I was going to do a new thread with this topic. The title was going to be "2013 Apocalypse". The OP sux though because he's just typing his current man crushes and isn't thinking far enough ahead. People like myself are much better at that. Why? Answer: experience. Anyway take 3/4 of those names off that list because they just won't be man crush worthy in the '13-'14 season. Certainly not enough Leafs prospects or otherwise. Wisen up.
I don't think he was looking at the UFA pool for this... obviously almost all the good names will be locked up by then.
But I do think he may have planned to have a lot of guys come off the books at the same time. If anything, it lets him re-evaluate our young guys, which ones are pushing for full time NHL duty. Which veterans does he think could be keepers or can't be replaced from within. etc.
For everyone one of the FA's in 2013, there is a prospect in the Leafs system that could hypothetically step into the line up full time. I.e. Kadri, Colborne, Blacker, Frattin, Mueller, etc. There will be a mix of these young players coming up on their ELC's to provide good value, and the money saved will be spent on a big name or two I'd imagine in free agency
Burke & Co's strategy is clearly centred around roster agility. In order to make the moves they want, they need contracts that are manageable whether by trade or term.
Some of the trends are: Front loaded contracts, lack of full NTCs and terms no greater than 5 years.
I think it's smart for a variety of reasons. It allows for effective asset management (see the Franson/Lombardi and Lupul/Gardiner deals) and be nimble enough to sign a big name player once he becomes available (perhaps Getzlaf?). Not to mention the ability to weather any potential storms caused by the new CBA such as a sudden drop in cap space.
One interesting trend the Leafs have picked up on is structured deals to suit small market teams vs large market teams. For example, the Islanders are structuring their deals to be back loaded so that a large market team can acquire the player if need be at the tail end and have a favourable cap hit vs the large market team who front loads deals for big name players who can then drop the contract to a small market team whom benefit from a lower salary and the tail end with a higher cap hit.
Burke has said in the past that cap space is a huge asset to have when making trades, UFA signings, and any other moves in between. By having the flexibility to not have long term contracts helps in building the team. This is Burke using short term contracts to be flexible with his team building.
Think it probably has to do more with CBA expiring rather then potential UFAs.
The risk of signing an expensive team longer than 2013 is pretty big considering the cap MAY lower, even just a bit and the Leafs could end up in a Chicago-type situation having to trade off some valuable assets for cap space.