A comment by our good pal Neal got me thinking, of the current Leaf roster, who is going to part of the team that gets the franchise back into the playoffs and into “contention”?
I know, what does contention mean? For sake of this post, lets say a return back to the final four at least.
So Leaf fans, given the current roster, whom is going to be a building block of success and who is going to be thrown overboard in attempt to get more assets?
I think we are at minimum 3 years away from getting back to that point. I am not saying it will happen in 3 years, I am saying it won’t happen before then.
So we are looking at the 2010 or 2011 seasons…
In 2010 the buds have contractual obligations to 4 players: Jason Blake, Niklas Hagman, Tomas Kaberle and Jeff Finger. They will still be paying Tucker a million bucks, so the total cap obligation at that time will be 15.750. In other words lots of room. That doesn’t mean that all the younger guys won’t be around, rather that the leafs aren’t currently tied to them.
In my opinion, of those 4 only 1 will remain at that time. I am going to get killed for it, but the only guy I see around is Finger. I think Blake is going to get traded or demoted fairly soon. Kaberle I think will probably be gone next summer when his no trade window opens. As for Hagman, assuming he can perform there should be demand for him next year come deadline time when he no longer has a NTC. Joining the not around list will be Jamal Mayers, Bates Battaglia, Boyd Devereaux, Ryan Hollweg, Kris Newbury.
For forwards that doesn’t leave much does it? Mark Bell, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Nik Antropov, Matt Stajan, Alexander Steen, Nikolai Kulemin,Jiri Tlusty and Mikhail Grabovski.
On D, we have Kubina, Mike Van Ryn, Carlo colaiacovo, Jonas Frogren, Ian White and Anton Stralman, we can add Luke Schenn (but know one knows anything about him as a pro)
In net, lets assume the Cujo thing won’t last more then this year, maybe next at most. I think Howie is right and Toskla is a trade chip that Cliff will trade at the right time. Remember, one of his first moves was to trade away Grant Fuhr. Cliff is saying the right things right now, but I think the future in net isn’t spelled V E S A.
In the 2011-2012 season the obligations are fewer by one Tomas Kaberle. Either season, not so much difference. Cliff changed 10 faces this year. I think the revolving door will continue until the right pieces start to fall into place. From this seat, not nearly as many of the names listed above will be around when it counts, but that is one mans opinion.
So there you have it folks. There isn’t much on the farm as far as talent goes. Who will be around the next time the Leafs are relevant in the NHL playoffs?