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Who from the current Leaf roster do you absolutely want to see in blue and white to start next season-and beyond?

Fans seemed to enjoy the recent NHL All-Star weekend “draft”. It created interest and brought people back to their own playground days, with a twist of fantasy hockey pools thrown in.

Maybe that was the springboard for this, but recently I have been trying to determine in my own mind who are the “keepers” in the Leaf line-up right now, the individuals that fans absolutely want to see in the line-up when this team gets to that elusive “next level”.

The team has played some good hockey lately.  Burke has made his moves.  The deadline is passed.  We all understand that the roster will be further tweaked or re-vamped this summer.

So here’s how I thought this through:  if there was an expansion draft on July 1, and you were the GM and the Leafs could only protect (from those who have played at least one game with the big club this season) 15 guys- who would they be?

To be clear, that is my criteria.  I’m not including junior players who have been drafted, or those who are with the Marlies but have yet to play for Toronto.  For this endeavor, I include only those who have played at least a game in the NHL, with Toronto or elsewhere.

The point in raising this is to determine who are the players fans really want to see here and who are those we would be willing—even if we like and respect what they bring—to let go.

There is no "expansion draft", I realize.  But my question is, who do fans really want here when this team is good, very good?

Another way of looking at this is:  we know Burke wants to bring in some top-six forwards and make a splash this summer.  if we bring in two or three new forwards, that obviously changes the configuration of the Leaf roster going into 2011-'12.

This is not as easy a task as it sounds.  But let’s say we had to make these decisions— keep only 2 goalies, 4 defensemen and 9 forwards from the present roster, to leave room for these new additions (either free agents, youngsters or through trades)—who do we pick?

If I had to guess what most fans may be thinking, I would put forward the following names:








Brown or Brent

Of course, a full NHL team is comprised of six defensemen and twelve forwards, plus goalies and the reserves.

But again, the point is trying to determine:  who do the Leafs really need to keep to build a winning culture and winning team going forward?

For example, fans may love Tim Brent, and I do, too.  But should he be the guy who drives the third or fourth line?  What about Orr and Rosehill?  As the team’s “enforcers”, are they stop-gap players only?

Is Sjostrom really a fit going forward? 

And even some guys on the “protected” list?  Is Grabovski the real deal?  (Click on his name to see my earlier post on Grabovski:  illusion or reality?) 

Is Kessel a guy you build around?  Does he have the intangibles that scouts look for?  Leaf fans have seen him now for two seasons.  Is there a verdict?  Do they cut their losses or is he a keeper?  Most people following this site have told me that they definitely want him to stay and be a part of this.  Grabovski, too.

What about Armstrong?  A nuisance, for sure.  An agitator.  Is he delivering what we expected?  Most seem to feel he has.

MacArthur- is he worth the kind of money Atlanta walked away from in arbitration last summer?

And maybe as important as any consideration is young Reimer. He's delivered beyond our wildest hopes thus far.  But it's early, as I've posted in the past. (Click to see my earlier story on Reimer.)

There are always more questions than answers, it seems.  But I’d be interested in hearing who you feel are the players the Leafs absolutely have to keep and build around.


  1. The line up you have there seems pretty bang on to me. I'd rather take brent over brown, he seems to be a more skilled player than brown (example, wicked dangle goal on cam ward) though both bring a certain grit to the game.

    Grabovski has always had legs, and I think that having been with the team the last few years he has gained a certain confidence that is helping him score goals.

    MacArthur is worth the money. He plays smart hockey and seems to be an asset playing with Grabo and Kulemin.

    Orr is useless. I can't see how starting a few fights and getting your face punched in has helped our team at all this season. Its time for him to go.

  2. If I had to make these decisions today, I'd probably agree with your picks.
    In reality, it's too early to make a couple of calls for me.
    It's still too early to make the Reimer anointment, I think, but there's no other realistic choice for me. Teams are definitely targeting his glove side, and getting it in at his feet. I don't like the way he leaves the top corner open when he drops - he has tendency to kind of hunch over on high shots if he's down. I think Gustavsson is a year away, if he makes it at all. Too reminiscent of Toskala.
    And I'd keep Komisarek if I could. I think he's playing much better recently, and is a tough hitter.
    Again, it's too early to make a call on Lupul. As I said the other day, I like the way his speed and presence have opened up space for Kessel. If their line can develop the intuition Grabovski's has, it could be great. Bozak has really improved his faceoff work, but I'm still not convinced he's on the right line. MacArthur, Grabovski, Kulemin are still evolving, but have handled the pressure of being our #1 line and still scored pretty regularly. I like their inventiveness - a hallmark of all great lines.
    Armstrong, Brown, Brent, have been integral to the team this year. It's actually tough to know about Brown, thanks to his injuries, but when he plays, he adds considerable grit, as do Armstrong and Brent.
    I like what Boyce, Crabb, Hanson and even Rosehill brought to the table this year - we're no longer a team without forecheckers! As for Orr... as long as teams are going to have guys who are the designated fighters, I guess we need someone like him. I hate the fake fight - where two guys just decide to go - and I think guys like the Islander meathead (Gillies?) who nailed the guy from behind then punched him as he was down, should be kicked out of the league. That would stop some of the BS very quickly.
    I'm not a Kadri believer - he reminds me too much of Kyle Wellwood. Lots of flash, but too easily pushed off the puck at the NHL level.