How Will the Leafs Recover Offense?
The Toronto Maple Leafs traded away Ian White, Jason Blake, Matt Stajan, Jamal Mayers and Niklas Hagman accounting for 38 percent of their offense. What will the team do to replace the four missing forwards?
When questioned GM Brian Burke mentioned the one forward acquired, Fredrik Sjostrom, as one of the players likely to fill the void. Known mostly for his penalty killing ability Sjostrom will probably play more than in Calgary, where he found himself a healthy scratch on numerous occasions.
Recent healthy scratch John Mitchell also should be reinserted into the lineup and can hopefully keep his job with a return to his early season form. The other two players needed most likely will be Viktor Stalberg, Rickard Wallin or Christian Hanson.
Needless to say these four players will not make up the scoring lost. The Leafs lose their top goal scorer and their fourth, sixth and eighth leading scorers putting a gigantic hole in the offense. The return of Mikhail Grabovski should help but it will not be the answer.
Burke mentioned the shop being open for business which should mean a forward or two needs to be acquired at some point. If the Leafs have serious interest in making the playoffs they must also improve their forward core. Listed below are the expected forward lines after both trades.
Alexei Ponikarovsky – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Nikolai Kulemin – John Mitchell – Viktor Stalberg
Wayne Primeau – Lee Stempniak – Christian Hanson
Jay Rosehill/Fredrik Sjostrom – Rickard Wallin – Colton Orr
Probably the weakest forward core in the League with a lot of room for improvement. Nazem Kadri looks like a reasonable candidate to make this roster out of training camp next season at this point.