Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Player Spotlight: Alexander Semin

He was snakebit in last year’s playoff series against the hated Canadiens and he fights like Donkey Kong, but ‘the other Alex’ in Washington should be far more than an afterthought for fantasy GMs this year.

Alex Semin may be the most underrated player to go in your fantasy draft this year if the Yahoo! And Hockey News fantasy rankings are to be believed. Both lists have Semin ranked outside of the top 25, despite netting 40 goals and 84 points in 73 games last year – good for an overall ranking of 4th on the 2009-10 season according the the Y! rankings. So what’s changed? Semin is still with Washington, is in another contract year, is coming off his healthiest season in his career and still possesses a shot teammates have described as better than Ovechkin’s.  You can bank on Semin putting in 80 points and (assuming your league measures this stat) and taking close to 300 shots to boot.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Would Burke Chase an RFA Next Offseason?

It was about this time last year when Brian Burke brought Toronto's most talented roster player, Phil Kessel, to the Maple Leafs.  While he's stated that he and his management considered whether the pick may be Taylor Hall, surely they didn't believe that they were giving up the second overall pick.  The Leafs should have been better than second worst, but they weren't.

Burke has repeatedly said that he would make the deal again if given the opportunity.  Would he?  Given the number of times he's been asked whether he regrets the deal, you'd have to think he'd be a little gun-shy.  But then again, he's Brian Burke and he probably doesn't give a crap what anyone else thinks.

Player Spotlight: Jarome Iginla

Remember the first time you beat your Dad at a sport? Remember how weird that was? It’s something that inevitably will happen to all fathers in sports, they get beaten by their sons. I grew up idolizing my Dad, and his ability to seemingly be good at all sports, especially hockey. So the day I realized I could skate a bit faster than him, and probably had softer hands was a sad one (he still shoots the puck harder than me). The inevitability of the transition of male dominance from father to son does not make it any less weird.

I recently had one of those “weird” feelings dawn on me when reading about Jarome Iginla – he is 33 years old. The young-upstart-warrior-captain-Calgary-fantasy-stud-muffin is 33 years old. Wow. For years Iginla has been absolutely bankable in fantasy hockey. A winger that will give your between 35-50 goals, 80-95 points, 300 plus shots, and close to 100 PIMs. At 33 he enters a precarious phase for a superstar. No longer possessing the physical gifts of his 20s, Iginla is still relied upon to lead the Flames offence. It’s weird and discomforting to think of new breed of young hockey players supplanting Iggy among the fantasy elite.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Playing the Odds: The Leafs in Net

A goaltender in hockey is as important as a quarterback in football.  Without a good one, your team is a rudderless ship.  The Leafs have been drifting since the lockout.

Earlier in the week Brendan looked at some of the moves Brian Burke has made in acquiring goaltending prospects.  He pointed out that Burke had done well to pickup goaltending prospects at no cost particularly in view of the fact that he had already brought in the world's best goaltending coach in Francois Allaire.

He also noted that picking goaltending prospects is a bit of a crap shoot.  You could get Marc-Andre Fleury at number one overall or in the same year you could get Halak at 271.  Both are good goalies but the assets used to acquire them vary widely.

Given the apparent randomness that we see with goaltending prospects, having a girth of them is a positive.  But what exactly do we have?  Who are the comparables?  What, exactly, should Leaf fans be hoping for from these free assets?  We'll have a look at some numbers below.


With fantasy drafts upcoming, aspiring GMs everywhere are pouring over stats, reading blogs (thanks), and trying to figure out who they'll take in the first five rounds.  The truth of the matter is, leagues are rarely won in the early rounds.  The players that will go in the first two rounds in most leagues could very nearly go on consensus.

The key to succeeding in fantasy hockey is grabbing guys like Stastny, Stamkos, Kopitar or M. Koivu late.  With this in mind, here's my list of guys that should go late in your draft that could have a serious impact on your success this season.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What if the Leafs Signed Kovalchuk?

I've had a lot of discussions lately with people who have been lamenting Burke's inactivity in the free agent market.  Part of this Burke has brought on himself by calling it "our draft".  Having said this, my standard response to these people is, "what could he have done?". 

The only real prize forward during this free agent period was Ilya Kovalchuk and the most common response that I hear is that Burke should have taken a more serious run at him.  What if he had?  What if he had made an offer to Kovalchuk that was strong enough to land the talented Russian sniper? 

For sake of argument, we're going to assume that Kovalchuk's cap hit falls in the $8M per season range over the next 10 years.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

One Thing Burke Got Right

As the offseason enters its twilight, Leaf fans are bracing for what may be another difficult season.  It looks like the 2010-11 Leafs will be icing a squad comprised of roughly four defensemen for every forward and goal production will once again fall on the shoulders of a select few.  This would be a fine arrangement for Toronto FC – one wonders if Brian Burke is confused about which MLSE team he is managing – but a hockey team usually requires more than one top-end forward if they hope to contend for a playoff spot.

But there is one bright spot in the Leafs strategy in this blogger’s opinion.  The acquisition of Jussi Rynnas is the latest example of an approach to developing a goaltending corps that I heartily support.  Rynnas is the third unsigned, undrafted goaltender that the Leafs have picked up in the past year (Gustavsson and Scrivens being the others).  Add fourth-round pick James Reimer to this list and I think we’re looking at an unheralded victory for the much-beleaguered Leafs GM.  Leaf fans should be applauding Burke on his strategy for a number of reasons:

1) They were all ‘free’. I won’t belabour the Leafs’ well-documented lack of high draft picks and lack of depth at forward. What I will say is that a team in the Leafs’ position does well to pick up any promising player without having to give up anything in return.

2) None of them are Vesa Toskala. Though I would sleep better at night if someone could produce a photograph of Rynnas and Toskala at the same event, just to make sure.

3) Goaltending is a crap shoot.  When it comes to young goalies, nothing can be considered a ‘sure thing’.  Of course, many of the goalies taken in the top rounds live up to their billing - Luongo (4th overall), Brodeur (20th overall) and possibly even Fleury (1st overall) are good examples.  However, many more starters seemed to come out of nowhere, like Hiller (undrafted), Nabokov (219th overall), Lundqvist (205th overall), Miller (138th) and Kiprusoff (116th).  Add to that the fact that a lot of top-rated goalies are a bust - Rick DiPietro (1st), Brent Krahn (9th) and Peter Hamerlik (84th) were all selected before Henrik Lundqvist in 2000.  Actually, King Henrik wasn’t even the first SWEDISH goaltender selected, that honour went to Mikael Tellqvist (70th).  You never know which goalie will make the leap to stardom, but like in craps, you have a better chance of winning the more times you get to throw the dice.

4) Francois Allaire.  The Leafs' goaltending coach arguably developed the modern style of goaltending while guiding two goalies (Roy and Giguere) to Stanley Cups. If anyone can help a young goalie maximize his potential, it’s this guy - give him enough chances to work some magic and I’m expecting at least one result worthy of David Blaine.

5) Francois Allaire is not Vesa Toskala.

So while the current Leafs squad might not be contending for Cup anytime soon, Burke did assemble a group that might just produce a goalie capable of taking us there.

Player Spotlight: Ryan Getzlaf

Fantasy managers take note;  Ryan Getzlaf is here to stay.

Getzlaf is huge at 6'4" and 220 lbs.  He's California's other Joe Thornton.  In terms of fantasy output, the 25 year-old centreman is even more than Thornton.

There are a few things about Getzlaf that are known.  Firstly, he's going to get a lot of assists.  Over the past three seasons he's averaged nearly 0.8 assists per game.  If you add goals into the equation, he's a 1.1 point per game producer.  That's respectable output on its own merit.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ten Things Brian Burke is Sick of Hearing About

Brian Burke is a patient man.  Just kidding, he's Irish.  Despite clear frustration at times, he's answered every question the media has thrown at him during what was expected to be a busy off-season but ended up being largely a uneventful one.

Here is a list of the top ten questions Burke is sick of answering:

10)  Do you think you have too many defensemen?  No, I don't.  I think we don't have enough forwards.

9)  Why didn't you sign Bill Sweatt?  We tried, he priced himself off this team.  Our offer was 'generous' he's just a jackass.

Monday, August 23, 2010


So your fantasy draft has come around to the late rounds – all the top talent has been taken and you're left staring at your “sleepers” list. Here below are five sleepers you should take a chance on for 2010-11.

5. Cody Hodgson – He has been a bit of an afterthought since back injuries kept him out of the Canucks line-up last season. However, he should be healthy this season and remains a top end prospect. While Vancouver does have a deep team he could be used as trade bait at the deadline freeing up a top 6 role for him on another team.

4. Erik Karlsson – The Senators defenseman has rounded into form as the quarterback on the power play – But what about Gonchar? At his age, and with the mileage he has on him from numerous playoff runs I don’t see him playing a full season. Karlsson had 26 points in the final 60 games last season, look for him to hit 45-50 this year, with nice PP numbers.

3. Derick Brassard – He was a big time sleeper last season (I know because I drafted him instead of Stamkos..... F%@K!). Even though he bombed last year, he will have every opportunity to center Rick Nash and the secondary players in Columbus are developing nicely. With an improved lineup, and a bounce back from Steve Mason, look for Brassard to be an effective 3rd or 4th center on your team.

2. Olli Jokinen – You must be Jokinen right? Not the same Olli who was run out of town last year in Calgary and looked like he lacked the hockey sense to keep up in a minor peewee game, let alone the NHL? Yep.  He signed in Calgary because he has something to prove. I think he, Iggy, and Tanguay have one monster year left and this is it. Call me crazy.

1. Alex Kovalev – Yeah, I know he's 37 years old and hasn’t been a productive fantasy player in 2 years. But there is something about him.  When he wants to, he can still score in bunches. I think Kovalev believes he can get one more contract – and don’t ever underestimate the power of money to a Russian.

Are the Leafs fantasy-relevant?

For the past few seasons, fantasy leagues everywhere have largely avoided the Toronto Maple Leafs.  Sure, some guys were certainly drafted in all but the shallowest of leagues (Kessel, Kaberle) and some were probably taken on a dice roll (Grabovski, Stajan, Ponikarovsky).  Heck, some guys probably bounced between waivers and rosters throughout the year (Hagman, Gunnarsson, Gustavsson). 

For the most part however the Leafs were treated as though they had pox - they were to be avoided at all costs.

The reasons for this abound; not enough talent, a coach that shuffles lines regularly and goaltending that meant +/- that could rival the temperatures of Yukon winters.  Having said this, the seasons are starting to change in Leafland.

Gone are the top-line-minute-eaters like Stajan and to a lesser extent Ponikarovsky.  These players have been replaced with youngblood that have the chance to put up some very respectable fantasy numbers.  Let's have a look at some of the guys to watch for.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Phil Kessel, 40 Goal Scorer

I'd written so much about the defense in the buildup to the Kaberle non-trade that I've almost entirely neglected our forward core.  Darren put up a troll-piece about the Leafs recently and I think I need to address something he said.

Phil Kessel is Thomas Vanek - seriously, he is. Look at their stats. We don’t have an elite scorer in the NHL – we have a good player. Kessel is a nice player to watch, and certainly will score a few goals. But I project his maximum output to be that of Mr. Vanek. 35-40 goals and 70 points. That will be a down year for Tyler Seguin by the way.
Ok, interesting point.  Let's look at it a little bit - maybe a bit more optimistically.

Monday, August 16, 2010

California (and Arizona and Texas) Gurls

The offseason wrap-up continues with a look at the left-est of the left coast. Some might say hockey doesn't belong in California and the southern 'States...that it's a waste of time to try to sell the game to SoCal and Tay-hass and 'Zona.

This is an extremely short-sighted and selfish viewpoint. Think about it, if we moved these teams north to more traditional "hockey markets", exactly WHERE will disgruntled stars demand trades to when they're sick of playing in Canada, huh? Buffalo?!? Get real, naive reader...

Onward to...

The Western Conference – Pacific Division

Kaberle Stays - Who Goes?

Much to my surprise Tomas Kaberle will be a Toronto Maple Leaf to start the season.  Having Kaberle in the lineup doesn't disappoint me in the least - having a forward group that looks like ours does bothers me more than a little.

Having said this, what's done is done.  Our powerplay quarterback will continue feathering passes to Dion Phaneuf on the man advantage and playing soft defense on the cycle.  C'est la vie.

 So where does this leave us?  Currently, we're spending $27,775,000 on our 8 NHL defensemen and another $7,350,000 on goaltending:  $35,125,000 of a 59.4 million dollar salary cap.  That's a lot of money to keep pucks out of the net.

With Kaberle sticking around and three solid defensive prospects on entry-level salaries in Mikus, Holzer and Aulie, Burke will likely try and move a defenseman.  Let's have a quick look at each guy's prospects.

Looking Back at Brian Burke's Offseason Wish List

At the beginning of May BCP presented what we felt would be Brian Burke's offseason wish list.  With the Kaberle deal completed, we'd like to review the list and see what the GM was able to achieve in his second offseason at the helm.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

K-Day: Tomas Kaberle Trade Window Coming to a Close

As Leaf fans wait impatiently for Kaberle to move, Brian Burke said this morning that without an improvement in the offers he's received thus far, Kaberle will remain a Maple Leaf.

Personally, I find it hard to believe that this will be the case for several reasons.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Brian Burke vs. A Wheel of Brie

Prompted by Curt’s Brian Burke Backslap I have taken it upon myself to post this rebuttal. I do so on behalf of two vastly underrepresented groups on Maple Leafs blogs and message boards: Non-Leafs fans and Leafs Fans Who Recognize Brian Burke’s Incompetence.

Curt’s thesis, if I understood correctly, was that Brian Burke has improved the prospect depth of the organization since he took over in November 2008. Apart from some shady logic (the existence of a “Top 10” prospects in the organization doesn’t mean that those 10 prospects are necessarily good), maybe that’s true – heaven knows it couldn’t get any worse than it was then. Does that mean, however, that Brian Burke has done a good job? I say no. And to prove it, I’m going to stage the Ultimate Face-Off:


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Rounding Out the Leafs' Lineup: Defense

Yesterday, I looked at the Leaf forward corps and tried to read the tea leaves to find out who would be playing where at the beginning and nearer to the end of the season.  My guesses met with some harsh criticism at times (where's John Mitchell!!!!1) which is exactly the kind of debate I'd love to encourage in the comments section.  I love to see 'em so please, keep me honest!

Today, I'd like to do the same exercise with the defense.  Probably not as exciting as there's a bit more certainty back there but let's at least look at what we've got.

Player Spotlight: Anze Kopitar

It seems like just yesterday Toews was hoisting Lord Stanley over his head yelling “Hoss! Hoss!” (Great moment by the way, really showed Toews maturity as a captain) but it’s already August 11th. If you’re like me, and Fantasy Hockey is a year round occupation, the chances are you’ve already started to think about your upcoming draft in the fall.

With that in mind – I’m going to provide weekly player spotlights on some players you’d be advised to keep a close eye on come draft day.

First up, none other than the BIG Slovenian himself – Anze (the Giant) Kopitar.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Rounding Out the Leafs' Lineup: Forwards

We're getting close to zero-hour.  Tomas Kaberle will be traded and I will have something to write about.  Until then, I'll kill more time speculating. 

I think that at this point, with free agency winding down and most of our RFAs signed, it's safe to start looking at possible line combinations for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  I'm going to start by putting together a list of what I think the lines will be at the beginning of the season and then move on to what I think they'll look like closer to the end of the year.  Here's what I came up with.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blue and White Glasses

Let me start this post with a declaration. I am a Leafs fan. Always have been, always will be.

I watched my dad cry when Gretzky’s lazy high stick on Gilmour went unnoticed in '93. I still get goose bumps watching Potvin feed Hextall with so many left hands he started begging for the right. I refused to go to school the day after Roenick bounced us from the playoffs in OT of game 7 against the Flyers.

Yes – I bleed blue and white.

I have spent my entire life looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs through those metaphorical “Blue and White Glasses.” And for the first time ever I am going to take them off – look at my team through the eyes of pure hockey fan. I’m scared of what I’m going to see.

An Outsider’s Look Outside

Good day loyal reader(s). I’ve been asked by the head honchos of this fine publication to put together an offseason wrap-up and I’m glad to oblige herein. This task was outsourced not because of any deficiency on their parts but because I am grossly unqualified to do anything else on this site, being *gasp* not a Leafs fan.

You may be wondering what a non-Leafs fan is doing writing on a Leafs blog. If so, you’re a nosy little punk and should mind your own b...

Sorry, that was rude. I’m at little testy on this particular off-season because, in addition to not being a Leafs fan, I AM an Oilers fan. It wasn’t a good season for my boys either but that’s no excuse for me to fly off the handle. We still cool?

Good. Because I’m going to need you with me here, this is going to get complicated. You see, gentle reader, despite what the CBC would have you believe, there are teams in the NHL besides the Leafs. 29 of them. Some of them had good offseasons, some of them had bad offseasons, and some of them (New Jersey) have yet to find out from Arbitrator Richard Bloch what kind of offseason they had. 5 of these teams exist as part of a largely unknown entity (at least from Ontario-East) know as…

The Western Conference – Northwest Division

Well Done, Brian Burke: Leafs Prospect Update

Hockey's Future just updated the Toronto Maple Leafs' prospect page which is going to be the primary topic of this post.

Last week I wrote about the Leafs having too many pro-contracts - this week I'm going to look at the positives that have come with them.

Brian Burke has been criticized for looking too short term with the Leafs by bankrupting the future in the Phil Kessel trade. While hindsight suggests that that trade likely wont favour the Leafs long-term, it's tough to say that Brian Burke hasn't deepened the team's prospect pool.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Why I (over)Value Marcel Mueller

This post is inspired by a piece put together over at Yakov Mironov. If you're not already reading his stuff, I'd encourage you to check him out - he does good work. You'll find a link in the blogroll.

In his piece, Yakov talks about his favorite (or at least most overvalued) Leaf prospect, Jerry D'Amigo. BCP has always been fond of recognizing when we have what might be an overly high opinion of someone (Man Crush, Man Crush II) and with this in mind I'll begin talking about Marcel Mueller.

Marcel Mueller is a big forward at 6'3" and 220 lbs. Having just turned 22, he's also young and still developing. Last season in the DEL he picked up 56 points in 53 games making him the second leading scorer on his team. He was also +11 which ranked 4th on the team.

With Mueller, as with most undrafted European free agents, the development has occured recently and rapidly. Perhaps most exciting, Mueller picked up a total of four points at the World Championships and the Olympics on a German team that was far from offensively dynamic. Moreover, his strong showing against the highest level of competition suggests that he might be ready to make the jump to the NHL sooner rather than later.

Where should he play?

If Mueller were to make the jump to the NHL, I doubt he'd be a liability. He's a good two way player and doesn't appear to be prone to the big mistakes that you'll often see from rookies. Perhaps equally important, he doesn't try to do too much with the puck. He understands the cycle game and doesn't mind being the retriever on dump ins.

Marcel Mueller is a lot like...

In a way, he looks a lot like Luca Caputi. His size and position (LW) have led to frequent comparisons between the two players which makes sense as their skill sets are fairly similar as well. The trouble with the comparison is that they play the game differently. Caputi has shown some reluctance to use his size during his time as a Leaf and doesn't have the same prowess in the defensive zone as Mueller.

The better comparison, as I argued when the Leafs first picked him up, is Nikolai Kulemin. He has a little way to go until he gets to where Kulemin is but their styles are similar and their skill sets aren't all that different. Neither will blow you away with their speed or their shot but both of them are passable with each. They're solid two-way wingers that finish checks and win puck battles.

Where does Mueller fit in the lineup?

Burke has said that he expects Mueller to start the season in the AHL but that it's "up to him". I expect that at some point this season we see both Mueller and Kadri in the NHL which would ideally put Mueller on a third line with Colby Armstrong and Mikhail Grabovski. That's a third line I can get excited about.

So that's more or less why I really like Marcel Mueller. He doesn't have the top end potential that a Tyler Bozak does but he projects to be a decent second line player or a very good third liner. I expect he'll see some time on the Leafs this year and will likely even get some reps on the penalty kill. Can't wait to see how he does in camp and I hope he proves me right.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alexander the Great-est?

Wendel Clark led the NHL in sheer awesomeness every year he played. And even most years that he didn’t play. We can all agree on that, and if you don’t – go move to Edmonton. But my point is that you can’t prove I’m wrong because awesomeness is something that can’t be weighed or measured on any scale (in Wendel’s case maybe by moustache quality). But what about statistics that can be?

Now I don’t want to bore anyone with an economics lesson, but we all know that money doesn’t have the same value over time – John Rockefeller had a personal wealth of about a billion dollars when he died in 1937, but that was at a time when $1,000 would have bought you one of the Muskoka Five’s cottages. In today’s money, Rockefeller would have $660 billion – more than the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan could mismanage in several lifetimes.

So as we can see, comparing the wealth of billionaires from different eras requires that their wealth be adjusted to reflect the changing value of money over time. So I ask you: why should hockey stats be any different? Of course it’s easier to just say that Wayne Gretzky has the most goals in history and leave it at that - few will argue with you if you say he was the greatest goal scorer of all time anyway. But consider the changes to the game that have occurred since the NHL was formed in 1917.

In the early years snipers faced goalies who weren’t allowed to fall to the ice to stop a puck, and if they got hurt (and they didn’t wear masks after all) forwards might find themselves trying to score on a defenseman in pads, or as happened famously with Lester Patrick, on the other team’s coach. More recent examples include the transition from the all-offense-all-the-time style of play and primitive goaltending techniques of the ‘80s to the Michelin Man goalie equipment and *shudder* neutral zone trap of the ‘90s to the composite sticks and offense-minded rule changes of the 2000s. So should a goal scored in the ‘80s really count for the same as a goal scored against the ’94 Devils?

We at BCP say no. And to try to account for these differences, we selected six snipers from different eras – Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Phil Esposito, Wayne Gretzky, Brett Hull and Alexander Ovechkin. Each player (except Ovie) is a Hall of Famer and averaged around 0.5 goals per game over a reasonably long career. To reflect the era in which each of these goal-scorers played, we adjusted their average goals per game total to according to the average number of goals scored in an NHL game over the course of their career. As a result, players who played in high-scoring eras had their score adjusted downward and players who played in comparatively low-scoring eras had their score boosted. These scores were expressed as the percentage of total goals in an average game that each player would have accounted for.

Using Gordie Howe as an example; Mr. Hockey got 801 goals in 1767 NHL games, which is an average of 0.45 goals per game. In the years Howe played (1946-71 and 1979/80) there was an average of 5.95 goals scored in an NHL game. That means Gordie Howe accounted for about 7.6% of the average total number of goals scored in every game that he played.

So without further delay, here are our results;

Click the chart for a full-sized image.

Not surprisingly, Ovechkin came out on top as a result of being in the peak of his career and enjoying the benefit of playing in a more low-scoring era. But among players whose careers are over, the Golden Brett edged out the Rocket to take the title as the greatest goal scorer of any era. We also compared the first five years of Ovechkin’s career with Hull’s and found that Ovie came out with a slight edge – 11.7% vs. 11.5% - which puts him on pace to become the greatest goal scorer of any era by our measure. That leaves us with a final depressing thought – does the title of the greatest goal scorer of any era really come down to a Cold War standoff between a Russian and an Canadian-traitor-turned-American? Sidney Crosby, time to up your game – your country needs you.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What the Leafs Need Most

You think you know what the answer is, but you're wrong. It isn't help at forward -- not yet. Forwards are the end game but let's start at the beginning.

What the Leafs need most at this moment, above all, is to divest themselves of some professional contracts. The NHL has set up a 50 contract maximum that teams can carry. By my count, the Leafs have 49 professional contracts and have yet to re-sign Hanson. If Hanson gets locked in, they will have their maximum number of pro contracts and cannot take on any more players. For a team in the midst of a rebuild this is among the worst things that could happen.

The Leafs have cap space. They have ownership with deep pockets and they could conceivably take on dollars in exchange for futures. All of this is moot however if they fill their quota of pro-contracts.

Most of these contracts aren't of the 'established NHL player' variety and many are $600,000 or below. Attaching these AHL-level contracts to the Kaberle deal (or whatever other deal Brian Burke makes) is going to be critical to the team's success moving forward.

The other option is sending these 'established NHL player' contracts to teams that are struggling to meet the cap floor such as the Islanders. There aren't many contracts that meet these criteria that the Leafs would be looking to move for moving's sake. By my count, Sjostrom is really the only true candidate for this but his price tag of $750,000 and his proficiency on the penalty kill mean that this option of shipping pro-contracts for effectively nothing is probably not one that Burke would pursue.

There are a handful of minor league guys that have real NHL potential; Kadri, Mueller, Holzer, Aulie, these are the kinds of minor leaguers you love. Is Darryl Boyce at 26 a guy that should be occupying a minor league contract during a rebuild?

Many think that a top six forward might be too steep a price for Kaberle and that despite Burke's stated position of only trading him for the asking price, you have to think that an attractive package of prospects would move him to change his position. The problem is that if we can't attach some professional level contracts to the deal then any Kaberle move would have to be one-for-one.

Moreover, having professional contracts available provides Burke the opportunity to do what he's done with the Bozaks, Rynnas', Muellers and Gustavssons of this world. He can pursue attractive but unsigned free agents en masse, fire a lot of bullets, and hope that some of them hit. As things stand right now that option is temporarily unavailable and with no first round draft pick next season, it's the only avenue open to the Leafs if they want to acquire young, affordable top-six talent.

Do I think this is dire? No. I think the number of $500,000 to $600,000 contracts that we have at our disposal will allow us to shift players as needed to complete whatever trades Burke chooses to make. Where it could be problematic is in the signing of free agents where no player movement occurs. I'm sure this has already been thoroughly considered by Leafs management and that they have a plan in place should they be able to attract another Bozak-type. That said, it's another factor to consider when players like Tim Kennedy hit the waiver wire in early August.