This is the third time I have done this. Pick 5 players on the team or within the organization you would go forward with. Yes anyone can be expendable, but if you had to pick five to start, who would they be.
In Nov. 2010 I said
In. Oct. 2011 I said
Today I say
The * is on Kessel cause for the first time out of the three, I can't really pick 5 (which is funny cause we are better/have a better prospect pool than those last two years). Kessel could go either way. I am ready to see an extension for him (for a reasonable price) but wouldn't mind seeing him dealt at all (for a reasonable price).
I tried thinking who would replace him. Looking at my old lists, (funny how Kadri escaped, then came back), I'm really done with Phaneuf (that is a whole other thread on its own). Kulemin is no longer someone you build around, but rather a good piece to add. Reimer has not shown he is an elite goaltender, but I still have some faith in him.
Lupul? I pondered him, but I need to see him healthy and either put up numbers with Kadri or a re-signed Kessel. If none of those factors happen, I fear he could possibly be a burden in a few years...Frattin? I like him a lot but not quite that much. Franson? I need to see more. Finn, Percy, Biggs? Far too soon, not blue chip enough.
IMO depending on how the rest of this season goes, if the Leafs miss the playoffs there will be big question marks surrounding Kessel resigning .. I only exclude him because of his current contract status
1. Phil Kessel (Leading scorer, top goal scorer, dynamic wingers are hard to find)
2. Dion Phaneuf (Our captain, most physical player, and best defenseman. No brainer)
3. Nazem Kadri (Hometown boy, high draft pick who spent lots of time in our development system. He is just too filthy and has chemistry with everyone)
4. Jake Gardiner (Dynamic, smart PMD. Will be a great #3 for years to come. The kind of guy who can carry the 2nd pairing alongside a steady two-way defenseman)
5. JVR (Young, rangy forward with massive upside)
HM: Joffrey Lupul Darkhorse: Jay McClement (He's a guy who willingly took a hometown discount. He's the best defensive player we've had in years. He doesn't make mistakes and is just too fantastic for his cap hit, will and determination. Might just be the best PKer leaguewide.) Prospect: Morgan Rielly (He hasn't cracked the NHL squad yet but he was just drafted. Therefore he isn't yet a part of our core.. But he is a huge part of our future)
There is more then 5... Reimer, Phaneuf, Gardiner, Rielly, Kessel, Kadri, JVR... I would say Lupul Mcclement, Fraser, Franson and Bozak are pretty close to untouchable right now.. Bozak only because hes a huge part of our team and everyone loves him, i know hes gonna get replaced but hes still great as a 3rd line center. Franson and Fraser are great for us right now, it would take a lot to move Fraser in my opinion hes been great for us defensively. Mcclement is the main reason are PK is so good and Franson has been our top offensive d man with steady defense. But really the only pure untouchables would be Gardiner Rielly Kadri JVR and Kessel.