Ponikarovsky is a Penguin, Stempniak is a Coyote, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are overwhelmingly Brian Burke’s.
As of the trade deadline, 70% of the current Toronto Maple Leafs roster has been acquired by Burke. That’s a huge amount of turnover in about 18 months. To put it in perspective, after five years on the job, JFJ was responsible for acquiring 60% of the Leafs roster. Pat Quinn’s peak was 66%.
And there’s potentially more turn-over to come.
John Mitchell, a Pat Quinn draft pick, and Nikolai Kulemin, a JFJ pick, are pending RFAs. Jeff Finger, a Cliff Fletcher UFA signing, is rumoured to be a future Toronto Marlies great. Many of the players acquired by Burke (Exelby, Wallin, Lundmark) will likely not return next season.
But before we can get to the next stage in the on-going make over of the Maple Leafs, Leaf fans will have to suffer through the balance of the season. The team is so dismally thin on talent upfront that they’ll be hard-pressed to win many games the rest of the way.
- Only three players on the club have hit double digits in goals.
Of the top five scorers on the team, three are defencemen, one is Phil Kessel and the other is injured.
- The Leafs top four centres are Bozak (rookie); John Mitchell (has regressed faster than Getzlaf’s hairline); Rickard Wallin and Wayne Primeau. As a group, they have scored 10 goals in 143 games played this season.
With the holes on the roster and the lack of talent up-front, perhaps the best mind-set for Leaf fans is that the next 20 games are an extended exhibition season: a chance to see who’s working, who’s not; a time to hope for an entertaining game and to remind yourself that this is hopefully the last time in a long time that the points and standings don’t really matter.