hand, manages to keep their future captain in Schenn, while also adding a prolific goal scorer and marketing dream in Tavares.
Corey asks: What do you think are the chances of Leafs landing, Bouwmeester or Beauchemin should they go to UFA?
Bouwmeester? I just don’t see it happening. All indications are that he’s a relatively shy and quiet individual who wouldn’t be very comfortable in a media hotbed like Toronto. Over the summer, Sportsnet had a brief 2 minute interview with Jay for his reaction about the McCabe trade, and he basically said that Toronto can be an awfully tough place to play and that players can often get a raw deal. You can bet Bryan’s not going to be giving any glowing reviews either. Yes money talks, but I don’t feel Burke and his $6 million ceiling will be enough to get it done. Kid’s probably going to go out West, make a ton of dough, and settle into a role similar to the one he had in Florida: the quiet leader of a young, small market team.
As for Beauchemin, I think he’s a very intriguing fit and has quietly been on my personal list of free agents I’d love to see Brian target. There’s the obvious sense of familiarity with the player who played a key role in leading Anaheim to the Cup, kind of like the forgotten and severely underrated cog of a star studded defense core. Beauchemin’s got plenty of attractive qualities: he’s a 20+ minute a night defender, he’s on the right side of 30, he’s a positive locker room presence for a young team. The French Canadian is likely also a perfect fit for Montreal however, and the Leafs may face stiff competition from the Habs for his services come July 1st.
Ryan asks: Ok well also on the free agency side of things who do you believe Burke will go hard after? Sedins, Cammy, Bouwmeester, Komi etc.
As mentioned above, I think Beauchemin would be an excellent fit as a big-time minute logger and veteran presence on a young team, something that would be especially valuable if Burke chooses to dangle one or both of Kaberle and Kubina over the summer. The Leafs will try to upgrade in the locker room with leadership, character, and a winning attitude to insulate the kids, while also adding in some toughness.
To address the first need, names such as Sammy Pahlsson, John Madden, and Todd Marchant will probably be considered. As for upping the level of belligerence, players such as Mike Grier, Chris Neil, and maybe even an old friend of Burke’s, Todd Bertuzzi, would garner some interest as well. Burke likes to build long-term relationships with players and has shown that he is very comfortable with going back to familiar faces.