What should the 2011-12 Maple Leafs look like?

What should the 2011-12 Maple Leafs look like?

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The days following the Maple Leafs‘ elimination from the playoffs are always upsetting and/or depressing. However, now that I’m done looking back at the missed opportunities and asking “what if this or that didn’t happen?” It’s time to focus on the positives and look forward to next season.

With that said, what should the Maple Leafs do this off-season? What pieces do the Leafs already have in place? What would you do if you were Brian Burke?

Below is pretty much the Leafs roster down the stretch, with a * indicating a suggested cap hit for the unsigned player for next season.

LW C RW
MacArthur $3,000,000* Grabovski $2,900,000 Kulemin $2,350,000
Lupul $4,250,000 Bozak $2,300,000* Kessel $5,400,000
Kadri $1,720,000 Boyce $850,000* Armstrong $3,000,000
Rosehill $650,000* Brent $875,000* Brown $736,667
Hanson $750,000* Orr $1,000,000
LD RD G
Aulie $733,333 Phaneuf $6,500,000 Reimer $2,000,000*
Gunnarsson $1,250,000* Schenn $4,250,000* Gustavsson $1,350,000
Lashoff $750,000* Komisarek $4,500,000
Lebda $1,450,000
BUYOUTS
Tucker $1,000,000
Cap Payroll $53,565,000 Roster Size 23
Bonuses $1,000,000 Cap Space $5,835,000

As you can see, there is still almost $6M in cap space despite the raises given to all the returning free agents. How would your version of the 2010-11 Toronto Maple Leafs look?

  • I wouldn’t break the bank to bring in Brad Richards, would you? I’m not convinced that he’s the right piece with this young, building team. I’m just not sure he’s worth the investment (even if he wanted to play here). Although Richards would fit our glaring needs for a #1 centre and a power-play quarterback, I’m a big believer in this group and want to see them grow together, without any of the drastic changes we’ve seen year after year. Maybe we should save the cap space and see who might be available towards next season’s trade deadline. Burke made his two biggest deals as a GM to date – both few would dispute for the better – in February for a reason. What do you think?
  • Even if the Leafs went out and got a #1 centre, I think Tyler Bozak should return. He’s better suited for a 3rd-line role, as he’s good on faceoffs, he kills penalties and can chip in offensively. However, if he has to remain in a scoring role, at least he’s shown more consistency since Joffrey Lupul’s arrival.
  • What about Clarke MacArthur? He should come back, but what kind of deal does he get? I’d be weary giving him anything more than a 2-year deal. Brian Burke has said that he’s not afraid to go to arbitration if they can’t work out a contract. He’d clearly get more than the $2.4M the Thrashers walked away from.
  • I’m also counting on Nazem Kadri being a full-time NHLer next season. If he’s not ready next season, will he ever be? How much more can he learn in the AHL? I’m confident that he’s shown us enough down the stretch that he’ll be ready next season.
  • I feel that Darryl Boyce and Tim Brent definitely deserve to come back, as I think they’ve shown that they’re more than just interchangeable parts (sorry Sjostrom, Crabb).
  • I wouldn’t mind bringing back Jay Rosehill for a low number. He always finishes checks and just seems like a more useful 4th liner than Colton Orr. I definitely wouldn’t bother signing anyone new to fill out our bottom 6 forwards, as these spots could be filled by Marlies if need be. Perhaps Christian Hanson and/or Joe Colborne compete for roster spots next season.
  • On defence, Luke Schenn coming back is a no-brainer. Question is, how many years does he get? And at what cap hit? I’m thinking 4 or 5 years at $4M-$5M per. Too much?
  • I think Carl Gunnarsson has shown enough to be an adequate defenceman (when paired with Luke Schenn anyway)
  • Have we seen enough from Matt Lashoff to pencil him in as our 6th defenceman next season? Or should we go out and get a veteran as insurance? Perhaps Jake Gardiner makes some noise.
  • As for James Reimer, there’s no doubt that he should be our #1 goaltender to start the season. He’ll come at a cheap price (for now), and I think that there’s just too much goaltending depth in the organization to waste any money on another goalie like Ilya Bryzgalov. I believe that no more than $3M should be spent on any goaltender, unless you’re getting a Roberto Luongo, Cam Ward, Ryan Miller or a guy of that caliber.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts…and the playoffs next season!

Follow me on Twitter @SantosDan

Thanks to CapGeek for the salary cap numbers.