The Toronto Maple Leafs are very close to the New York Yankees in the list of professional teams that I just have little or no use for. The coverage that they get in the media and the fans that they have don’t help their cause. I think that it is actually the fans that I have more of a problem with then the team itself. If they weren’t so ignorant and self-righteous I may not have the same destine for them. In an effort to be unbiased I am going to give credit where credit is due. Brian Burke has come in and put his stamp on the team in a very short period of time.
Pierre McGuire has said many times that this would be close to a 5 year re-build but in this cap system I am thinking that it may take far less time then that and they look to be off to a running start, especially when you have a little extra money to play with. Despite the fact that they currently have little or no one that can put the puck in the net they also won’t be allowing too many in their own. It may come down to a lot of 2-1 losses and/or shootout games. So far in just 1 off season they have done a great job at building from the goal out. They have 2 solid options in goal with Vessa Toskala and Jonas Gustavsson that can split time and add a good level of competition between the two tenders for the number 1 job.
They currently have 9 + guys on defence and will have to whiddle that down to probably 7 so some of those guys may be available in deals that can acquire something up front that can step in and help out the offence. The pickups of: Francois Beauchemin, Michael Komisarek and Garnet Exelby add size and solid play. When you add in Jeff Finger, Tomas Kaberle, Luke Schenn, Ian White, Mike Van Ryn, Jay Harrison and Anton Stralman you have formidable back end.
Right now there is little or nothing in the cupboard up front in either the minors or on the roster. the Colton Orr pick up clearly does not fill that need but there are pieces in play that could be added through trade or a mid level free agent move. Don’t look for Jason Blake Alexei Ponikarovsky or Matt Stajan to become dynamic scorers anytime soon. They have already signed their first round pick from this year in Nazem Kadri.
I still hate those dirty Leafs, but again, coming from a neutral position you have to give ol’ Burkey at least a head nod for a good step forward. It makes you wonder how just about every other regime since ‘67 could have been so inept.