KK Members Blog

KK Members Blog

Team USA North

08/27/2010 at 4:15pm EDT

The fate of Head Coach Ron Wilson is a major issue looming over the Maple Leafs as the new season approaches. His job is secure for now, but consensus is that if the Leafs put together a start as poor as last season’s, Wilson will be out by December.

The work Wilson got out of the Leafs in 09-10 was some of the worst the city has seen in years, but in a three week stint in February, Wilson coached a rookie squad of Olympians all the way to overtime in the gold medal game against the best team in the tournament. Observing the levels of focus, commitment and execution Team USA brought to each game, it was clear the bench had bought into what Wilson – and GM Brian Burke – were selling.

The Olympic Games left Leaf fans hoping the momentum these two old soldiers brought out of Vancouver would carry over into the Leafs dressing room. In order to capitalize on their success, the path is clear for Burke: to get as many Team USA members as possible on Toronto’s roster. No easy task, as the Olympic squad was made up of some of the best young talent in the game, but Burke was able to capitalize on the Chicago’s cap-crunch and add Kris Versteeg to the Leafs’ Team USA members Phil Kessel and Mike Komisarek, who sat out the tournament with injuries.

Bobby Ryan seems to be the next logical acquisition by ‘Team USA North’, considering that Burke was the GM who drafted him, his success in the Olympics under Wilson, and Toronto’s favourable trade relations with the Ducks. Yet for now Ryan seems committed to at least three more seasons in Anaheim, and the Leafs lack the cap space to move on him this year anyway.

There is, however, one way the Leafs can continue to grow their American contingent within the confines of their current cap constraints: signing unrestricted free agent Tim Kennedy. Although not a member of the Olympic squad, Kennedy was a standout player on Burke’s disappointing 2010 World Championship team, along with Toronto RFA Christian Hanson.

A native of nearby Buffalo, this young, talented player was surprisingly bought out by his hometown Sabres – after his strong playoff run – over a mere Sabres put Tim Kennedy on Waivers. With just over CapGeek.com Salary Index, Toronto should be able to sign both of these players, thereby allowing Kennedy to help a forward corps that is crying out for scoring.

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