CFN – Brian Burke, like many NHL GM’s has some good qualities. He has some failings too as the Leaf Nation saw this season. Picking fights with Don Cherry; not being able to horse trade, not having any players from Ontario, giving a contract extension to his coach before clinching a play off spot, and of course watching an epic falling off the cliff of his squad which included him not being able to land help at the trade deadline.
Not a typical Leaf season, but one that some think the GM cannot afford and might cost him his job. Not only that the Leafs aren’t really clear as to whether they are rebuilding or just being the Leafs. This season will not result in a top draft picks like Montreal who essentially have done the Fail for Nail move quite effectively and who have a core of strong young talent for their next GM to work with.
If success is in the details then Mr. Burke simply missed the boat this season. His salary heavy team has some issues, but I think it is better, and at a cross roads.
Here is your Maple Leaf Report Card
GM: Brian Burke (C+) Sometimes the best moves we make are the ones we don’t… The Connolly move didn’t quite pay off, and asset management wasn’t quite strong this year. Next year will be a huge challenge for the Leafs as most of their forwards are going UFA at the end of the 2012/13 season. The team is full of play off contending players, but not Cup contending ones. That’s a challenge.
Coach: Randy Carlyle (NA) I don’t think it’d be fair to judge Mr. Carlyle for this past season. He went from one mess in Anaheim to another in Toronto. Next year is his acid test as the Leafs are good enough to be play off contenders.
Centre – Toronto is actually very deep up the middle.
Mikhail Grabvoski (B+) The former Hab has matured into a solid 2nd line centre. Toronto rewarded him with a $5.5 5 year contract which seems a bit much, but the risk was losing him and Grabvoski has been steady for Toronto.
Tyler Bozak (B) Had his best NHL season after Tim Connolly started the season injured giving Bozak time on the first line. Made the most of it with nearly 50 points put up and some grit. Next year is the last at $1.5M so Mr. Bozak will be playing for his next contract.
Tim Connolly (C) The softish centre’s points total will have slid for the 3rd year in a row. Not quite what you want on the third line. it should be interesting to see if Mr. Burke can trade him out in the off season or feels he’s still the number one line’s solution.
Joe Colborne has a really attractive upside. Size, grit, and can put up some points. Next year is showtime for Big Joe. It’s his job to lose at this point. Dave Steckel was a great pick up as he did the Face Off specialist job and added in some points.
Phil Kessel (B+) Phil did what he’s paid to do; light up the score sheet and having his most productive season. The closer to play off contention though the season came to the quieter that he became. With what the franchise gave up for him he has to take his game up another notch come end of the year.
Joffrey Lupal (A-) Nobody really expected a season like this from Lupal. A point a game pace with 100+ hits tossed in make for a great season for the oft injured winger. Next year is contract year for him too.
Clarke MacArthur (C) What was most disturbing about Clarke’s season wasn’t so much the production, but he stopped hitting seeing his total halved. Another contract to play for next year for him as well.
Nikolai Kulemin (D) The season was total reversal for Kulemin who just never got his scoring going.
Nazim Kadri, Joey Crabb, Matt Fratin all have some value, but are questionable at this point as top six wingers.
What should be the strength of the Leafs sorta misfired this season and didn’t help concussed James Reimer or any of those filling in for him.
Dion Phaneuf: (B+) A great season by Phaneuf who put it all together this season. Production, grit, and health. The question is if he’s matured and can build on in it in the future?
Jean Michael Liles: (B-) One of the weirder moves by Burke was signing Liles to a new long term contract? Not the most productive or Defensemen or toughest.
Mike Komisarek: (D) Another half season of mediocrity for the former Hab and his untradable contract.
Luke Schenn: (B+) I can’t believe there were trade rumors about this Baby Pronger prototype. 250+ hits and has rung up over 20 points in a season at the age of 22. Definitely a keeper!
Jake Gardiner: (B) The lithe Gardiner put up 30 points with about 20 minutes per night of play. Has some upside yet.
Cody Franson: (B) not sure what the media have against this guy. He puts up solid numbers. Somewhere between a 2nd or 3rd pairing D man.
Carl Gunnarson: (C) The Big Swede didn’t really progress this season; but then there is a big log jam for good quality minutes in Toronto. He needs to up his game and get to the next level of play.
James Reimer: (C-) The Leafs were relying on Reimer to build on his amazing rookie season, but a concussion and porous Defense led to him having worse numbers than Jonas Gustavsson(C) who actually played more minutes than Reimer.
Mr. Burke has his work cut out for him. The status quo doesn’t project out to a visit to the Play Offs for next year. He does have a lot of parts to play with though so it should not be a boring summer for the Leaf Nation.
What do you think Toronto fans? You can post your comments below.