Raking Leafs

Mixing metaphors and casting cliches about hockey and the Maple Leafs for the ether's pleasure since MCMLXVII.


Bouwmeester, Tavares, Burke and Reducing Turn-Around Time

Forgive me if my hypothetical plan has been articulated before, as I'm not as available to PROcrastinate as the years go by, but I think there is a chance for a quick turnaround in Leafland. Bear with me as I dream a Leaf dream.

First, the media needs to start floating the idea of Brian Burke's dying dream of signing Jay Bouwmeester in the offseason. Jay might get traded before the season is through, but if he doesn't sign a new deal, he should be free to walk. Granted 29 other teams want to sign the mobile hulk, but he would be an instant superstar in a Leaf uniform which is something that might be on his mind if I can read way too far into his father's comments about hockey in South Florida. I'll have to check the '09 UFA/FA list for other potential targets.

With Bouwmeester on the blue line, that would allow for Kaberle, Kubina and Van Ryn to be moved for assets. Kaberle is the most marketable, Kubina is the 'extra piece' for a SC contender. Van Ryn has been a pleasent surprise, but he just can't seem to stay healthy, and a defensemen with concussion issues won't be much use in the current mode of the NHL that doesn't permit wingers to be slowed down when chasing a puck to the end boards, but I digress. Bouwmeester, Schenn, Finger, Mighty White, Stralman, and Sifers makes a nice top 6. If keeping Kaberle and Kubina is possible, I'd go for that option, but I think the asset return for those two out weighs what they could provide two seasons from now.

The next element is to move assets for assets. This is a common meme, one that I have half heartedly accepted but now is a course of action I fully embrace. The only untouchables are Schenn, Kulemin, Antropov, Stajan and Schenn. The returns should be blue chippers and picks. Quantity should not be the focus, though if the deal makes sense I'd agree with several servicable players to stop gap the youth development.

The fire sale should contribute to the next element; tanking for Tavares. The Maple Leafs need a star draft pick. Too long have we watched players of world class ability move to the far reaches of the NHL, leaving barren the heartland of hockey. No longer! Burke needs to make this happen. If the lottery hands the second pick to the Leafs, pick the Swedish Pronger and work a deal with whoever picked Tavares to swap. Please, hockey gods, somehow make this happen.

Next, Burke needs to capitalize on the weakened finacial state of Tampa Bay, Phoenix and obviously, Florida. If it is a salary dump trade for a high caliber player, make it happen. Two dimes and a nickel for a quarter is always a winner. If it is an offer sheet to take advantage of a salary situation, make it happen. Scavenge. Predate. Burke needs to show his superstar colors in the ripe situation that is developing in the NHL.

If most or all of these elements come into play it would be possible for a last in the League to Play-off team turn around, a la Philadelphia via Holmgren, within a season or two. The D would be solid. Depending on what moves takes place will determine the strength and depth of the forward corps. If Toskala isn't moved, he can get a team to the play-offs. If he is moved, goal tending would be a big question mark. Pogge is looking less and less like the answer, and Rask is starting to blossom.

The Leafs don't have much waiting in the wings, but they do have some pieces. Tlusty should come around. Jimmy Hayes could develop quickly, and with his size could contribute soon. Chris DiDomenico is the type of player Burke should like. Victor Stalberg is a big body with speed. Brent Aubin could be a steal or a dud.

This might be the irrational musings of a fan who covets having a star blue liner that could be avaiable while hoping his team can re build effectively. As of now, I am unsure if these destinies are mutually exclusive. The next few months should be interesting.

01/15/09 UPDATE - Add Zetterberg to the wish list. According to this CBC article, Hank Z has rejected a Hossa money type contract over 10 years. From that, I feel comfortable interpreting that Hank isn't going to take a home town discount. And I don't blame him. He has been one of the best performance to salary bargains in the league for how long now? And not to read too much into a situation, but Zetterberg has been performing below par this year on my fantasy squad. Earlier in the year I attributed this ebb to a Cup hang over, but there might be more to it that than. Hossa is in town now. The Wings will be Pavel's team as soon as Lidstrom is done, and maybe just maybe Hank wants to run the show somewhere else. Perhaps in Toronto? Lead a turn around. Harder the challenge the greater the reward....And all he would cost the Leafs is Cap Room.

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