Could Leafs GM Brian Burke go the offer sheet route for a scoring forward? What could be his options for a first line center? Read on for the latest.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons reported Sunday Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke wasn’t ruling out the offer sheet option, leading Simmons to speculate if Burke might pursue a big ticket RFA player like Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, New Jersey’s Zach Parise, Phoenix’s Keith Yandle, Nashville’s Shea Weber or Atlanta’s Zach Bogosian. As for UFA options, if the Leafs can’t land Brad Richards, Simmons wondered if Washington’s Brooks Laich or Philadelphia’s Ville Leino might be options worth pursuing.
TORONTO STAR: Mark Zwolinksi listed possible UFA options for Burke this summer, which included Richards, Simon Gagne, Tim Connolly, Jason Arnott and Michal Handzus, as well as potential trade partners, including the Rangers, Senators (!), Bruins, Flyers, Sharks and Devils, all of which will have limited salary cap space.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Given Burke’s well-publicized hatred of offer sheets, I’ll be very surprised if he actually went that route this summer. I agree, this year’s UFA market is thin on quality talent, especially at center, but if Burke wants to address his need for a first line center I believe he’ll go the trade route. He has a history of making major deals and goes into this year’s entry draft with depth in tradeable assets, including two first round draft picks, some decent prospects, plus perhaps a young player or two on his existing roster. Clubs like the Bruins, Sharks, Flyers, Devils and Minnesota Wild will be lacking cap space this summer and will probably look toward making salary-dumping deals, just like the Chicago Blackhawks did last summer, and those could be teams Burke targets for deals at the entry draft.
If Burke did go down the offer sheet path, forget about prying away Stamkos, Parise and Weber from their current teams. I also believe the Coyotes will retain Yandle despite their ownership woes. Bogosian might be a more viable target, but there’s no guarantee the Leafs could land him. I’m also guessing the Capitals and Flyers will re-sign Laich and Leino respectively.