In their effort to close the gap on the Boston Bruins in the Northeast Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs are hot in pursuit of a couple highly regarded prospects leading up to the NHL Entry Draft later this month.
It’s been reported that Swedish goaltending sensation Jonas Gustavsson has included the Leafs on a short list of teams he’d be willing to join in the NHL. Reportedly, the other two teams are Colorado and Dallas.
Adding the 24-year-old netminder, considered by many to be the best non-NHL goaltender on the planet, would obviously moved the Leafs closer to contender status. A true No. 1 in the crease, something they’ve lacked for the better part of this decade, would make it easier for the Leafs to develop young talent at the NHL level.
While Gustavsson would be an excellent piece of the puzzle, Leafs general manager Brian Burke hasn’t stopped there. Burke is still trying to pry away the No. 1 pick in the draft from the New York Islanders so he can take top prospect John Tavares, who was hanging out at the 2009 Stanley Cup final yesterday. The Leafs currently hold the No. 7 pick in the first round.
Can the organization that just a couple years ago traded Tuukka Rask to Boston for Andrew Raycroft convince the team that gave Rick DiPietro the equivalent of a lifetime contract to trade the chance to pick Tavares, who might be the biggest name in the draft since Sidney Crosby? I guess anything is possible. And if the Leafs can pull off just one of their rumored moves, they’ll make things in the Northeast a little tighter.