The Maple Leafs could have them themselves a tight spot at this time next year. Not due to playoff races or financial restraints. No, this one could come straight from a rather foreign place, one that the Leafs have not had to worry about for a long long time. Too many NHL ready prospects ready to make the leap.
While it is true that most will not stick the landing (like countless amateur athletes seen on youtube in a given day) there are some who will.
Without any free agent signings the Leafs have at least 4 contenders for the top 2 centre positions next year. With one all but guaranteed for Mikhail Grabovski that leaves a fight for the final spot between Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak and Joe Colborne. This isn’t likely a lineup that will win it all next season, so there is always the possibility of Burke acquiring some outside help.
This does not seem too likely as the best player out there will be Brad Richards who is asking for big money and long term. Neither of which is a player likely to get from Burke. But if they do manage to sign him it would be reasonable to assume that one of the other 4 will not be with the team much longer.
With the Burkian model there are 2 truculent centre positions to be fought over next season. With a chance of even more completion with surprise player of the year, Timmy Brent likely a front runner should he return to blue and white. Also Daryl Boyce, Marcel Mueller, Christian Hanson, Brayden Irwin as well as all who lose out on the top 2 positions.
When you include the Marlies of the future such as Greg McKegg, players coming back to the Marlies could see reduced ice time as new prospects take control.
This is a good thing and it has been awhile since the Leafs have had a large number of players competing for vital roles with the organization. The culture certainly has changed, with any luck the next seasons results will as well.