I know that many think counting on a rookie is.......shall we say a little risky... However I believe that if nothing else happens between now and the start of training camp, you will see Alexander Steen playing beside Sundin.
If I could find a link to the reports that came from Sweden when the Leafs held their training camp there , I would post it (but I can't). I recall that almost every important player and coach on the team had glowing things to say of Steen in that camp. I even seem to recall Quinn wishing he could bring him back to North America which he could not, because of Steens contract status in Sweden.
So, I think in a time when "risk for high reward" seems to be the approach for the Leafs, that Steen will get a very legitimate opportunity.
As for the pairings,
I have always been of the mode to pair a puck mover with a defensive style player.
In the Leaf's case this is hard as we have so many puck moving style Defense, which of course has been long lamented by the masses on this board. We really do need a balance of the defence style, but given what we have, your pairings are as good as any. I would likely start out with,
McCabe, Kaberle (which I really don't like defensively)
Klee, Colaiacovo ( I think the Kid needs a steady influenc, and Klee is the steadiest that we have)
Berg , Khavanov ( I am not personally an Aki Berg hater, I think he is a pretty solid D-man, and I think this pairing has possibilities)
If Steen doesn't cut it then I would like to see Stajan, Antro or Kilger on the top line. I can see the responses now to the Kilger idea. For whatever reason he impressed me last year in the playoffs - he forechecks hard, opens up space, crashes the net and wont hurt the other two as long as he does not try to handle the puck to much. Sundin and O'Neill will score 60-70 goals combined so their third-wheel just needs to line up next to them and contribute as much as he can.
I think that Allison will provide more for the Sky Line V2 than Nieuwendyk. His vision, playmaking and wonderful hands will create many opportunities. He can score too so I really think he is the perfect fit between those two guys. Poni can be a twenty plus goal scorer if he hits the net more consistently and I really feel that a more comfortable Antro is going to produce. He is very clumsy but is entering his prime and has stopped growing so he should now finally be able to round out his game and play consistently and be able to be a solid top six forward. He was drafted as a long-term project and I think he will prove his worth this year.
Lindros and Tucker should work very well together and Stajan will be the 'responsible' one on the line and a good compliment player. Tucker should be able to score in the fifty-point range with twenty plus goals and if Lindros scored a similar amount and Stajan improved on his rookie year what more could you ask for.
I think it is important to not go all out for a top 6 - two line team but instead have three consistant lines because Quinn always rolls four lines.
Wellwood on the forth line isn't what he needs to improve his game but with PP time and a possible overtime and shoot out role he may be needed and could be a good fill in player come injuries.
Thoughts ? I really don't think that it is unreasonable to expect Steen in the NHL along side Mats. He has always been heralded as a responsible defensive forward, so his offensive contribution would be more or less a bonus and inevitable with O'Neill and Sundin.
Why? Considering the leafs lack of depth on th ewing I think Steen can holds his own and if in doubt we can always add stumpy.
Tucker Allsion Stajan
Allison needs someone to score and although Tucker isn't the greatest he's the best we have, plus a think Tucker will certainly score more than 20 in a more offensive role. Stajan put up decent numbers in his rookie year, even with limited ice time. I think its time he was put in a more offensive role this year.
Antropov Lindros Domi
Although I wouldn't mind having Lindros on the wing, Quinn said he wants him at center. I'm not a fan of Antropov but one thing he can do is pass the puck and one thing Lindros can do is score. Domi is needed beside Lindros for two reasons. First protection and second someone has to go in the corners and get the puck for him.
Kilger Wilm Ponikarovsky
Although it won't score it will bang and play reasonably defensively. Wilm is underated and is a perfect fourth line center to have.
I definatly don't want to see Colaiacovo on a pairing with berg, I would feel better with him playing with any of McCabe, Kabs, or Klee. As for Steen, playing on Sundins wing can only help the kid transition to the NHL. I'm starting to get excited about Steen comming over, after watching that goal, and hearing Sundin actually mention him in an article.
as much as i'd like to see wellwood given a legit shot, i dont think i would trust a line of Ally Antro and him simply because none of them are phenomenal skaters and while Welly isnt as slow as some have claimed over the years, I'd like to see a fast skater who can forecheck ala tucker, or *tear* gary roberts. If your gonna put wellwood in, I'd have him with (sundin-oneill) or (lindros-tucker)
I love this combo, especially Tucker with Lindros, he can be a lightning rod for eric, taking all the attention from him, and most of the punishment, Darcy is a lot tougher.
In all, I love the lineup you've suggested, I'm so excited for the season to start.