Brian Burke all but promised changes this summer. Other than a few moves though, fans probably haven’t seen the changes they thought were coming.
At this point, we can probably blame that on the lack of a CBA currently in place as all teams, including the Leafs, have to be weary of making any moves right now considering they don’t know the financial landscape of the (possible) season ahead.
That has to be one of the bigger reasons why players such as Matt Lombardi, Tim Connolly and Cody Franson are still on the team. While none of those guys are particularly attractive pieces to acquire at the moment due to lackluster seasons for all, they are players that at least some teams should be willing to take a chance on due to their expiring contracts after next season.
But with no CBA in place, there aren’t going to be any teams willing to take that kind of chance.
Imagine giving up even a fourth round pick for a player who never plays for your team because the NHL lockouts for the entire year. No GM would do that, and thus we continue to see those players on the roster.
Then there’s the issue of the Leafs not exactly filling their self professed needs of a first line center and a goalie.
I’ll just say this: at the end of the day if the guys aren’t available, they aren’t available. If Roberto Luongo doesn’t want to come here (and that’s been reported more than a few times at this point), there’s only so much Burke can do. Yes it’s on him to make the team better so that good players actually want to play in Toronto, but this rebuild is clearly more of a process then a quick-fix so it is what it is.
People can justify reasons why players like Paul Stastny, and Ryan Getzlaf could be available, but it doesn’t mean they are. Colorado is still below the cap floor and needs Stastny’s big contract, plus, you know, he’s actually a good player.
Getzlaf is probably everyone’s favourite rumour man in Toronto, but if Anaheim trades him they are most likely waving goodbye to Corey Perry too next summer. Why on earth would the Ducks risk that? Especially a full year before they have to re-sign either. As we saw in Nashville, teams would rather try to have success and possibly risk losing both.
When the lockout does eventually conclude, it’s pretty unlikely teams are going to be chomping at the bit to make moves with the season about to start. At that point every GM will probably want to see what he has on the ice for at least the first 15-20 games of the year. Can you blame them?
So really what I’m saying is, the Leafs roster at the moment, is more than likely the one we will be looking at to start the season next year. Whenever that is.
And after acknowledging that, the only thing to say is this: Are the Leafs as currently constructed good enough?
Some Sunday Links:
– Randy Carlyle says he and his staff are preparing for the season like they normally do. More interesting is the fact that the Marlies have the option of moving to the ACC should there be a lockout. Personally, I like the Ricoh and hope they stay there (which it sounds like they will). The Ricoh actually feels like a hockey rink, whereas the ACC reeks of money and disappointment. But maybe that’s just me.
– Carlyle is also busy renovating the Leafs dressing room. Included in the link are some of the motivational quotes that he likes to put up on the boards. It’s a little thing, but it’s a big thing. This is his team now, and he’s beginning to put his finger prints on it. As Red Forman would say, “Play time is over.”
– One positive of a potential late start to the season? Matt Frattin would be healthy right from the get-go. My only question when it comes to Frattin is this: Are they going to play him in a scoring or checking role this year?
– Over on Dobber Hockey (a great fantasy hockey website) they picked Frattin as one of five young players to watch in the Eastern Conference. I’d say that it’s hard to predict the Leafs lines right now because of the uncertainty regarding whether JVR is actually going to stick at center for the year or not.
– Kyle Cicerella wrote two nice pieces here worth reading. One is about Leafs draft pick Ryan Rupert and his game, the other is about Korbinian Holzer and his one-way contract. They’re going to need Holzer this year to clear the net, muck in the corners and be physical. The Leafs defense struggles in all three of those categories.
– If you haven’t seen, The Hockey News has unveiled their season predictions of the standings for next year, save for what teams will finish first in each Conference (which you can figure out for yourself). They have the Leafs at 12th, and frankly, that might be generous if they get the goaltending I think they might.
– Awhile ago I wrote this series on GM’s draft records with their current teams, so I thought I’d link the Northeast division where the Leafs are. There’s some interesting quotes from Burke in the Toronto write-up and while he hasn’t actually drafted any NHLers yet, the potential is more than there for him to have had some very successful drafts in Toronto.