Among the group of UFAâ€™s: Alexei Ponikarovsky, Lee Stempniak, Matt Stajan, Wayne Primeau, Jamal Mayers, Ben Ondrus, Mike Van Ryn, Jonas Frogren, Garnet Exelby, Joey Macdonald and Vesa Toskala.
Among the group of RFAâ€™s: Nikolai Kulemin, John Mitchell, Christian Hanson, Jiri Tlusty, Andre Deveaux, Ian White, Phil Oreskovic and Jonas Gustavsson.
What does this mean for the Leafs? Potentially, it could result in a playoff-berth for the Buds, who haven't made the big dance since the 2003-04 season. If some of the Leafs' core players take advantage of their contract years, thus playing beyond their established level, making the playoffs can be a distinct possibility.
As training camp approaches, there will be no shortage of forwards rumoured to be heading to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for one or more of their excess defensemen. The two players currently being mentioned in the rumour mill, however, will command a little more than a spare part.
Those two players are Patrick Marleau, and Patrick Sharp.
Stajan, who had his best season as a Maple Leaf in 2008-09, proved to be a reliable two-way forward, and found his place among the top-six. However, many critics have pondered whether last season was simply a flash in the pan, as Stajan seemed to establish his role in the National Hockey League as a dependable No.3 center.
With Brian Burke opting to bolster the Toronto Maple Leafsâ€™ defense this off-season, many critics have pondered whether the current group of forwards are talented enough to propel the Leafs into the playoffs.
That question depends largely on the Leafsâ€™ young forwards, such as Nikolai Kulemin, Jiri Tlusty, Matt Stajan and Mikhail Grabovski. But amongst those listed, one player in particular will be expected to lead the charge offensively. And that is the ultra-talented but inconsistent Grabovski.
Whether you dislike Mats Sundin or not, you knew something wasn't quite right with the Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Â The Leafs opted to not appoint a team captain for the 2008-09 campaign, and went with a revolving group of alternate captains instead. Personally, I thought that was the right decision. But heading into next season, is it now the time to name a new captain?
So Nik Zherdev is officially an Unrestricted Free Agent. And of course, the Toronto Maple Leafs are rumored to be interested in the streaky 24 year-old forwardâ€”when are they not rumored to be interested in a specific player? I don't know what the consensus of Leafs Nation is, but this Leafs fan is hoping Brian Burke doesn't touch Zherdev with a ten-foot pole.
Since the 20 year-old was drafted 13th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, Leafs fans have had high hopes that Tlusty would be a diamond in the rough, and would eventually play a crucial role in the Leafs' top-six.
However, Tlusty has struggled somewhat at the NHL level, posting a disappointing 10 goals and 20 points in 72 games played. But, it's not as if Tlusty has been given ample opportunity to shine, as he has been forced to play bottom-line minutes throughout his tenure with Maple Leafs thus far. Considering the type of game he plays, which does not include a robust defensive style, it's no wonder he hasn't progressed.
With news breaking about the Chicago Blackhawks possibly making a critical error in filing qualifying offers to Restricted Free Agents Cam Barker, Kris Versteeg, Ben Eager, Colin Fraser, Aaron Johnson and Troy Brouwer, I can't help but think Brian Burke is salivating at the thought of acquiring two players who would strenghten the Leafs' core in an instant.
July 1st is tomorrow, folks. Where has the time gone? Not complaining, though, I couldn't be happier as I prepare to bask in the excitement of the Free Agency Frenzy. Oh, and it's also Canada Day, too.
Brian Burke, after failing to make his mark at the NHL Entry Draft, will presumably have big plans for tomorrow. He loves the limelight, after all, so it wouldn't surprise me if he tries to steal the show. On the other hand, signing a variety of second-tier Unrestricted Free Agents would also be considered a successful, albeit conservative, approach.
So I ask you, what's your UFA wish list? If you were Burke, who would you target?