Top Six, Bottom Six
When it was suggested here late last season that Matt Stajan appeared to have the character to one day, just maybe, become the captain of the Maple Leafs, there was a little support but mostly guffawing.
By October, with Stajan off to a horrible start under new head coach Ron Wilson, there was no support, more guffawing and lots of sentiment that Stajan needed to be shipped out of town.
What's interesting, however, is how Stajan and other Leafs will fit in the Brian Burke model. Burke made it clear on Saturday at his inaugural press conference that forwards on his teams either have to have enough skill to play in the top six, or be willing to do the grunt work - fighting, shot blocking, penalty killing - necessary to play in the bottom six.
Those are Burke's terms of employment, relatively black and white terms.
But not all players fit easily, and the Leafs are full of such players. Like Stajan.
Does he have enough skill to be a legitimate top six NHL forward on a good team? Cliff Fletcher, who thought only Nik Antropov fit into that category, certainly didn't think so.
If not, does Stajan have the sandpaper to be a bottom six player under Burke? Well, he doesn't fight, he's more willing to get his nose dirty than once was the case and he's a pretty smart defensive player.
So based on what we know now, which Leafs fit where under Burke's model?
TOP SIX FORWARDS:
TOP SIX MAYBES:
BOTTOM SIX FORWARDS:
BOTTOM SIX MAYBES:
NEITHER TOP SIX NOR BOTTOM SIX: