What's next?

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

ED BELFOUR goalie

- This year: You name the problem, it happened to the Eagle; a slump, injuries, poor defence, trouble with new rules and ambitious back-ups.

- Next year: Club holds a $4.52-million US option, with a $1.5-million buyout.

- Verdict: Thanks for the memories.

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MIKAEL TELLQVIST goalie

- This year: Was doing fine until a bad case of stage fright in Montreal helped derail the playoff drive and his bid for Ed Belfour's crown.

- Next year: A bargain at $519,500, but can aspire to be more than a backup.

- Verdict: Turn on the Telly.

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JEAN-SEBASTIEN AUBIN goalie

- This year: Roared down the Gardiner from Ricoh Coliseum to lead the Leafs to their unbeaten 5-0-2 run entering last night's game against Florida.

- Next year: Free agent.

- Verdict: At least offer a generous two-way deal.

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LUKE RICHARDSON defenceman

- This year: Helpful late-season addition gave the Leafs some muscle.

- Next year: Won't get another $2 million at the age of 37.

- Verdict: Leafs need to retain at least some veteran defencemen.

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CARLO COLAIACOVO defenceman

- This year: Star-crossed Leaf did not play after concussion in late January.

- Next year: Restricted free agent.

- Verdict: Will be in a dog fight with veterans and Marlies callups, who've passed him on the depth chart.

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TOMAS KABERLE defenceman

- This year: Iron man has played 28 minutes a game, with a perfect attendance record. Smooth skater, passer, but gun shy on power play.

- Next year: A well-earned new deal, starting at $4.5 million.

- Verdict: Depending on Bryan McCabe's plans, give him even more responsibility.

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BRYAN MCCABE defenceman

- This year: Led the team in scoring until April, when other clubs threw a blanket over him and Leafs power play.

- Next year: Claims he wants to stay, but wants Tomas Kaberle money and more.

- Verdict: Attempt to sign him. If he plays hardball, look elsewhere.

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AKI BERG defenceman

- This year: Fans' whipping boy once more improved his error-prone game late in the season. But the damage was done.

- Next year: Free agent.

- Verdict: Finis for the Finn.

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ALEX KHAVANOV defenceman

- This year: Looked like a smart pick-up by his ex-St. Louis Blues' boss John Ferguson, but he rarely played consistently.

- Next year: Free agent

- Verdict: Nice guy, but too tentative and injury prone.

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WADE BELAK defenceman

- This year: Good soldier played his least favourite position, forming less-than stellar tandem with Berg

- Next year: $670,000.

- Verdict: Leafs need a pugilist on staff if Tie Domi departs.

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MATS SUNDIN forward

- This year: Salvaged his worst season in Toronto with great post-Olympics' run. Playing some of his best hockey as the season winds down.

- Next year: $6.33 million.

- Verdict: One good year for the road.

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DARCY TUCKER forward

- This year: Career high in goals, despite an untimely slump and a little Sideshow Bob for his detractors.

- Next year: $1.59 million.

- Verdict: Fan favourite gives the Leafs scoring and feisty play.

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JASON ALLISON forward

- This year: Before busting his hand, came back from 21/2 years of injuries; doubled his $1.5-million salary through bonuses. Size was a bonus, lack of speed was a killer.

- Next year: Free agent.

- Verdict: Leafs still need his offensive help -- at the right price.

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ANDY WOZNIEWSKI defenceman

- This year: Like fellow Marlies defencemen Brendan Bell and Jay Harrison, he made the most of his chance when called up.

- Next year: $475,000.

- Verdict: Size merits a long look at camp.

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IAN WHITE defenceman

- This year: Mobile kid has great potential on power play.

- Next year: $456,000.

- Verdict: The next Bryan McCabe?

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ERIC LINDROS forward

- This year: Like Jason Allison, a medical marvel; like Allison, succumbed to a hand injury.

- Next year: Free agent. Says he wants to come back, but he won't get $1.55 million again.

- Verdict: Leafs must be 100% certain that delicate wrist surgery will hold up.

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TIE DOMI forward

- This year: Gradually diminishing role isn't sitting well with the veteran enforcer.

- Next year: $1.25 million, but could get bought out.

- Verdict: Pat Quinn benched him a few games; a new coach might be even harder on him.

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JEFF O'NEILL forward

- This year: Started well and finished well. Forget about the rest.

- Next year: $1.5 million, but is contemplating retirement for personal reasons.

- Verdict: Might never attain past glory from his years in Carolina.

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KYLE WELLWOOD forward

- This year: Another breath of fresh air, a young and creative forward.

- Next year: Restricted free agent.

- Verdict: Will get better with age.

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MATT STAJAN forward

- This year: Cast in a defensive role, he made the best of it and generated short-handed production.

- Next year: Restricted free agent.

- Verdict: Will show more of his offensive side.

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CHAD KILGER forward

- This year: Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year; a credit to general manager John Ferguson.

- Next year: Free agent.

- Verdict: Potential 20-goal output can't be ignored.

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ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY forward

- This year: Completed long climb from fourth line to first with a career year in goals.

- Next year: $712,500.

- Verdict: Might not be the best fit for centre Mats Sundin, but has earned a job.

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NIK ANTROPOV forward

- This year: Lots of knocks against the plodding Kazakh, but he did well at even-strength.

- Next year: Restricted free agent.

- Verdict: He'll be hard pressed to beat out youngsters.

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ALEX STEEN forward

- This year: Made huge leap right from Sweden, but lost his energy at mid-season. His defensive play is promising.

- Next year: $900,600.

- Verdict: Rookie should eventually break in on the first line.

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BEN ONDRUS forward

- This year: Hard working grinder in his limited time with the Leafs; needs a scoring touch.

- Next year: Restricted free agent.

- Verdict: Leafs or Marlies.

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CLARK WILM forward

- This year: Effective fourth-line centre.

- Next year: Free agent.

- Verdict: There's a 50-50 chance of staying if prospects such as John Pohl make the team.


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