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Five key questions for Leaf fans to ponder—and answer

If you’re interested in some recent VLM posts…
  • How close are the Leafs from this picture (envision Dion Phaneuf holding the Stanley Cup…)
  • Your favorite NHL team to hate come playoff time

As we’ve said here in recent days, things are pretty quiet in the Leaf part of the hockey world, but there is always something to debate, right?

Viewing the current NHL playoffs reminds us just how hard it is to advance to the finals—something our Maple Leafs haven’t quite been able to do since, let’s say it again, 1967. Some of the teams that we see as being most “talented” on paper—Vancouver, Detroit, San Jose, Boston and Chicago (that list includes the two most recent Stanley Cup champions)—are out of the picture already.  It’s tough, and it nudges us to reflect on just how far the Leafs will have to come to really be in that “league”.

So, with that reality check in mind, let’s open this forum to think on some questions that the Leafs will face this summer.

Where do you stand on the following?
  1. If the Leafs solve only one major “problem area” this summer, which one does it have to be—goaltending, a stud defenseman or a front-line centre?
  2. If it’s a goalie, which goaltender does Burke absolutely have to get his hands on?
  3. Which contract or contracts must the Leafs move one way or another to clear up cap space—Komisarek, Connolly, Lombardi, McArthur?  Someone else…?
  4. Is Schenn a piece you have to keep, or is now the time to move him when his value is still there?
  5. Since the Habs are plucking Rick Dudley from our management staff, is there a solid personnel guy out there you’d love to see Burke hire to replace Dudley?
 A bonus question: while it is not required (though compensation was often paid in the past when executives moved while under contract), should the Leafs be compensated by Montreal for the loss of Dudley?

And if you're following the Marlies, which prospect should be given every chance to make the Leafs this coming October?

I look forward to hearing your views.


  1. 1. Goalie
    2. Lu I suppose. I actually think Scrivens should get a chance, but after the debacle last year it makes sense to find a veteran.
    3. Not sure of cap issues. Lombardi, McArthur if we have to.
    4. Not this again--yes, we keep him and never let him go.
    5. There are plenty of good people in the office already. Use the salary savings to finance streaming games live and free over the interweb
    Bonus: Maybe we should be paying them... Nah, we'll manage.

  2. I'm guessing a lot of Leaf supporters want to see us take a run at Luongo...Scrivens has certainly played some good hockey for the Marlies this spring...

    I wonder if your view on Schenn is one that is felt by a lot of Leaf fans? Thanks Anon.

  3. 1) i feel goaltending problem needs to be the primary focus. too many soft-goals this season. reimer MAY have what it takes (i feel he never recovered this season from his 'non' concussion injury, but if he's 100% come fall, he may be our man). meanwhile, gus is done (moments of brilliance, but no consistency).
    2) if management/coaching feels reimer is 100%, then i'm comfortable moving ahead with him! in fact, to me this would be preferable over signing luongo due to his huge/ugly contract and his current age. (i wonder if philly is second-guessing the bryz contract).
    3) i wouldn't really 'miss' komisarek, connolly, lombardi, armstrong... gotta create some cap-space! that being said, komisarek may come-around under carlyle. mcarthur, kulemin and grabbo need to find the magic again.
    4) ayyy... i would keep schenn. i think the potential is still there! isn't he always near the top in the league with hits? he needs to show more passion & self-confidence out there on the ice dammit! i want opposing teams to FEAR him and his punishing-hits!
    5) i don't know enough about management... you seem to know everything about the leafs... put in your application michael, and i'll forward a letter of recommendation from my dental office. haha.
    bonus) marlies: the leafs have a bit of a bottle-neck with prospects... kadri... he was drafted what... four years ago now? colborne, frattin, d'amigo, even scrivens... all chomping at the bit. something's gotta give!

  4. It's funny., Alex C...I like Reimer too. I just feel he will come back strong. Then, if we do bring in that "veteran" goalie, when will he ever play? Will we then stunt his development?

    I believe they will bring in another guy, but it's one of those off-season questions, for sure.

    Goalie growth is not always straight up. Often there are potholes along the way. We'll see if Reimer can rebound fully.

    I agree with you on Komisarek, though I realize I've said this kind of thing before. Will Carlyle made a difference for him? It's hard to know.

    My guess is your thought on Schenn represents what a lot of Leaf fans feel. They want to like Schenn, want him to be as good as we sense he can be- not see him develop somewhere else!

    As for number 5- thank you for the thought Alex! I think my "application" would end up in the "don't call us, we'll call you" pile....

  5. 1) Goalie
    2) Hard question. I'm scared of Lu's contract, but I'm more scared of piss poor goaltending. Get Lu.
    3) If Komi could disappear I'd be happy. Others I don't mind as long as they're done next season (like Connelly) and they only need to be moved if better options become available.
    4)Schenn's not the player we thought he was, but his value has bottomed out. Bad time to trade him. Let him work on his footspeed, abc give him a go next year
    5) There's too many cooks in the kitchen. I'd rather someone else absorb his duties, so many voiced may have led to a disjointed vision for the future.

  6. Interesting, Anon.

    There does seem to be genuine interest in the Leafs making a run at getting Luongo....

    I wonder if others also feel we are top-heavy in terms of management voices?

  7. 1) Goaltending
    2) Give Harding a shot at #1, you can sign him to a shorter contract and still allow Reimer the chance to blossom. Plus, I think Harding can be had for cheap. I'm scared of Luongo's term.
    3) Komisarek without a doubt.
    4) KEEP SCHENN. He just needs to gain a bit of mobility and confidence.
    5) Burke has compiled 3-4 good people in the front office, and he'll continue to assemble more if they come available. The Leafs front office seems to be like the TSN Panel for unemployed coaches --- a chance to stay in the game until you hook up with a new job. That kind of goodwill comes back in the future.

  8. 1. Goaltending
    2. Depends on who’s available and what price, but the obvious choice is Luongo
    3. Komisarek, Lombardi
    4. Depends on offers, but unless you’re blown away, keep Schenn – he’ll improve
    5. Don’t we already have 7 of them?
    6. Based on Marlies playoffs: Holzer, D’Amigo, Scrivens

  9. Harding's name has certainly come up here a number of times, Anon. And that's another voice of support for Schenn.


  10. There's a lot of support for keeping Schenn, Dan. And I can't argue with that. I've said here many times, I hate the idea of sending away young defensemen- especially those with legit potential.

    As for the front office, we already have the legal limit, one would think!

    Thanks Dan.

  11. 1. If the Leafs solve only one major “problem area” this summer, which one does it have to be—goaltending, a stud defenseman or a front-line centre?
    It MUST be goaltending here. I’ve never seen a stud D or a super-goal scorer carry a team into the playoffs and past a number of rounds. This happens with such regularity in hockey, it seems so obvious to me, I don’t know how leafs GMs haven’t sought one since Belfour.
    2. If it’s a goalie, which goaltender does Burke absolutely have to get his hands on?
    This may depend on the new CBA. I’d be quick to say Luongo, but that would be a lot easier if we could stash the cap hit in the AHL towards the end of his contract. However, it seems like this will be quashed in the new CBA. As a bit of a dark horse, I’d say try to pick up Montoya as an FA.
    3. Which contract or contracts must the Leafs move one way or another to clear up cap space—Komisarek, Connolly, Lombardi, McArthur? Someone else…?
    Komi. At least the others get (semi-)regular ice time. They are contributors. Komi is literally a black hole eating away at the cap space we have.
    4. Is Schenn a piece you have to keep, or is now the time to move him when his value is still there?
    Last summer, obviously easy to say in retrospect, would have been amazing to move him. Watching him all of this season, he just doesn’t seem to have the awareness on the ice. He seemed lost on a countless numbers of GAs on Toronto.
    5. Since the Habs are plucking Rick Dudley from our management staff, is there a solid personnel guy out there you’d love to see Burke hire to replace Dudley?
    Bob Mackenzie! This guy knows everything about hockey. But seriously, getting great European scouts would be a big help I think. The Leafs have not made a great draft picks in too many years to count (and don’t even suggest Schenn is a great pick…look what came after him).

  12. 1) Goaltending for sure, enough is enough. This past season our goaltenders were ranked 32nd and 38th in a 30 team league. And that is better than usual.Nothing against Reimer but it would be nice to have a veteran that can at least crack the top 30.
    2) Mikka Kiprusoff or Tim Thomas while we work on a home grown solution
    3) Oh boy. Connolly, Armstrong, Lombardi,
    4) Move him only if you get a key piece in return
    5) Status quo. Not sure that Burke listens to anyone anyway.

  13. Montoya is an interesting thought, Deuce. I noticed that he played some good games for a not-very-strong Islander team this past season. The former Team U.S.A. junior goalie might attract some interest out there.

    I hear you on Komi and Schenn. As I mentioned above and in many earlier posts, I've been hoping on Komisarek for a long time now, believing he was always right on the verge of really turning the corner here and playing more like he did with the Habs.

    Schenn may still progress. The guy is so young to have four years behind him in the league already.

    I don't know enough about our European scouting presence. I thought we were strong in that area many years ago when Hedberg was in charge.

    Good stuff. Thanks Deuce.

  14. cbh747- your answer on number 1 makes it sound like our guys were playing in another league! Made me smile...

    We've talked about Kipper and TT here in the past few weeks as possibilities, yes. (If I had to guess, I would think Kiprusoff would be the more likely of the two...)

    Holzer does seem on the doorstep...

    Thanks cbh747- I always look forward to your posts here....

  15. 1) Top Centre - potent goal production can smooth over shaky goaltending in some situations. Playing with a lead can also change the dynamic of the game, and there were not too many occasions over the last 20 games where Leafs played with a lead

    2) If I had to suggest a goalie to get (to qualify, I think a more experienced goalie is needed, just not as top priority) I'd suggest Vokoun or Harding. Someone you can sign to a shorter, 2-3 year window that will not have to be the starter for an overpowering number of games. Someone capable of carrying a heavy workload, without having to rely on them to do so, and one that will enable the team to get a fair look at the goalies in the system (Reimer, Scrivens, Rynnas, Owuya).

    3)Contractually, Komisarek is the most glaring big contract, but he did show stretches of usefulness over the season and may fit better into Carlyle's system. For ones to move, I'd look at MacArthur (3.25M), Armstrong (3M) as contracts that could be traded away (although the return on injury-cursed Armstrong may be too low to bother) or Lombardi's 3.75M to be tucked away on the Marlies.

    4)Nobody on this roster should be considered untouchable. That said, Schenn's perceived value is probably lower than it's ever been so there may not be much in the market in return.

    5)I don't know enough about Dudley's role or available candidates to comment.

  16. That's a well thought-out post, Horus.

    Others have also cited Komi's work under Carlyle. Vokoun had some really good games early-mid year for the Caps, as I recall, then things seemed to go south, including with injuries. Some observers really like Harding, who should not cost a mint.

    I strongly believe they will work to bring a centre in. Whether it will be one of the "big names", I don't know.

    I hear you n number 4.

    Thanks Horus.

  17. 1. Goaltending. I've stated this before and I now have a quote "A good goaltender may not be the recipe for success but not having one is a recipe for failure".
    2. Absolute really depends on the price. Luongo is absolutely the best option rumoured to be available.
    3. Given his continued chances and the time he has been given to rebound, Komisarek. That is 3 years we have seen him downward spiral and $4.5M the Leafs could use better. Plus he gets removed from a position already filled.
    4. Schenn is a piece you have to move if the value is equal and the return fills a void. No picks, no bottom six, no other defensemen. I'm still in favour of revisiting the JVR deal and somehow getting Bobrovsky in it if Luongo cannot be had.
    5. This subject is a little touchy. It is 100% in the teams power to allow/decline a person in subject to be courted. The resulting yes or no may sour the mouths of that subject. Burke has been a good man in stating "He wouldn't hold back any person for pursuing an opportunity" and I admire that.

    I think where the issue lays is in what the compensation should be. A draft pick? Could the team make the other take on a contract as well, like Lombardi for example? Could they swap management for roster players? Could we get real savvy and have a Burke like line of thought and have a players cap count on another teams but still retain the player, example: Lombardi counts on the Habs cap but we still retain Lombardi while the Habs still retain the roster spot. Of course teams are still limited to the roster limit and Lombardi doesn't equal a 24th roster player free. He is the 23rd man but we're paying for 22.

  18. Michael:

    The Leafs have stud defenceman. They have one of the best dcores in the league and it will show once Carlyle get's his systems working with them and get a goalie that A) doesn't have confidence issues or B) doesn't get a concussion 5 games into the season.

    Regarding other teams saying that we are too top-heavy in terms of management voices? Absolutely not. The President of the OHL said Toronto has the best front office in the league. That was before we signed up Dudley.

  19. Thanks Skill2Envy.

    Goaltending (and Luongo's name) have certainly been coming up here today...That chorus may grow as we get closer to the draft and UFA season.

    I seem to recall your view on Schenn before.

    On your last point- it sounds like Burke and some other GM's will be pushing the league on the compensation issue. Could get interesting. You present some unconventional but potentially plausible solutions.

  20. Thanks for chiming in on this topic, Anon. Hopefully what you allude to- a young "D" to go along with solid goaltending and Carlyle's approach will make for consistent improvement.