Toronto Maple Leafs

by | NHL Blogger

Tuukka Rask (Getty Images)  
Tuukka Rask (Getty Images)  
Imagine an NHL without free agency or trades, that once a player is drafted with a team he stays with that team for his entire career. What would the rosters look like? We at Eye on Hockey will take a look at the Home-Grown Teams of all 30 franchises -- three lines, two defensive pairs and two goaltenders. Three lines and two D pairs because this doesn't include undrafted free agents, only drafted players. We want to see who has drafted the best.

Line 1: Nikolai Kulemin - Nik Antropov - Alex Steen

With a top line like this it might as well be the 2008-09 season in Toronto all over again. It's not that any of these three are bad players (they're all pretty good) but they're not the type of players you want to lean on to carry your team.

Line 2: Alexei Ponikarovsky - Matt Stajan - Nazem Kadri

The highlight of Matt Stajan's tenure in Toronto was the fact he was one of the guys (along with Ian White, Niklas Hagman, and Jamal Mayers) traded to Calgary for Dion Phaneuf. Nazem Kadri, the No. 7 overall pick in 2009, still has a ton of talent and offensive upside and even with his small body of work at this point is still probably one of the better options for a top-six role in this pool of talent.

Line 3: Jiri Tlusty - Kyle Wellwood - Viktor Stalberg

Kyle Wellwood is often the butt of many jokes for a weight problem he used to have, but once you get past that you see that's a pretty useful player that can provide nice offense as a third-liner and win a few face-offs.

Offensive scratch: John Mitchell

Defense Pairing 1: Tomas Kaberle - Luke Schenn

Luke Schenn never become the player Toronto thought he would when he was selected in the top-five back in 2008, but the Leafs were able to trade him to Philadelphia this summer for forward James van Riemsdyk. That has a chance to be one of the best trades Brian Burke has made during his time with the Maple Leafs.

Defense Pairing 2: Carlo Colaiacovo - Ian White

Two guys that disappointed in Toronto but had strong seasons in 2011-12 playing next to really good defensive partners with different teams. Ian White had one of his best seasons in the NHL playing alongside a future Hall of Famer in Nicklas Lidstrom, while Colaiacovo had his play boosted playing next to Alex Pietrangelo, who finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting, in St. Louis

Defensive scratch: Carl Gunnarsson

Goaltenders: Tuukka Rask - James Reimer

The Maple Leafs get a lot of heat for trading two top-10 draft picks to Boston for Phil Kessel, but at least in Kessel they ended up with a really, really good player. Currently their best player. But for me the bigger mistake (in hindsight and at the time) was trading Tuuka Rask (also to Boston) for Andrew Raycroft. Ouch.

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