Toronto Maple Leafs:
Last season – 16th in the Eastern Conference
The pain will continue in Toronto this season, that’s one thing that is absolute for certain. What isn’t for certain is how this roster is going to look like. According to hardcore-fan and Sportsnet writer/reporter Steve Dangle, there were so many players in camp with the opportunity to make the team, that no one really know who had the edge and who didn’t.
Except for a few usual suspects who are slotted into the first two lines.
GM – Lou Lamoriello
Lamoriello got an insane amount of years in experience, but still lots of people were surprised when the Maple Leafs hired him after he moved further up in the Devils-organization, away from his long-time GM-job that got the Devils three Stanley Cup Championships (1995, 2000, 2003) and another final appearance in 2012.
Most expecting him to ease of the workload, as probably did he, but the phone from Shanahan came and here we are. Lamoriello in charge of building a new championship team, but he has Kyle Dubas as a young protégé and the experienced Mark Hunter also in the front office staff.
Head Coach – Mike Babcock
Babcock is going to be a little more relieved this season with the addition of Auston Matthews, who most likely will get slotted into the lineup. The question mark in regards to Babcock this season is how “stubborn” will he be in regards to putting together some set lines, or having a more versatile approach to switching up the lines and giving players the chance to get more ice-time for developmental purposes.
After all, Babcock likes to win and the focus between winning and development is two different things. The good thing for Toronto, is that he is still one of the best coaches in the league.
Auston Matthews (C), Fredrik Andersen (G), Matt Martin (LW), Jonas Enroth (G), Roman Polak (D), Kerby Rychel (LW), Seth Griffith (C)
Conditional draft pick 2017
Jonathan Bernier (G), Scott Harrington (D),
1st round pick 2016, 2nd round pick 2017, 5th round pick 2017 (conditional)
The biggest offseason move outside drafting and signing Matthews, is trading for a potential starting goalie. The price paid were for a starting goalie, and Andersen must prove his worth with a tough crowd in-front of him. The acquisition of Matt Martin can be a great one, he’s a great depth signing who played on the best fourth line in the NHL last year with the Islanders. He will help this team be competitive this season.
Goaltending – 7/10
The goaltender duo is a decent duo in today’s NHL. Neither has managed to clearly grab the starting role at the other franchises they have been at. But, both have proven that they can play in the league. Especially Andersen can prove this season that he can be a starter full-time, and he will get all the time in the world to do so.
Defense – 5/10
In many ways, when comparing Toronto’s defense to other defenses around the league, they are a mess. But, they have some bright spots like Reilly. Marincin’s trade away from the Oilers to the Maple Leafs could have been a blessing for him, and he’ll get the opportunity to show that he can be a solid NHL defenseman.
After that, there are some interesting pieces, but plenty of average guys who shouldn’t be with the team when Toronto is ready to fight for a playoffs spot and enter contender status.
Marincin – M. Reilly
Gardiner – Carrick
Hunwick – Zaitsev
(Carrado – Polak)
Forwards – 6/10
Looking at the current forward group, there is a mix of excitement and average mediocracy. The youth are too far away to have a big impact this season, and the “veterans” in the group haven’t really shown that they can carry a team anywhere. So, basically there are a lot of complimentary players who are expected to carry this team, which they won’t be able to.
Therefore, every move Babcock makes this season, should have the purpose of helping the youths in the lineup with their development, and the managements hope is that he can help some of the others into becoming great middle six forwards.
Michalek – Kadri – Komarov
Van Riemsdyk – Bozak – Marner
M. Martin – Matthews – Nylander
Greening – Laich – Hyman
Griffith – Holland – Brown
Froese – Prust
(Soshnikov – Lindberg – Kapanen)
Team Composition – 4/10
There are all kinds of problems with this lineup, but that’s how it is in the rebuilding phase. Neither of the top two centers will be the main piece to bring this franchise a cup, the wingers are either young and talented, or middle six wingers who at best are complimentary players on a line.
The defense average at best, and it’s hard to find bright spots for this current season other that Matthews and the development of the other young talents like Marner and Nylander. The bright spot for this current season is the goalie duo, which really can be helpful in keeping the team competitive and give the youth confidence to play.
Leadership presence – 2/10
There isn’t a whole lot of veterans on this team, yes there are some with experience, but no one on this roster has won anything, or been part of a successive team over time. Michalek and Van Riemsdyk is the best the team can provide. The good thing is that, they youths can bring their own culture, which in Toronto is highly needed. And, the management will give these guys a good frame to do it in, because it’s among them the leadership presence is.
Skill Value – 7/10
There is definitively some skill here throughout the lineup. They talent level is high, and the success of them is the thing that is going to “save this franchise” on the ice from years of mediocracy and disappointment.