The Leafs remain largely the same since last summer. Ideally, they can land a top-line center to play with goal-scoring winger Phil Kessel, but there are few true, top-line centers likely to be available in free agency and the price to trade for one can be quite substantial. Rick Nash has had his name linked to the Maple Leafs, but the cost to acquire the Toronto native will likely be too high and his cap hit isn't quite attractive to a team that already finished sixth in league scoring.
The Maple Leafs went with James Reimer last summer as their starting netminder, but a concussion early in the season set the stage for a tough second NHL season for the 24-year-old. With Jonas Gustavsson a pending UFA this summer, the Maple Leafs will likely look to bolster the goaltending situation. 25-year-old Ben Scrivens has performed extremely well at the NHL level, but going with yet another inexperienced goalie tandem doesn't seem like a gamble Burke's willing to make.
Beyond that, the club can most certainly use minor tweaks to both the forward and defensive corps. While Burke has traditionally brought in younger players to the Maple Leafs, the past season collapse may direct him to bring more seasoned veteran depth to help cope with the pressures of a long NHL season.
It's expected that many of the Maple Leafs moves will come in the form of trades, rather than spending more cap dollars on a weak free-agent market.
There continues to be solid depth in all positions within the Maple Leafs system. Over the past year, the Maple Leafs have added Carter Ashton, Nicholas Deschamps, and free agent Hobey Baker finalist Spencer Abbott. While none of these prospects are expected to walk into top-six scoring roles with the Maple Leafs, they do add a lot of depth and flexibility to the system.
Other forward depth making the push for full-time NHL positions includes familiar names Nazem Kadri, Matt Frattin, Joe Colborne, and Jerry D'Amigo. At the moment, Frattin appears to have the inside track at a permanent spot on the Maple Leafs after dominating in a late-season finish with the Marlies. Nazem Kadri, entering his third pro season, is also likely to get more of a leash under Coach Randy Carlyle. Joe Colborne, who was one of the more dominant AHL forwards at the start of the year, spent much of the season battling a wrist injury that required off-season surgery. The 22-year-old is expected to spend another year of seasoning with the Marlies where he'll have the opportunity to take the reins as the clubs top-line center. D'Amigo is a name many may be surprised to see listed with the likes of Kadri, Frattin and Colborne, but he was one of the Mariles most reliable players all season long. He turned his game up a level in the playoffs for the Marlies, providing them with his usual tenacious work ethic, but also finding the score sheet on a more consistent basis.
On the defensive side, only Korbinian Holzer is considered to be NHL-ready among the current defensemen in the system. Jesse Blacker and Stuart Percy have both shown signs of top-four potential, but remain longer-term options for the club going forward. Swedish defenseman Petter Granberg had a very strong season in the SEL, then signed an entry-level contract with the Maple Leafs a few weeks ago. He is expected to play one more season in Sweden before making the jump across the pond.
Scrivens, as mentioned earlier, had a sensational season in the AHL and showed flashes of solid play in a minor NHL stint. At 25 (turning 26 in September), expect Scrivens to start paving an NHL career sooner rather than later (it just may not be with the Maple Leafs). Mark Owuya has also displayed some top-tier goaltending in his first season in North America and may be a future bright spot for the Maple Leafs. He's expected to push for a full-time spot with the Marlies next season.
While the depth is strong, the lack of elite talent at both defense and forward has the Maple Leafs looking towards the trade market to complement the current roster. Much of this has to do with the graduation of Jake Gardiner and the trade that brought in Phil Kessel. So, while the Maple Leafs may be without top-tier talent within the system, they do have two strong building blocks in Gardiner/Kessel on the parent club.
The club is poised to add a potential top-tier talent in this coming draft, but unless they plan on moving up to select elite scoring forward Nail Yakupov, it's unlikely that immediate help comes from the fifth overall selection.