With the end of the NHL postseason less than a week away, and the draft and free agency rapidly approaching, it’s no secret that Brian Burke is likely planning to be one of the most active GMs in the league this summer. Over the next few days, I’m going to take a look at each division, and discuss the needs of each team, along with players the Leafs could target.
Disclaimer: These are not rumors based on any sources, simply speculation based on what the Leafs need, have to offer, and could be looking for in a trade partner. Current cap space does not take into account the expected increase which will go into effect for the 2011-12 season.
Anaheim Ducks: 17 players under contract; Current Cap Space: $9.6 million
The Ducks will obviously wait for Teemu Selanne’s decision on retirement before they have their offseason gameplan fully drawn out, but with their defensive corps pretty well-stocked with both young talent and veteran experience, if they’re looking to upgrade anywhere, it will most likely be in net. Jonas Hiller’s questionable health remains a concern, while they could use some secondary scoring to fill in behind what became one of the best units in hockey in Perry-Getzlaf-Ryan. Aside from those players, which are unlikely to be moved, there’s no one that the Leafs would really covet.
Dallas Stars: 17 players under contract; Current Cap Space: $32.1 million
With Brad Richards soon to be playing somewhere else, the Stars will have plenty of space to work with this summer. Unfortunately for them, their unstable ownership situation will probably keep their spending closer to the cap floor than the ceiling, and they probably won’t be looking to add any more salary. As far as targets go, the Leafs could potentially have interest in guys like Mike Ribeiro or veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas. However, I don’t think the Stars will be looking to deal what is left of their offensive talent (not that I’d want Ribeiro on the squad anyways), and I don’t think Burke would be interested in making a trade solely for Robidas – at least if it involved sending anything significant back in return, which it probably would.
Los Angeles Kings: 10 players under contract; Current Cap Space: $30.5 million
Dean Lombardi has been trying and trying to get this club over the hump for the past few seasons, but it just hasn’t happened for them, for whatever reason. The primary concern for them at this point in time will be locking up RFA defenseman Drew Doughty. However, they also have just 9 forwards under contract at the moment, and are expected to at least throw their hats in the Brad Richards sweepstakes. Someone Brian Burke has been reported to have interest in time and again, is Wayne Simmonds, who will be a restricted free agent. Not that the Kings are about to let Simmonds walk, but with all the talk that Burke could be in the market to make a splash with an offer sheet, I wouldn’t say it’s out of the realm of possibility, but would probably result in Simmonds being overpaid. As far as trades go, the positions of strength that the leafs can deal from are goaltending and defense – two things the Kings don’t need. Don’t expect Lombardi and Burke to be blowing up each other’s Blackberries.
Phoenix Coyotes: 14 players under contract; Current Cap Space: $28.3 million
With Ilya Bryzgalov’s rights dealt to Philadelphia this week, the Coyotes are certainly in the market for a keeper, with Jason LaBarbera their only guy on the roster at the moment. Unfortunately, they really don’t have anyone that would be appealing to the Leafs. Martin Hanzal is a great value to a cash-strapped team like the Coyotes, signed at under $2 million a year, and while finding a goalie has to be priority number one for Phoenix, the re-signing of Keith Yandle, their All-Star restricted free agent defenseman, has to be near the top of the list as well. Other free agents that could interest Burke include Vernon Fiddler, a 20-30 point scorer who would provide some much-needed help on the PK.
San Jose Sharks: 14 players under contract; Current Cap Space: $7.6 million
Every year that the Sharks go without winning a Cup, there’s someone out there wondering if this is the offseason that they finally blow it up. I don’t think that’s the case right now, but they may have to make a few adjustments financially. Their top line of Heatley-Thornton-Marleau commands a total of $21.4 million, while Dan Boyle and Joe Pavelski combine for over $10 million a season. The Sharks have a number of d-men up for free agency, including former Leaf Ian White, who I think could be in Burke’s sights. He’d be a less expensive free agent option than the likes of Kevin Bieksa or Andrei Markov. The obvious target in terms of trade talk with the Sharks would be Joe Pavelski, but the cost would be pretty damn high for a 26-year old center with the kind of talent that Pavelski brings to the table, probably something along the lines of Kadri + Gunnarsson, etc.
Let me know what you think – will Burke make a run at any of the restricted free agents like Yandle, Simmonds or Devin Setoguchi? Would the Sharks consider trading Joe Pavelski? Is there someone else in the division you think Burke should target this summer?
Topics: Anaheim Ducks, Brad Richards, Brian Burke, Dallas Stars, Devin Setoguchi, Ian White, Ilya Bryzgalov, Joe Pavelski, Keith Yandle, Los Angeles Kings, Martin Hanzal, Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix Coyotes, San Jose Sharks, Stephane Robidas, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vernon Fiddler, Wayne Simmonds