Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Little time left to improve the Maple Leaf lineup

With training camp set to open in less than 4 weeks, Brian Burke's plans to upgrade the on-ice talent appears to be pretty much a bust. Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong are not quite Ilya Kovalchuk and Patrick Marleau. Sure there is still lots of time until the start of the season to make a deal but he has so little to deal with and now Kaberle, his most tradeable asset is off the market.

So where will the offense come from? Well unless John Mitchell pulls a Jose Bautista and becomes the league goal scoring leader, this team is not destined to make the playoffs.

Below is a potential opening lineup barring another rookie breaking through or a late trade. I have left off Jeff Finger since he more likely to be playing with the Marlies or in Europe than the Leafs. It shows that the 6 starting defensemen will be paid more than the 12 staring forwards. No wonder scoring will be a challenge. The team is definitely bottom heavy.

The good news is that the Leafs have cap space. The cap hit for this lineup is $53.5 million. Add in Darcy Tucker's buyout and the Leafs have $5 million to spend. That means the Leafs might be eager to deal with one of the teams that are currently over the cap. Ideally the Leafs should be trying to move a big salary on the defense. It can't be Kaberle. I'm not sure how the market values Komisarek and Beauchemin but they both had weak seasons and might be difficult to trade. That pretty much leaves Gunnarsson or Schenn as trade bait.

Perhaps this team might surprise us all in the same way the Blue Jays have battled for respect and a decent record. They will need some incredible goaltending to carry this roster into the playoffs.

Forwards Left Centre Right
$21.3M Kessel Bozak Versteeg

Kulemin Grabovski Armstrong

Sjostrom Kadri Brown

Caputi Mitchell Orr

Defense Left Right
$22.8M Kaberle Phaneuf

Beauchemin Komisarek

Gunnarsson Schenn

Goalies Giguere

$7.4M Gustavsson

Spares Lebda

$2.0M Rosehill


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