With the lockout now over and a tentative deal agreed upon, we can now start to speculate as to what teams are going to do and who could be going where.
Lets focus mostly on the Leafs as that's the team I'm most familiar with. With injuries to Jake Gardiner (Concussion) and Korbinian Holzer (Broken Foot) Burkes hand is almost forced to sign Restricted Free Agent Cody Franson. This is almost a perfect opportunity for Franson to maximize the money and term he gets from the Leafs as they are thin on the back end.
A VERY bad thing that could come from these injuries is the addition of Morgan Reilly to the big club for more then 9 games. It would be a monumental mistake to have him play anywhere other then the WHL for the rest of this season. Sure, he's got talent but let's take a quick look at Luke Schenn. How well did that turn out? I'm a fan of Reilly, he's got immense talent and is going to look very sexy on the point with Gardiner on the PP but let's not rush this and destroy him.
Getting back to Franson, I would say its a good chance he gets a contract in or around $3.75 million over 2 years. One rumour that came out over the weekend about the new CBA is no team can walk away from $3.5 million (not exactly sure) that's award during salary arbitration so it will be a good thing if Burke can get a deal done before that comes about.
With a VERY small window before the season starts, I don't expect anything massive to happen (like a Luongo deal to Toronto) so let's focus on where the Leafs should head once this short season is done.
First thing they need to do is get of from under that albatross of a contract they gave to Mike Komisarek. He hasn't lived up to expectations and with an amnesty buyout that won't count towards the cap, Burke needs to capitalize and free up some cap space.
Next on the list is try and resign Joffery Lupul and Clarke MacArthur. Lupul is far more pressing and his deal will be determined by how well he plays this season. My guess, Lupul gets around $4.5 million over 4 years. That seems pretty fair to me and he plays well along side Kessel on the top line. Now onto MacArthur. He's a little more difficult to determine. Most people will be okay with $2.5 million (again, dependent on his performance this season) but I've heard some speculate that number could increase based on the overpayment of Grabovski just last season. If, combined, Burke can manage to re-sign both these guys for less then $7.5 million a season against the cap, I think it's a big win for the Leafs. That leaves the Leafs with roughly $15 million in open cap space to grab UFAs and re-sign their RFAs (such as Gunnersson, Holzer and Kadri)
With those guys resigned, Burke needs to look at the UFA crop and boy is it full of talent, most notably Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. Now, in a perfect world the Leafs can sign both and improve immensely but the reality is getting one of them would be nice. My preference is Getzlaf. Big, strong power forward that would fit perfectly between Phil an Joffery on the top line. I can't see how Anaheim is going to be able to afford Bobby Ryan, Perry and Getzlaf so the chances of both re-signing there are slim, but I've been wrong before. I'm of the opinion that you can give Getzlaf $5.5-$6 million a season over say, 4 years.
That all that can be worked out, the Leafs will have around $9 million to use to re-sign Gunnersson, Kadri (both musts) and Holzer. Hopefully that can be worked out and Burke can also find room for Luongo in there.
No doubt there's lots of room for improvement on this Leafs roster. The biggest is between the pipes and Luongo would be the bat candidate for that. Once that spot is filled, Burke can look into a #1 C to play between Kessel and Lupul.
Agree? Disagree? I'd love to hear for you. Follow me on twitter @jessturr
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