In just over two weeks, the NHL Entry Draft will be upon us.Â Naturally, speculation as to the future destination of the top prospects is heating up.Â Â With July 1st rapidly approaching, trade rumours (some related to the draft, some not) and free agent speculation are abounding with fury.Â And, of course, possible internal team moves are getting their fair share of play as well.
Here are a few scenarios based on the latest buzz surrounding the Maple Leafs.Â The question is:Â which of these scenarios would you consider, and why?
The sweet & lowdown: Brian Burke has emphatically stated he would like to move up in the draft, but has also stated that he would only do so if the deal made sense and would be content to stay put if necessary.Â Â Buzz along the grapevine is he could consider moving down if (and only if) the players he has his eyes on (assumed to be Schenn and Kane) get picked … so long as he remains within the top 10-15.
Scenario 1: Stay put
You are calling the shots on draft day, but cannot make a deal to move up from the #7 pick.Â Assuming the projected top 5 of Tavares, Hedman, Duchene, Kane and Schenn are off the board by pick 7, and Phoenix grabs Ekman-Larsson at 6 to fill their greatest need, who would you draft at 7?Â Notable players still on the board include forwards Paajarvi-Svensson, Kadri, Schroeder, Glennie, and Kassian, and defenders Cowan, Kulikov, Ellis and Despres.
Scenario 2: Trade down
You are calling the shots on draft day.Â Unable to make a trade to move up in the draft, you find yourself sitting at #7, with an offer of an additional second-rounder to move down to #12 courtesy of Minnesota, who are desperate replace Gaborik.Â Â Tavares, Hedman, Duchene, Kane, Schenn, and Ekman-Larssen have been drafted already, and Minnesota will draft Paajarvi-Svensson at 7. Â The top players remaining on the board are forwards Kadri, Schroeder, Glennie and Kassian, and defenders Cowan, Kulikov, Ellis and Despres.Â Â You know that at least four of these players will be available at 12.Â Â Would you make the deal?
Scenario 3: Trade up
You are calling the shots on draft day.Â Atlanta is offering you the #4 pick, but it will cost you the #7 and Tomas Kaberle.Â Â Tavares, Hedman, and Duchene are off the board, but consensus top-5 picks Schenn and Kane remain.Â Would you do it?
Scenario 4: Trade for player
You are offered an early 20s, front-line, future 30+ goal scorer with a bright future in the league (e.g. negotiating rights to RFA Phil Kessel) straight-up for the #7 pick.Â Would you do it?
Scenario 5: Trade for futures
You are offered second and third round picks this year, plus a first round pick next year, for the #7 overall in this year’s draft.Â Â Would you do it?
Trade Scenarios (non-draft)
The sweet & lowdown: As with all trade talk surrounding the Leafs, the names of Kaberle and Kubina remain front and center.Â Â Â Recently, a ton of speculation has been raised regarding player situations on other teams.
Scenario 1: Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley is said to be available, and word is the Senators may be willing to trade within the division (it has been suggested that given the contracts of some players, inter-division trading is no longer taboo … most GMs are more concerned about getting the best deal possible, than where they are sending the player).Â Â You know that the Senators are seeking a top-pairing defender as a starting point in trade talks.Â Would you make an offer, and what would it be?
Scenario 2: Jack Johnson
Jack Johnson is widely rumoured to be available.Â Â LA has a glut of young defenders, but could use some blueline experience, and/or some punch up front.Â Â Johnson is thought of as somewhat egotistic and at times a malcontent, and with his father often acting as an agent brings back not-so-fond memories of the drama surrounding Eric Lindros in his early career.Â However, Johnson is an undeniable top-end talent, and still quite young.Â Â Â Would you make an offer, and if so, what would it be?
Scenario 3: Dion Phaneuf
Dion Phaneuf may be on his way out of Calgary, who would like to add a puck-rushing defender such as Jay Bouwmeester to their lineup.Â Â Assuming Boumeester chooses another team in the mix (Edmonton, Vancouver, Ottawa are all in the sweepstakes), would you offer Kaberle for Phaneuf?Â Why or why not?
Scenario 4: J-S Giguere
You are looking for a goaltender, and Gustavsson has unfortunately signed elsewhere.Â With the emergence of Jonas Hiller, Ducks goaltender J-S Giguere may be on the trading block.Â He is signed for 2 more years at $6 million.Â Â Anaheim would want youth, and likely the rights to Justin Pogge (who could benefit from a change of scenery) would have to be included in any deal.Â However, it would take more than just a struggling prospect to land the former Cup winner and playoff MVP.Â Â Would you make an offer, and what would it be?
Scenario 5: Ed Jovanovski
Ownership issues in Phoenix may dictate the team cutting costs and operating near the cap floor during the upcoming season.Â Â As such, veteran defender Ed Jovanovski, signed at $6.5 million for two more seasons, may become available.Â Â Would you make an offer, and what would it be?
Free Agent Scenarios:
The sweet & lowdown: While not the best free agent crop we’ve ever seen, there will still be plenty to choose from on July 1st.Â Â Brian Burke has already suggested he is willing to spend to the cap, which of course touched off a hailstorm of rumour and speculation.
Scenario 1: Marian Gaborik
Grapevine buzz indicates that Marian Gaborik may be willing to consider a one-year, incentive-laden contract that could grow to Malkin/Ovechkin/Crosby money (around $8.5 million) if he meets the conditions (games played, goals, points etc), but contains a base salary that is well below market value for a player of his ability.Â Â Â Would you make an offer?Â Â Â And if so, what would be your base salary and max contract value?
Scenario 2: Francois Beauchemin
Francois Beauchemin is said to be looking for a long-term contract, in the 5-6 year range.Â He is currently 29 years old.Â Â Would you make an offer?
Scenario 3: Mike Cammalleri
Mike Cammalleri just turned 27, and is willing to take a shorter-term contract (3-4 years) in order to be able to test free agency again later in his career.Â Â The open market rate for his services is estimated to be in the $5.5 million range, and he is reportedly not interested in taking a hometown discount.Â Would you make an offer?
Scenario 4: The Sedins
The Sedin twins are willing to take less than market value as a package deal ($4.5 – 5.5 million each).Â In exchange for taking less money, they want long-term contracts in the 6-8 year range.Â Â Â Would you make an offer?
Scenario 5: Mike Komisarek
Mike Komisarek is testing free agency, and the bidding is likely to start around $4 million for his services.Â Â Â Â He is currently 27 years old, and similar to Cammalleri will likely be looking for a contract in the 3-4 year range to allow for free agency again in his early 30s.Â Would you make an offer?
Internal Roster Scenarios
The sweet & lowdown: Aside from all the player transaction fury, several topics of interest have arisen in regard to those staying put on the Leafs’ roster, from league assignments to team roles to the issue of captaincy.Â Â Much is up in the air, but the one thing we do know is that with Ron Wilson calling the shots, nobody’s job is safe.
Scenario 1: Prospects w/ NHL experience
NCAA signee Christian Hanson showed flashes of belonging in the NHL during his cup of coffee with the Maple Leafs.Â Â Â Jiri Tlusty has also shown flashes at times (literally and figuratively!), and Anton Stralman and Phil Oreskovic played well toward the end of last season.Â Assuming these players have a decent training camp, would their development be better served to play limited minutes in the NHL this season, or have a larger role with the AHL Marlies?
Scenario 2: Prospects w/out NHL experience
Should NCAA prospects Viktor Stalberg and Tyler Bozak be given a chance to crack the opening day lineup despite having no professional-level experience, or would scoring-line minutes on the Marlies be of greater benefit to their learning the game?
Scenario 3: CHL-eligible players
Prospects Dale Mitchell and Chris Didomenico will likely turn pro this offseason, but could return to the OHL and QMJHL as overagers (both will be 20 when the season begins).Â Mikhail Stefanovich still has two of years of QMJHL eligibility remaining (will be 19 when the season begins).Â Â Would these players be best served to stay in the CHL another year?
Scenario 4: Stajan’s role
Assuming the Maple Leafs’ draft a top centre (Duchene? Schenn?) or sign one (Cammalleri? Sedin?), and assuming Grabovski is retained, Matt Stajan will likely return to his usual 3rd-line centre/2nd PP unit/top PK role.Â Â However, Ron Wilson is known for juggling his lines, so a significant amount of 2nd line duty can also be expected for Stajan.Â Can Stajan be a key player for this team in such a role, and is another 50 points a realistic expectation?
Scenario 5: Captaincy
Many expect a full-time captain to be assigned this season, and although Luke Schenn is considered to be the next long-term bearer of the “C”, the consensus is he should not be rushed into the role too early in his career. Â If Kubina is retained, should his experience as a Cup winner and NHL veteran earn him the nod for the “C”?Â Â Or should it go to a younger veteran, such as Stajan, who is adored by the media and respected in the room? Â Or someone else?Â And would it be appropriate to have Schenn wear the “A” this early?
That about wraps up the latest buzz surrounding the Maple Leafs from the backroom grapevine.Â Â I look forward to your responses to these scenarios, and to finding out if any of the chatter actually comes to fruition.Â Â We will certainly know soon enough … the draft is a shade over two weeks away, and free agency just another week thereafter.
Get ready Leaf Nation, exciting times are just around the corner!