We’re going to take a look at each NHL team, breaking down every new addition and subtraction, as well as promising prospects.
Today, we take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs.
By: Andi Perelman (aka @FiveForBoarding)
2013 Season: 26-17-5, 57 pts (3rd Northeast Division, 5th Eastern Conference)
RW David Clarkson
C Dave Bolland
G Jonathan Bernier
D T.J. Brennan
D Paul Ranger
C Mikhail Grabovski
D Mike Komisarek
RW Matt Frattin
G Ben Scrivens
LW Clarke MacArthur
RW Leo Komarov
D Morgan Rielly
C Joe Colborne
RW Tyler Biggs
D Stuart Percy
LW Josh Leivo
D Petter Granberg
Biggest Trades: Three draft picks to Chicago (2nd & 4th round in the 2013 draft and a 4th round pick in the 2014 draft) for C Dave Bolland
Kings G Jonathan Bernier to Leafs for RW Matt Frattin, G Ben Scrivens, and a 2nd round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 draft.
Biggest Signing: David Clarkson to 7 years at $36.75 million
Last season, Toronto fans had reason to celebrate. Their team had made the playoffs for the first time in nine years. Some would say it was because of the shortened season, others would say it was luck, and people from Toronto would say the Leafs are the best team in the league. Unfortunately for Leafs fans (and much to the delight of Montreal and Boston fans alike), Toronto’s playoff run ended in extremely painful disappointment. For a moment there was a glimmer of hope (a 4-1 lead in the 3rd period of Game 7), and then all their hopes and dreams were crushed by the Bruins. See also the Down Goes Brown article showing Leafs fans’ reactions to the game: http://bit.ly/193glW2
So what happened in the off-season and will the Leafs make it back to the playoffs? Read on for the potentially good, potentially bad, and potentially ugly…
The Potentially Good: James Reimer and Jonathan Bernier are two solid choices for a starting goaltender. Not the best in the league, but definitely solid. Both will feel some pressure to be the ‘go-to’ guy and that will make both of them better. Bernier was great in LA, but never had the chance to step out of Jonathan Quick’s shadow. Reimer, on the other hand, lead the Leafs into the 2013 playoffs and started to get their goaltending back on track (despite being horrific in the shootout). It will be a fun battle to watch.
Also on the good front, was the addition of Dave Bolland. The Leafs need a guy who can score when the pressure is on. Bolland was great in Chicago (scoring the Cup-clinching goal), and the Ontario-native will be welcomed back to Toronto with open arms and an endless flow of Molson.
The Potentially Bad: The new Atlantic Division is going to feature some stiff competition. The addition of Detroit to the Eastern Conference is not something to be taken lightly. Babcock is one of the best coaches in the league, Detroit holds the longest active playoff streak in North American pro sports, the Wings will benefit from a better travel schedule, Alfredsson is itching for a Stanley Cup win, oh and… Pavel Datsyuk. Although the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Bruins might be the biggest concerns in the division, the Leafs also have to watch out for the Lightning who have some serious talent upfront.
The Potentially Ugly: Cody Franson is still not signed. Without Franson, the defensive pairings are up in the air and the defensive core is changing. The Leafs have the chance to test out Morgan Rielly in the NHL, which could be great, but could also be a disaster. Dion Phaneuf sounds confident in Rielly’s abilities, saying, “he’s smart and he has good patience”, so that is a plus. Probably not an ugly situation, but if the Leafs don’t make a some decisions soon, they won’t have time to test out pairings in the preseason.
Overall, Toronto had a good off-season. They added some grit, some power, and an insurance plan for Reimer. They are an experienced team with some solid prospects coming down the pike. Will this year be their year? Probably not, but they are on the right track. They could make it to the playoffs this year, but it won’t be without a fight (both a fight to the playoffs and an all-out Colton Orr smackdown).