- E.J. Hradek, Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
Using the VUKOTA projection system of Puck Prospectus, Insider takes the temperature of key players on every NHL team. For a detailed explanation of Prospectus' proprietary GVT value metric, read more here.
Summer Skate -- Toronto Maple Leafs
Is Brian Burke a genius or a madman? Both positions had their supporters last season, as Burke paid a very high price at the beginning of the season for mercurial forward Phil Kessel and traded away seemingly every other player on his roster with offensive talent. In all, he dealt Matt Stajan, Ian White, Lee Stempniak, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Jason Blake. On the other hand, he won the sweepstakes for goaltender Jonas Gustavsson and acquired a blue-chip defenseman in Dion Phaneuf. The overall result was poor, as the Leafs finished 29th, and because of the Kessel trade, they didn't profit from the high draft pick that is the reward for such an awful finish.
Looking at this season's projections however, there's reason to reserve judgement on that ill-received trade.
After trading away a good chunk of the team for the investment in a few players, the Maple Leafs will hope the plan starts to pay dividends this year.