Sunday, 10 July 2011

Toronto Maple Leafs - Off Season Thoughts.

I'm going to be honest. I am a very optimistic Leafs fan. I am one of those guys who in past years thought, "Hey maybe we can grab a 7th or 8th seed." And while I am not afraid to admit that, I also came to terms thatwhen Brian Burke took over that this team needed a full makeover, and while I commend Brian Burke on being able to completely revamp our farm system and actually bring in young studs (Kessel, Phaneuf, Kadri), I believe that this off season has been completely counter productive. I was okay with the Kessel trade. We got a potential 40-50 goal scorer for 3 unproven commodities. However at the same time I thought that they'd be around the 10th pick. But still I defended Burke. However we all knew the Leafs needed that 1st line centre for Kessel.  In my opinion we still do not have one so that is a failure in and within itself. But aside from that let me explain what I hate about the Leafs off season so far.

First off, the draft. I WAS PISSED! Okay can somebody here please explain the rationale of trading up 8 spots to draft a 3rd liner. We need scoring and Burke should have gone with the best scorer on the board. I do not care if I am not a scout, but why the hell would you trade a late first and early second rounder to take a third liner while there will be plenty of third liners on the board in the 2nd round. A top 6 player is a commodity in the NHL and lets be serious they are harder to sign than the average 3rd liner. We are a team desperate for goal scoring and a playmaker. You have Zack Phillips on the board. A 90 point centre with a memorial cup on his resume, a guy with a chance to be the next Adam Oates and yet you draft a harder hitting Colby Armstrong like player in Tyler Biggs who may have been there at 25. SMH. Moving on. Stuart Percy I am okay with but lets be honest. He could have been had at number 30. At pick 39 is where you can take your 3rd liner. There were plenty on the board and this included Brandon Saad who was considered a top 5 pick before the season and scored at a point per game pace in the OHL. He has 1st line potential but if that fails, can play on the third line like Tyler Biggs. So instead of Biggs and Percy we could damn well have had Phillips, Percy and Saad. Huh. Shoot me now.

Now we move on to free agency where everyone and their mother in T.O wanted Brad Richards. Let me say this. Brad Richards was never coming to Toronto. He had his mind made up from the trade deadline. I am not going to get into the whole Burke in Afghanistan thing because the fact is we have things nowadays called computers and telephones. Anyways,  I get that Richards wasn't coming here and I doubt Stamkos, Malkin and Parise were available for a trade. But here is the thing for a rebuilding team what was the point of adding Tim Connolly. Brian Burke said himself that he wants to build a winner, not a team that makes it as an 8th seed and gets their asses handed to them. So why Connolly Mr.Burke? He improves the team to the point where we can possibly make the playoffs but at the same time fails to deliver what we need most. AN ELITE PLAYER. If you want to win the cup people you need an ELITE PLAYER. Pittsburgh had Crosby, Malkin, Gonchar and Fleury, Chicago had Toews, Keith, Seabrook, Hossa and Kane, Detroit had Zetterberg, Lindstrom and Datsyuk while even Boston had Tim Thomas and Zdeno Chara. Had they had Marc Savard, a 90 point player then there is no doubt they are the favourite going into that cup final versus Vancouver. Who do the Leafs have I ask? A rookie goalie who captured the hearts of an entire city, a young shutdown defenseman, a sniper without a great centre and a former star defenceman who is trying to get back in the groove. The Leafs are full of good players, not elite. The Schenns, Kessels, Phaneufs, and Kulemins are great pieces but where are our point per game players or 60 point defenceman. We only have potentially one of those unless Kadri in the next two years turns into a 90 point guy.

My point here is simple. Why not refrain from signing Connolly and hope for a bottom 5 pick where we can get ourselves that ELITE player, like a Nail Yakupov or his teammate Alex Galchenyuk who is a traditional centre? You tell me would you rather lose for the next 3 years and win a cup in 5 or just make the playoffs as a fringe team and never advance past the second round. Leave comments at the bottom and I'll get back to you.

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