Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Shiv on 12/18/10 at 02:32 PM ET
There is a time bomb ticking away in Toronto. And its inevitability is…well, inevitable.
The Leafs’ Cup drought is going to extend beyond 50 years. How could it not?
The Leafs exist in a world with Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. Pavel Datsyuk and Jonathan Toews. Eric Staal and Ryan Getzlaf. Mike Richards and Steven Stamkos.
Datsyuk is the only player above not drafted in the first-round. But ask any GM in the NHL about which forward they would pick first to win the Stanley Cup today and Datsyuk would surely chalk up a few votes, regardless of how obvious a choice Crosby or Ovechkin may seem.
Tonight the Leafs head into GM Place in Vancouver to take on a team that has 10 former 1st Rounders in their line up. Ironically, two of those 1st Rounders happen to be Henrik and Daniel Sedin, a duo that Brian Burke went out of his way to secure in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft.
In Toronto, Brian Burke adopted almost the opposite approach with the Kessel trade. It’s a loss. Move on folks. Nothing new to see.
But what is apparent is that the core the Maple Leafs have in place of Kessel, Schenn, Kadri, Phaneuf and Gustavsson will not be able to make any sort of run in the playoffs. They are just not enough.
Trade and Free Agency seem like meek options at best to strengthen said core. No team is going to part with a player like Jeff Carter for Tomas Kaberle anymore. And free agency most often involves overpaying for players – a recipe for disaster in the salary cap world (see Komisarek).
The draft is the only viable option. The fact that the Leafs will not have a pick in the 1st Round this year again means that the Leafs will not be able to properly contend for the Cup till at least 2015 and that is being extremely generous.
The time bomb that is ticking away will inevitably go off before that.
The first and obvious domino to fall will be Ron Wilson. Brian Burke will have to fire Wilson regardless of how much he claims to support his Coach.
Roster changes will come too. Brian Burke can’t afford to not make moves and wait to build through the draft – he already has too many chips in the pot to walk away from his less-than-5-year-plan-that-is-going-to-take-more-than-5-years-anyway plan.
Odds are no matter what Burke does, he will be dismissed before the Leafs are ready to put a competitive product on the ice.
What is unfortunate is that the Toronto Maple Leafs will continue to be the most valuable franchise in all of hockey, regardless of the fact that the drought is going to extend beyond 50 years. Fans will continue to expend time, money and energy on this team.
But since when has the fruitlessness of such investment ever stopped Leaf Nation?
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