For the first time since the Quinn Era began, the leafs will NOT make the playoffs.Sure they are close in the race for 8th place, but lets face it...this is a defeated team.For the first time in his entire stay with the Leafs, I see frustration in Mats Sundin's eyes.Especially after winning gold in Turino, I ahve notice Mats hitting and aggressively going afterthe puck, where in the past, he would allow his linemates to get in there and fight for the puck.In Friday's games versus the Sabres, I will not for get Sundin hammering his stick on the icelate in the game demanding Steen to pass it to him - an indication of a lack of confidence in him.Not to mention Mats taking back to back interference penalties late in the second period.
So what do we do? Remember Pat Burns when his luck ran out? That's right...time to break up the Leafs.The problem now is that, they don't have anyone that other GMs want.
If I were in charge, I would do my best to move Belfour for whatever you can. But his poor play, and massiveclub option for next year will probably stop any trade form happening. He also has a no-trade clause, which willonly get waived if the other picks up next seasons contract. Nice going Eddie, looks like you are gonna be stuckin Toronto as a $4.5 Million backup goalie on a team going nowhere.
Secondly, I would seriously consider moving Tucker. Outside of Mats, he is the Leafs best asset. I can see himmoved to Calgary, or Edmonton. I also, think moving McCabe is right ther with Tucker. With Kaberle already already signed, I can't see McCabe at +$5 Million / year for 5 years. He is not that good defensively in the first place.Again, I can say that Calgary and Edmonton as destinations.
Everyone else can all be let go at the end of the season, as most of the roster are free agents.
Finally, if a good opportunity comes up, and a strong deal is in the making, the Leafs must consider moving Mats Sundin.Get some young players in return, draft picks and rebuild. Because either way, he cannot help the Leafs in the near future.And nor is there any young players that can come up and play with him. The biggest failure of Leaf management has been the inability to add wingers of star quality to play with him over his stay. Neither Roberts or Mogilny cut it either. Imagine if the two were re-signed?One is injured (Roberts), and the other can't play for the Devils(Mogilny).
As for potential free agents, I would target Samsonov, Joikinen, Havlat, Legwand, and Savard up front, and Morris and Gauthier on the blueline.
But what players would come here if ther is no McCabe, Tucker, and most of all No Sundin?