If I'm the Leafs…

As I am sure you are all aware, tomorrow is free agent day. As some of you know, I am a Leaf fan but I live in Ottawa so am intimately aware of all the happenings in Senator land. The Senators are in a tough situation heading into the free agent period. As of right now they have close to $42 million spent on 16 players with at least another million dollars committed to Saprykin should Saprykin want to sign his qualifying offer. They have 3 restricted free agents that they likely want to re-sign in Ray Emery, Chris Kelly and Christoph Schubert. But here is there problem. Other teams are seemingly interested in putting in a qualifying offer for Emery. Rumours are that Boston is interested as might be Los Angeles or St. Louis. I am still convinced that Detroit might be interested as well as they are seemingly having trouble finding an appropriate number for Hasek. Or rather, maybe conveniently not finding an appropriate number in order to wait and see if they could get someone like Emery. Regardless, Emery might be getting as much as $4 million next year so that is going to quickly eat up Ottawa’s cap space.

So that brings me to Chris Kelly. Chris Kelly is probably my favourite player on the Senators and I don’t think he gets the respect he deserves. He is fast, feisty, great defensively, a great penalty killer and last year got 15 goals and 38 points. If I were the Leafs, I would toss some money at this guy as I think the Leafs could really use Kelly speed and penalty killing abilities. Is Kelly worth as much as Nik Antropov? Probably. If I am the Leafs I’d present Chris Kelly a 4 year offer sheet in the $1.8-2 million dollar range and see if Ottawa has the guts, or cap space, to match. The compensation for a deal in this range is only a second round pick so it is well worth it. You could even front load it and include a no-trade clause to make it even more difficult for the Senators. My guess is it is at best 50/50 whether they would match or not. Kelly is Toronto born so he might jump at the opportunity to play in his home town.

If the Leafs could sign Kelly and someone like Paul Kariya via free agency they would add a lot of speed to their lineup which is very much in need of some speed. Kelly would significantly improve the penalty kill and Paul Kariya will add a lot of offense as well as a guy who has been very good in the shoot out (12 for 18 the past 2 seasons). With those two players and Toskala in the fold and a bit of luck in the health department the Leafs should easily pass the Islanders, Thrashers and Lighting to move up several spots in the eastern conference standings next season.

This article has 4 Comments

  1. Re Kelly offer sheet:

    Good idea except for one hitch: the Leafs traded away their 2008 2nd round pick to get Perreault at the trade deadline. The CBA prohibits tendering an offer sheet unless you have the necessary picks to pay the compensation — and they have to be your own pick, too; so to make that happen the Leafs would first have to arrange a trade with Phoenix to get that 2nd rounder back.

  2. True. So send Raycroft to Phoenix for the second round pick which would save money and would also mess up another possible destination for Ottawa to send Gerber making it even more likely they wouldn’t/couldn’t match a Kelly offer sheet.

  3. Man, these speculations are hilarious. Toskala will be the question for the leafs. I highly doubt that blake will have 40 goals again, although he is skilled. But Blake is a jerk off an don the ice and many of the Islanders are probably celebrating the fact he won’t be in the dressing room next fall. The leafs NEED to make the playoffs next year. It has never made sense to me that Toronto has not made the playoffs and yet has not drafted high in the Drafts. This year will be all about Toskala because the reason I think the Leafs were always making the playoffs and the same reason the were beating the sens was goaltending. Potvin, Cujo , Belfour, whoever it was the leafs had a #1 goalie. JFJ tried to bring Raycroft in last year, and though it was a flop, I admire the fact he tried doing something. Although Raycroft was overplayed, he still didn’t steal game like the star goaltenders do. The point is that toronto can have mats, tucker, wellwood, bell, blake, etc on forward, kabs, mccabe and kubina (who i wouldn’t even think about keeping, total waste) but the BIGGEST factor of the TML’s success next season will be Toskala. If he plays well, and doesn’t have to stand on his head too too much, then he will take Toronto to the playoffs. I think toskala was a great pick-up. And I think if the leafs were smart, they’d sign him to a 2 or 3 year deal RIGHT NOW. HOWEVER, if the leafs should miss the playoffs, then there is NOOOO doubt they should FINALLY start to rebuild (forget about signing old players to long contracts, lock up the young guns, pick-up a few free agents, and actually hold on to ur draft picks and put more focus on scouting. GO SENS GO

  4. It has never made sense to me that Toronto has not made the playoffs and yet has not drafted high in the Drafts.

    That would be because you’re incapable of reading the standings at the end of the year apparently. If the Leafs finish 17th or 18th in the league (missing the playoffs of course)… then they would pick 13th… which is where they’ve picked the past 2 seasons. To get a top pick in the draft you need to finish near the bottom 2 or 3 spots. Unfortunately for you this isn’t the case I guess? Think about it more before you type in future please AJ.

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