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Looking for your answers to 10 off-season questions for Maple Leaf fans

I'm sensing Leaf fans are all over the map these days.  Some don’t watch the playoffs when the Leafs aren’t involved.  Some kind of gravitate to “second favorite” teams.  Some follow their hardened hearts (been there and done that, for sure…) and root against certain teams (I’m guessing the Senators and Canucks might top the list this spring for a few Leaf supporters…).  For me in the olden days, in the '60s and '70s,  it was time to pray that anyone would take out the Habs, Bruins or Flyers.

From a Maple Leaf perspective, we’ll all keep an eye on players like Crabb and Phaneuf who will play at the upcoming World Championships but by and large Leaf enthusiasts are on their unofficial spring  “vacation”—that time where we mostly decompress, speculate, wonder, analyze and debate what the organization should do to make strides and get back to the playoffs, and maybe even better than that.

Recognizing that actual Leaf “news” will likely be virtually non-existent for several weeks, there will be activity in a few weeks.  But trade season doesn’t open up until just before the entry draft.  The draft itself will be fascinating but it’s not happening until late June.  Same with free-agency, which may not provide much ammunition this time around for starving teams come the traditional “open season” on UFA's when it kicks off on July 1.

But for now, I’d be interested in hearing how you feel about the following Leaf-related questions:
  1. Those of you who have your pulse on the young players who will be available in the upcoming draft (and assuming the Leafs hold their current draft position at number 5) who would you like to see the team select in that slot?
  2. Would you rather see the Leafs make a deal to try and move up into the top three, maybe even first overall, in the draft—or would that cost too much?
  3. Of the free-agent goaltenders that will be available on July 1, are there any you would like to see the Leafs take a shot at?
  4. If you prefer the Leafs upgrade their goaltending depth via the trade route, would you rather they pursue Bernier (LA), Lindback (Nashville), Schneider (Vancouver) or none of the above?
  5. Do you want to see Luke Schenn be a part of the future, or would you rather see the Leafs move him as part of a package in an effort to secure a “top-six” forward?
  6. Is Kessel, for you, a “must keep at all costs” cornerstone player for the organization?
  7. Do you want to see all of Kadri, Frattin, Ashton and Colborne on the roster in 2012-’13? (Are there other Marlies that you'd like to see with the big club as well?)
  8. Are you buying that a long playoff run by the Marlies would necessarily portend improvement around the corner for the Leafs?
  9. Which of Burke’s stated off-season priorities will be most easily addressed in the off-season:  goaltending, more toughness, a front-line centre?
  10. Who do you want to see the rival Habs bring on board as General Manager and coach?
There may not be a lot of “news”, but we’re rarely without something to discuss in Leafland, eh?

Send your answers and thoughts along!

27 comments:

  1. Hey Michael,

    I couldn't resist....

    1.2. Burke loves to make a splash, he will trade up to take the first overall pick. Edmonton has gone public with their intentions that their first pick is available, I believe Gunner/Franson/Blacker with our 5th pick would be well worth it for Yakupov!

    Now, I know he is not a center, but he probably is only player in the draft that is NHL ready, and that is what we need...

    3. 4. I believe the only goalie they should get is a proven #1 starter. The only UFA starter I see is Vokoun, he has succeeded under a system similar to Carlye's system, and has done a decent job for the Caps.

    I also don't believe they should get a goalie via trade unless it is a top 5 goalie (Quick, Rinne, Lundquist etc.), the others are just not a secure bet. The only top 5 I think may be available is Luongo. Poor guy got raped tonight again and if Van gets out in the first round, Luongo can be had for a decent price. I know many Leaf fans don't like Luongo, but he has handled the pressure in a market similar to ours and has put up incredible numbers. Things always go better the second time around...

    5. Luke Schenn, I believe, will be a top two dman in the next couple years, I feel we should let him evolve into our strong dependable leader. This is a kid who just became a millionaire, let him enjoy it for a little while. Soon enough he will start hearing his bro brag about how wicked the playoffs were, and that will get him back on track.

    6. Kessel is untouchable.

    7. I do not want to see all our boys on the roster. I hear many say that Burke is handcuffed and there is no hope. If Chicago could get out of the mess they had and still bring out a star studded lineup, we are certainly not handcuffed. We don't have the stars but we have a big bank account (Goodbye Finger). My point is I hope Burke brings in a couple players and lets these youngins fight for couple remaining spots.
    I think the only youngsters that make it are Frattin and Holzner(Holzner taking the spot of the traded dman).
    8. I think these Marlie playoff runs helps get the kids mentally ready for the pressure of everything being on the line. Whether this relates to the leafs in the coming years, yeah sure..
    9. I think most easily toughness, we need a top six tough guy and some plumbers. I watch these playoff games and there is no way RW's system would of survived even a round....
    10. have to get back to studying...

    Thanks Michael. I really appreciate you designing this forum where there is a more level headed opinion. I just can not handle all this negative media. I believe Burke is trying to replicate the workings of Ken Holland. Holland says himself "very conservative, very slow, patience, patience, patience". Burke is holding by his model, and I think in a year a two we will be on the verge of greatness. Of course this is just my opinion.
    Not many agree, but the amount of negative media Leaf players receive does have an effect. Now, they should never dare bring it up as an excuse, but everyone can agree that it exists. This negative media was the reason Lupul, who had a record season, was greeted with boos at a Jay game. Ridiculous, an embarrassment to true Leaf fans.
    Thank god for Vintage!

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  2. Great questions Mike.

    1) I'd be hoping that the Leafs come away with one of Alex Galchenyuk or Filip Forsberg from this draft. Based on where we draft they appear to be the two most skilled forwards available.
    2) I really just don't see how a team like the Leafs, with multiple areas to address, can justify putting significant assets at risk (again) to move up. I don't see this being a Tavares/Stamkos situation; the difference between Yakupov and a guy like Galchenyuk/Forsberg, doesn't appear (to me anyways) to be significant enough to warrant the cost.
    3) It really is just a hideous free agent class for goaltending. Probably Tomas Vokoun (if it's possible) or Martin Biron (as a veteran backup).
    4) If we must go the trade route, I'd love to try and poach Sergei Bobrovsky out of Philadelphia. I think his body of work is more impressive than any of those three guys, and with Bryzgalov signed long term, I can't imagine he's happy to be playing second fiddle there.
    5)If you told me the Leafs had the opportunity to swap Luke Schenn for a similar aged top six forward, I'd say do it. Otherwise, I think you keep Luke and get him a summer regimen to improve his footspeed.
    6) Kessel's not untouchable but it would basically take a significant package, and an indication that the Leafs are hitting the reset button, to consider moving him. He probably could be seen as a core piece but he needs one or two additional "cornerstone" pieces added to him to build around. Reimer was supposed to be one, but now who knows?
    7) Kadri and Frattin should be Leafs next season. Ashton and Colborne should not. As ar as other Marlies, Marcel Mueller, Greg Scott and Korbinian Holzer will get long looks, and Jesse Blacker and Ben Scrivens could possibly force the Leafs' hand like Gardiner did.
    8) I buy it depending on who does the heavy lifting. If you have a team that's just full of late 20/early 30 AHL superstars, then no. In the Leafs case, having guys like Zigomanis, Hamilton and Dupuis provide some veteran stability, but if it's guys like Kadri, Frattin, Gardiner and the younger players contributing significantly then I think it's a definite help to your franchise. The Senators AHL affiliate won the Calder Cup last season, and a significant chunk of that team was promoted to the NHL to form the depth group surrounding Spezza and Alfredsson.
    9) Toughness is the easiest because he could just acquire a raft of Colton Orrs and achieve that goal. Going against everything that has happened in Burke's tenure, I'll say goaltending is the one that he addresses the easiest.
    10) Somebody who doesn't speak french.

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  3. Good stuff, Bester30- I was hoping people would share their perspective, as you did very well.

    I probably have a different view on Burke's work, but I absolutely respect your position. We will see how things unfold over the next couple of seasons. Thanks Bester30....

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  4. 1. Galchenyuk or Forsberg are the best choices to me. Galchenyuk seems to have a decent two-way game with high end offensive skills, while Forsberg is a boy among men performing well in the SEL at 17.

    2. Don't move up. The draft has one clear #1 in Yakupov and everyone else will get drafted based on individual team scouting/needs/availability.

    3. Vokoun if he leaves Washington. Barring that, Biron or Harding.

    4. If I had trade for a goalie it'd be Schneider. Slight risk because the sample size isn't large enough yet, but his fundamentals and polish are undeniable. Moot point, Vancouver will ask for the moon and we just can't afford it.

    5. I think trading Schenn right now is a bad idea, he's under contract for a few more years and I think he can bounce back under Carlyle. Let him rebound and if you want to move him, do it when his value is higher.

    6. I'm so torn with Kessel. My heart says don't trade a guy with his talent, but at the same time look at what Philly did last summer. I do not think the Leafs will win a playoff round before his contract expires and who knows if he stays. The other issue is that our scorers are at or on the cusp of their prime, while our D is 2-5 years away. So do you trade Kessel for a king's ransom in blue-chippers and get younger up front to sync everything up? But then again, if Burke lands a centre and a couple of cycling scorers (guys like Kunitz/Talbot come to mind), Kessel is suddenly part of one of the more potent forward corps in the NHL. Sadly, neither scenario seems likely.

    7. Personally I want to see a sheltered line of Frattin-Colborne-Kadri next season. I think Ashton showed he needs more AHL games.

    8. I think it helps, if only to restore some semblance of a winning mentality and confidence into the organization. That is, confidence that is built upon something more concrete than two good half-seasons (end of 2011 and beginning of 2012).

    9. I think Burke finds a goalie and some toughness one way or another. Whether those players work out with his track record, flip a coin. A top end centre is still a pipe dream to me, and honestly I don't think we'll have one for at least another year or two when the kid we draft this summer steps into the NHL.

    10. Pierre McGuire (GM), Pepe Le Pew (coach). That should make everybody happy, no?

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  5. Thanks for that, clrkaitken....(Interesting thought on Bobrovsky...I sense we will all be wondering who Burke brings in to impact the goaltending situation until it happens...and we may be surprised!)

    All great answers. Excellent stuff, thanks.

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  6. Tremendous post, Mills.

    All good stuff, well thought-out. Your comment on question number 6 (Kessel), at least to me, reveals the thinking of quite a number of Leaf fans. They want Kessel here and doing his thing, but we wonder if his "timing" and the team's "timing" match up.

    Number 10 made me smile. Thanks Mills.

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  7. Long suffering Leafs fanApril 14, 2012 at 9:58 AM

    Mike first off thanks for the support of yesterdays post... grammar mistakes and all. I will answer your question in the order you have presented them:

    1. Sadly,the pulse I once had for junior players isn't like used to be. That being said, given how well this certain nationality preforms for the Leafs in the past, I'm hoping for Swedish forward Filip Frosberg name be called by Pal Burke. Hockey futures scouting report on him is encouraging: A dynamic skater with stellar offensive instincts. In fact, he has an elusive stride that makes him very difficult to contain. His speed is extraordinary for a player so young. He carries the puck well on his stick and he is very poised. He is not very big but he is very strong.

    2.In my humble opinion I think it would be best just to hold unto our pick. However, if a deal presents itself that actually answers some of our needs. I wouldn't go crazy mad if Pal Burke trade down in the draft or gave up the pick altogether. But it needs to be a solid deal for me that will help for the next 5-8 years. I do not want to see another 1st going for another Wayne Thomas, Dan Maloney,Tom Kurvers, (aging) Wendel Clark,Owen Nolan, or Vesa Toskala.

    3. Chris Manson or Johan Hedberg would do a find job.

    4. With Rask screaming for more playing time, why not Tim Thomas? Since I watch a lot of Preds hockey, I think Lindback best fits the Alliare mode.

    5.My Heart of hearts screams keep him!

    6. Not necessarily! I know that you're never going too get back what you gave up for him. But if a blockbuster deal presented itself that would kick start and make this franchise genuinely competitive for 8-10 years, I say quote Gary Gilmore and "lets do it!"

    7. Besides the names you have mention, you could add D-man Holzer.

    8. Question for you. Did it help the Leafs in the past when New Bruinswick Blackhawks, Cincinnati Tiger, and St. John's Maple Leafs did it?

    9. Maybe not the kind I would be looking for but toughness.

    10. I know this will sound awful, but...don't know, don't care, just hoping and praying they continue to suck:) Have a great Saturday Micheal!

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  8. Don't every worry about typos/grammar, Long Suffering. I just appreciate and enjoy hearing your perspective on various issues.

    Mason is an interesting name in goal for next season.

    I hear you on number 5 (Schenn). I hate the idea of giving up -and giving up on- young defensemen with potential.

    Loved your number 8 response, though hopefully the youth aspect of the current Marlie team means things are a bit different now!

    Thanks for chiming in today, Long Suffering.

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  9. Michael, great post and some big questions. I think most people agree that goal and centre are the biggest concerns.

    The Leafs are very thin at centre. Look at Philly with Giroux, Schenn, and Courtier or Pittsburgh with their three centres, we are nowhere close. I would like to see Burke put together a trade for someone like Paul Stastny from Colorado. Maybe a package of Kadri and Franson could bring him over. Then I would hold onto the fifth pick and go with Radek Faska who is a large 200# plus centre with the Kitchener Rangers. They could then have Stastny, Grabbo, as their 1,2 centres, Bozak on the third line and Steckel on the fourth, and Colborne and Faska in the minors. When those two develop, you have trade potential with your existing centres. They would have to find someone to take Connolley off their hands, or bury him on the Marlies.

    For goal, I still believe they have some great young talent in Reimer, Scrivens, Ryannas, and Owuya. I don't think they want to take on a big contract like Luongo, but if they can pick up a veteran that can provide some stability for a couple of years that would be great. That was the idea with Giggy, but obviously it didn't work out here.

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  10. 1. I don't think there is any chance of going wrong with any of the guys available in the top five, but Galchenyuk seems to be the best fit.

    2. That's probably going to cost too much, I'd rather see the Leafs try and add an additional 1st Rd. pick to draft Malcolm Subban

    3. Vokoun would be the only goaltender worth considering in my opinion.

    4. Of the three Schneider is the only one I'd consider worth pursuing. Too many question marks on the others.

    5. Odds are he will have to be moved if the Leafs are serious about improving the team. The Leafs aren't going to get far with trying to move only Connolly, Lombardi, Komisarek, Armstrong, etc. A few players that we like or have high hopes for are going to be leaving this summer as well. I'd rather the Leafs focus on getting a goaltender rather than a top six forward though. They've proven you can produce offensively with a 1C. They haven't been able to win without an NHL caliber starting goaltender.

    6. Call me crazy but I think you should hang on to your 24 yr. old point a game players. That being said there are players in the league I'd deal him for without thinking twice so I guess I don't consider him untouchable.

    7. I'd like to see them all on the roster because it will mean that Burke will have cleared out a lot of salary or buried dead weight in the minors. Might as well let the kids play will they are still righting the ship.

    8. The Marlies playoff success means very little. It comes down to what you think is more valuable for their development, to keep on playing hockey or to get started on their summer conditioning. I'd rather see them start their off ice training.

    9. Toughness. Though I have a feeling this will take the form of overpaying for Brandon Prust.

    10. I'd love to see Patrick Roy get run out of town a second time so I'll say him.

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  11. My 2 cents:

    1. I think they have to take a center. Galchenyuk? seems to be the best bet at number 5.

    2. Don't trade up keep the number 5 pick. But try to see if you can get another top 5 pick as well. maybe Columbus.

    3. A guy like Biron would be perfect I think. Vokoun is even playing for Washington now.

    4.I am hesitant to trade for another team's backup. Sometimes you get one who blossoms (Kiprusoff, Bryzgalov) but a lot of times they don't work out (Toskla, Raycroft).

    5.Keep Schenn. He will be very good. If you do trade him it has to be for a similar aged established top 6 player. I still say keep him.

    6.I think the timing is wrong on Kessel. If you can get a couple of blue chip prospects trade him. Yes it will hurt but it is two steps back for 3-4 steps forward 3 years from now.

    7.Kadri has got to make it next year or get something for him. Frattin will be here for sure. Colbourne's time is now. I would like to see all of them playing on a kid line it coukld be fun. Holzer and Blacker should get some consideration as well.

    8.It can't hurt. I can't help but feel that some of the shine coming from managment is overblown but a deep playoff run shouldn't set any back either. I guess we'll see, the proof is in the pudding as they say.

    9.I think the grit is probably the easiest thing to find. With the cap roster, solid veterans are out there every year you just have to find them (think Ward, Bergenhiem guys like that). A number one center is probably out unless they draft one and develope him themselves. The goalie is aslo going to be very hard to find.

    10.Coach Michel Bergeron, GM JFJ

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  12. To Mills,

    Just a quick point of clarification.

    Forsberg isn't playing in the SEL. He's playing in the Swedish second division.

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  13. I like your thinking, Greg. The playoffs are demonstrating (not that we didn't kind of know already...) that we lack a fair bit, including strength up the middle, to be a contending team.

    I still love Reimer, too, as I keep saying here, but I recognize we can't likely go into another season with two "unproven" NHL goalies. I get that. So Burke and company will be looking, for sure.

    Thanks Greg. Good stuff.

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  14. Thanks for dropping by, YakovMironov.....

    On Number 4, it will be interesting to see if Vigneault goes with Schneider in Game 3 in LA...

    Prust is a name I'm guessing they would be interested in....

    Have to admit I smiled (and maybe I nodded, just a little) with your response to Number 10....

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  15. Michael,

    I'd like to see the Leafs shore up centre and goal.

    For centre, Burke should pursue someone like Paul Statsny. Maybe Kadri and Franson could get that done. Then down the middle you have Statsny, Grabbo, Bozak, Steckel. Keep the fifth pick and select Radek Faska, a big 200# plus centre. Keep him in junior for another year and let him and Colborne develop. Know you have some depth in this position.

    For goal, I say stay with the 4 young goalies they have but bring in a veteran. Just because Giggy didn't work out doesn't mean the idea was necessarily bad. I would hate to see the Leafs with Luongo's contract. Or bring in another young guy that is more proven like Bobrovsky, Bernier or Scneider but would hate for the Leafs to give up too much for one of them.

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  16. Hi Willbur...all interesting comments. Thanks.

    Mills mentioned the notion of a "kid" line as well...something like Colborne, Kadri and Frattin....Who knows? Could be fun, and surely would provide a combination of energy and skill.

    Michel Bergeron- a great name from the past, and what a catalyst in the wonderful old '80s Quebec City-Montreal rivalry. Those were the days!

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  17. The Stastny discussion is an interesting one. Some Leaf fans would love him, it seems, others not as much. But he certainly puts up numbers and has skill.

    And I hear your point on Giguere, Greg. The idea was right. It just didn't quite work that time.

    I can't even imagine what Vancouver would ask for Schneider...

    Thanks.

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  18. 1. I'd draft Morgan the tough d from Vancouver who can put up points.

    2. Don't move up, personally not interested in floater Russian forwards. Not the type of player we need.

    3. No free agent goalie, Burkie is going to try and trade for one.

    4. Schneider looks best but I think Burkie will go after a veteran not a young guy.

    5. Keep Schenn, get rid of Wilson... oh we did that already. Luke is top shelf in character and he will get his game back.

    6. Kessel is up for grabs for the right player but keep in mind you need a natural goal scorer. Certainly not an untouchable.

    7. Frattin is miles ahead of the rest because he is tough and good defensively. But if he is bouncing between the 2nd & 3rd lines we need 15 goals from him.

    8. Yes to a degree. Playing tough playoff hockey is a good test. But I'd like to see them win some rounds, not go out early.

    9. Veteran goalie to go with Reimer. But I still believe Reims can win us some playoff games down the road.

    10. Patrick Roy would be entertaining and probably do a great job. Habs are our rivals but it sucks when we are both bad.

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  19. Thanks for visiting, Den...I know we're all thinking about a big, skilled forward in the draft, but you raise an interesting idea about a high-end defenseman.

    I'm a Frattin fan, too. I just feel he has a nice ceiling...

    I have to believe Roy will be involved with the Habs in some fashion. He and Serge Savard are close....

    Thanks Den, good stuff.

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  20. 1. No idea, but Galchenyuk seems to be getting the most talk as a centre who is NHL ready or very near it.
    2. I'd try and move up. You hear a lot about this draft having a solid top 5: why leave it to chance which one of those you get? I doubt it would be worth the expense of going for #1 though
    3. Absolutely Vokoun. We want as close to a dead cert. winning goalie as we can get, surely? Why mess about with maybes or possibles?
    4. I've posted elsewhere that I thought they should make a play for Schneider but I'm wavering towards Bobrovsky now.
    5. I'd prefer to keep Schenn if at all possible. He's the kind of D that we know we need, but without the experience. As alluded to by Bester30, the dude just cashed his cheque and must have a spinning head: while that's not great, let's hope it's a response grounded in (im)maturity rather than basic character and will therefore cease to be an issue as he evolves as a professional
    6. I'd keep Kessel, no question. Why go so hard for an excellent centre elseways? So he can develop chemistry with Lupul? Surely one jests.
    7. I'd really like to see management sit down with Kadri and say "You're in, son. We're leaving you on the roster for the first 20 games whatever happens so forget about whether you need to keep your bags packed and just play &#$!ing hockey" Frattin too. If we upgrade our young centre prospects with Galchenyuk i'd be looking to trade Colborne as a part of a big package for a top line centre. Ashton, who knows yet? How can you judge his end of year performances coming in to a team that was playing like it had fallen down the rabbit-hole?
    8. No. It's all about the top 2 inches.
    9. Toughness has gotta be easiest. I'd go after Sami Pahlsson for our third line centre.
    10. Struggling to give a monkey's I'm afraid.

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  21. That's another "vote" for Bobrovsky, Kiwi Leaf.

    I'm with you on Kadri. I have so disliked the yo-yo, up and down thing with him the past two seasons. I have zero problem with him being in the AHL in the first place, but at some point, you have to give him a long leash. As you said, let him know he's not going anywhere for an extended period of time, no matter how many "mistakes" he makes. Let's see him play without a piano on his back.

    Pahlsson has certainly been mentioned in this space before.

    Thanks Kiwi Leaf.

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  22. I'll try to keep it short, while being insightful.

    1. Galchenyuk assuming the Yakupov, Murray, Grigorenko, and Forsberg go ahead of him. A chance Dumba or Trouba go 4th instead of Forsberg but I'd still take Galchenyuk as I believe he could have been top 3 if he wasn't injuried.

    2. I suggested our 5th overall and Franson to Edmonton and I'd be willing to suggest the same to take Murray 2nd. I'm not sure I'd be willing to part with more and certainly not outside Yakupov or Murray.

    3. I assume Vokoun wouldn't want to come to Toronto. Harding is the next best, or rather, the best goalie Toronto could sign.

    4. Of the three Schneider would be the best and most proven. Bernier and Lindback aren't much better than Scrivens numbers and barely more proven. (The Leafs Nation, PPP, or Maple Leafs Hot Stove had a chart and breakdown). Schneider I suspect would be too costly to acquire and too many teams like CBJ and TB driving up the bid.

    5. Remember the Schenn for JVR talk? I revisited that thought but with a twist. What would be needed to make a JVR and Bobrovsky for Schenn plus. I would make that trade, pieces pending. Don't confuse this with a running Schenn out of town. I would rather keep him unless the trade has to possibility to equal out or better in the Leafs favour and if it could address more than one demand.

    6. The best since Sundin. The first season he met my expectations and thought he should be untouchable.

    7. Frattin and Kadri are the only Marlies forwards ready. Colborne didn't have a real good season as expected and would be hard to beat out Grabovski and Bozak on 2nd and 3rd line. Certainly not getting 1st and why play him on a wing? Another year with call-ups wouldn't hurt. On defence - Holzer deserves a real shot to play, Mikus @ +22 was impressive, Gysbers was also solid.

    8. A long playoff run for the Marlies is good for those players. The Leafs are another question and most of them may never be Leafs or NHLers. Improvement is a vast word and I'm not going to speculate on kids today being saviours tomorrow. Although that baby in a manger did walk on water... (Humour)

    9. Keyword: Easily. Answer: Toughness. Elaboration: Moen, Asham, Parros, Gaustad, Tootoo, Burish, Campbell, Barch, Prust. No endorsements, just some names of tough UFA characters.

    10. GM: Could they really get worse than Gauthier (MTL's JFJ). Coach: Get over the french thing and hire the best man available. Montreal does not even speak real french, it is akin to saying Americans speak English. (2nd attempt humour).

    Michael, good job on the roundtable Podcast. For those that missed it...
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/

    PS I found it interesting that my thoughts shared here were semi mentioned regarding Kessel and his UFA status.

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  23. Solid overview, Skill2Envy.

    I well recall your thoughts and earlier comments about what you would be prepared to see the Leafs offer to move up the draft.

    On Schenn it will be interesting to see a) if the Leafs are indeed prepared to move him and b) who the possible suitors could/might be. I wonder if the Flyers would still be in the mix...They're seemingly in a different boat than they were before the current season got underway.

    That's an interesting list of "tough" UFA's, by the way.

    Thanks for the reference to the podcast. I have no doubt that the many insightful comments here and on other blog sites are captured by others and become part of everyone's thinking and analysis going forward. I don't doubt your thoughts may well have been in evidence in that chat.

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  24. 1) Can't say with any firsthand knowledge but it'd be nice to see them pick up Forsberg or Galchenyuk (if the Habs don't nab him) based on the scouting reports, no problems with Murray either if he falls.
    2) Depends entirely on where the scouting staff determine that that inevitable drop-off in talent exists in the first round. Again it looks like a good player will be available regardless so I'd lean towards no.
    3) Hackett's got enough experience and he can certainly play the back up role without skipping a beat.
    4) Not with the Leaf's history of trading for goalies haha, certainly not Bernier or Lindback. Don't think Schneider could be had for anything close to reasonable cost.
    5) Please keep him, a reasonably young, proven top 3 forward sure but this would be the epitome of selling low in my eyes.
    6) No one on the roster is a 'must keep at all costs' player after that finish but Kessel is pretty close. Trading him for Nash would be completely asinine in my eyes as an aside.
    7) If they earn it in the summer and preseason. Nothing wrong with another season or half season with a really competitive, young Marlies squad.
    8) Can't hurt, everything I've read and all my instincts point to yes.
    9) Good goaltending always seems to have been available in the UFA market in the past few years. The others are probably going to take some managerial sneakiness haha.
    10) Pierre McGuire, can't listen to that guy broadcast hockey games anymore!

    Thanks for the great year Michael, enjoy the time resting up for September!

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  25. Ben B...Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Good stuff. (I think we'll hear more Nash talk this summer!)

    I have a feeling we'll be surprised by the goaltending acquisition. Don't know what they'll do, but I think it may be a surprise.

    Thanks for visiting this season, Ben.

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  26. 1. I want Grigorenko. There's almost zero chance he lasts until five. If Toronto cannot draft Grigorenko, I want to trade the pick. I'm not particularly interested in drafting a player who has no business being in the NHL for at least two seasons, and other than Grigorenko and Yakupov, that's all that's available. Trade the pick for either Cory Schneider or David Bolland and improve the team in a tangible, immediate way.

    2. I'm fine with moving up in the draft, but again, unless you're bringing the big centre home, I wouldn't bother.

    3. I wouldn't mind taking a flyer on Josh Harding. Vokoun is clearly the best goalie available but Burke wasn't interested in him at the deadline. Besides, Vokoun is Cup shopping. Why would he come here? Why would ANYONE come here?

    4. I want Schneider, I'd move the 5th overall pick for him, and I think it's going to take precisely that much to get him. Tampa Bay didn't load up on top 60 picks because Yzerman feels they need to restock the cupboard. They loaded up to make a run at Schneider. The 5th overall pick can trump what Tampa offers. Do it.

    5. Here's the thing with Schenn. When you draft a player at the tippity top of the draft and hand him a ton of money on his second contract, you're signalling to the fanbase to expect him to be a top level player. Luke Schenn is not a top pairing defenceman and he almost certainly never will be on a good hockey team. Schenn going to be a Brad Stuart-type. Stuart is a very good hockey player, but he's a second pairing guy.

    Now, I absolutely value the Brad Stuarts of the world. You need a quality second pair on your team, and I don't mean like what we have here where we have a second pair and then two bottom pairs! But the other thing with Stuart is that he had to leave San Jose and age a little before he developed into what he is now. The expectations were too high in San Jose, having been a third pick, to be able to settle in as a second pairing defender.

    I think that's where Schenn is. Much like Stuart, or Dan Cleary, or Manny Malhotra, Schenn is going to have to go somewhere else where expectations are more realistic in order to develop. So I'd trade him.

    6. Kessel is an excellent player but he's not and never will be a cornerstone. I'd really like to keep him, but as you brought up on the Globe's podcast this week, Michael, why would he stay here in two years? We have media ripping him for being shy. Even if the team wins a bit in the next two seasons, Kessel is gone. So you probably have to look at moving him.

    7. Heavens, no! Frattin fits into whatever the bottom six is supposed to be. Kadri more or less has to stay up, if for no other reason than we need to see if he's a real player or not. Colborne, I suppose, could theoretically win a job, but you're better off leaving him in the minors if you're not going to give him real ice time. I don't want to see Ashton in the NHL ever again.

    8. Not in the least. What does it matter when most of them will never make an impact in the NHL?

    9. Toughness will be the easiest... sigh... I don't really know WHY Burke is so fixated on toughness, though. The Leafs need quality up and down the lineup. Players who can PLAY, not players who want to fight.

    10. McGuire. Makes watching hockey easier for me and harder for Montreal fans. Win-win!

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  27. That's a very well-thought-out post, Dave...

    Interesting thought on Grigorenko or bust...i.e. if we don't get him, move the pick to get something really good for right now. (Whether someone else would play ball with Burke, I don't know...)

    Your assessment vis-a-vis Schenn may prove prophetic. We'll see over time.

    Kessel is such a talented guy, but as I've mentioned to others here, I wonder if the "timing" is off- that is, by the time the Leafs are ready to contend, will he still want to be here?

    I hope toughness means players with real grit...not just the willingness to fight....

    Your answer on Question 10 is a popular response here, Dave...for the reasons your cite!

    Thanks.

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