The NHL playoffs have entered the second round as of Thursday night. I have been keeping a watchful eye on both the hockey world and basketball world since the Raptors are taking over the ACC right now. My hope, like many of yous, is that the Raptors take the series and move on. But, hockey is my number one priority, so lets talk about the Leafs.

It has been nearly a month since the Leafs left the Canadian Tire Centre to end a depressing season with high expectations. Their summer is, unfortunately, longer than what was originally anticipated. But now that Brandon Shanahan is on board, it seems as though this summer seems to be a busy one.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to my Leafs Summer Checklist! It's very simple, this list pinpoints all of the things that I think the Leafs should do this summer. And here we go:

1) Trade Franson for a better Top 4 defensemen

Don't get me wrong, Franson is a useful player to use on the power play and can make some great passes. But this season showed Leaf Nation that Franson has a lot more problems then we originally thought he had. He is not a reliable defensemen in his own end, he gives the puck up many times (remember Luke Schenn, he was exactly the same), and let the Leafs down far more times than he helped. Some possible replacements include Matt Niskanen, Tom Gilbert, Kyle Quincey, Alex Martinez, and even Mark Stuart among others.

2) Draft Brandon Perlini

Brandon Pelini is an interesting prospect, to say the least. Nonetheless, he solves a large number of problems on offence that the Leafs currently have. He has great skill, lays the body, skates well, and makes his teammates better. This unselfish left winger reminds me of JVR, and can be a useful top 6 forward in the future. The video above shows a sneak peak of what he can do, as he and Leaf prospect Carter Verhaeghe put on a show. If Perlini is not available, than Jake Virtanen, Hayden Fluery, and Nick Ritche make sense.

3) Make a decision with Carlyle

If there is one  unwritten rule in hockey, it seems that if a team has a disappointing run in number of seasons, the coaches seem to take the fall. Carlyle's future with the Leafs has be debated by many, as well as whether or not he is the right coach for the Leafs. This team is not terrible, its just missing many important ingredients that make a meh cake look great. I did once state that Carlyle should be fired, but I honestly think otherwise. Knowing the Leafs management, I wouldn't be surprised if Carlyle sticks with the Leafs. (DISCLAMER: Carlyle is staying with the Leafs, he signed a two year extension this Wednesday.)

4) Try and move Clarkson and his contract

As the old saying goes: "If the player sucks, trade him for a bag of pucks." Actually, I just made that up, but Clarkson though is a different animal all together. He seemed to be the Wendal Clark type player that Leafs Nation has not seen in years when he was signed as a free agent, and Clarkson was excited to play for his favorite team. But, he was a complete waste with only 11 POINTS! Now, this may be tough considering how much his contract is worth and how he did this season, Clarkson may be staying for the next 6 seasons. But if the Leafs could, Clarkson needs to go. Otherwise, I better be on the look for the water bottle police!

5) Make Lupul the captain of the Leafs

Let's face it, Dion Phaneuf should not be the captain of the Leafs. Why? That's because of  a series of unfortunate events leading up to the end of this season. This can include running away from the media after losing to St. Louis, claiming that the Buds played with fight against the Jets when the exact opposite occured, and not taking responsibility for the third straight collapse in three seasons. I think that Lupul will wear the "C" on his sweater next season. But why should Lupul be the replacement? It's simple: he plays like a leader. Lupul showed that leadership last season when he returned from injury,  and although this season was not as successful,  he still played with his heart on his sleeve.  A captain makes his teammates better and are inspired to do better, and Lupul certainly does that. To top it off, he is great wit6h the media. To summarize, Lupul is the ideal replacement as captain instead of Phaneuf.  

6) Get more banners from past seasons instead of Bon Jovi

When MLSE announced that a banner to dedicate Bon Jovi was going to be raised, I was a little disappointed.  That is because I was expecting a news about the raising of banners to commerate the season when the Leafs won their division. Teams like Montreal, Detroit, Edmonton, and Pittsburgh have all of the banners of anything their respective team won (Cups, Conferences, Divisions, and President Trophies), so why can't Toronto.  Sure, it won't lead to any on ice sucess, but it serves as a reminder that the Leafs were once great. Especially in 1993.

I am not sure if everything that I listed will actually occur. But considering that this the Leafs that we are talking about, you never know. If you have an idea of what the Leafs should do this summer, feel free to write a comment.

Happy golfing!

P.S. This blog was written over the past two weeks. I am aware that the second round is nearly halfway finished from when this was published.  Sorry for the confusion! 



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