We have all had a few days to digest Sunday’s trades, but there is still a well of untapped implications. Â Here’s a closer look at the forwards involved: both the outgoing Leafs and our lone newcomer. Â Be sure to check out Garrett’s excellent pre-game analysis here before tonight’s tilt with the New Jersey Devils.
After taking a short pause to catch his breath after the Jonas Gustavsson deal was all sewn up, GM Brian Burke got right back down to business, as the Toronto Star is reporting that he placed calls to six free agent forwards. His top two priorities at the moment include a skilled forward for the top six group, and a versatile player for the bottom six group that will contribute to the team’s penalty kill. Briefly skimming through the list of free agent forwards still available, I’m going to toss out the names PJ Axelsson and Tom Kostopoulous into the already rumored group of Manny Malholtra, Blair Betts and Travis Moen. As a 29 year old, 6’3 210 lb player from Western Canada, Betts was the #1 forward on the league’s #1 PK unit last season for the Rangers.
The Leafs have a tad over $3M left to play with this offseason, and Burke mentioned that he had received a significant offer for one of his defenseman not named Kaberle, in a deal that would involve a forward coming back with a greater salary. So he’s going to have to weigh his options over the next few days, as he prioritizes how to allocate the remaining cap space.
In the MLSE land of unreasonable expectations, even a superstar troupe like Burke and Wilson will not be afforded another record breaking season; at least not if said record is a fifth consecutive season of playoff free hockey. Subsequently Burke is going to be looking for a catalyst to the rebuilding project come summer and the most obvious route will arrive in early July, not a week earlier in Montreal.