Key Offseason Losses: None
Key Offseason Additions: Colby Armstrong, Jerry D’Amigo, Jonas Gustavsson, Brett Lebda, Marcel Mueller, Kris Versteeg
Last Season Ranking: 15th, East
Offense: The Toronto Maple Leafs are a talented team on paper, young, fast and very talented. However, come game time, the team struggles to put the pucks in the net, resulting in the 5th least goals for amongst the league.
Toronto has one goal 30 goal scorer on the team, Phil Kessle. Thereafter though lies the problem, second closest in goals was Nikolai Kulemin with 16. Ouch!
Brian Burke has recognized this and has added some more young talent to the mix. Most notable are Jerry D’amigo from the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) and Marcel Mueller from the German Hockey League (DEL). D’amigo has a good resume, having a point per game production in the ECAC as well as winning a gold medal for the Men’s Junior United States team. Mueller has perhaps an even better resume with 24 goals and 32 assists in 53 games last season with Koln, all while serving 122 penalty minutes. Imagine if he stayed out of the box.
Lastly, Burke has added veteran depth in Stanley Cup winner Kris Versteeg from the Chicago Blackhawks and Colby Armstrong from the Atlanta Thrashers. Versteeg had a balanced 20 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. Armstrong had a down year with 29 points last season in comparison to 40 points the year before but should be able to at least get 25 goals if set up with play-making linesman. Both should add the much needed depth and experience to help the young team compete this year.
Defense: The Maple Leaf’s defensive is in need of some work despite having some well known and talented players. Dion Phaneuf, Thomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin and Luke Schenn are the top two lines with Mike Komisarek anchoring the third pairing.
Despite being known and talented players, not much needs to be said except that the Leafs allowed 263 goals last season, second worse only being beaten out by the Edmonton Oilers. Practice makes perfect and practice these guys need.
Goaltending: Jean-Sebastian Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson will split time in net this year. Gustavsson was battling an irregular heartbeat last season, but all is behind him and his focus will now be on winning games for the team. Giguere starts the season without the headaches of the Anaheim Ducks and should settle in this season with his new team. The two should have a friendly competition for game time, a competition that should play to the benefit of the team with both players trying to make a claim for the dominant goalie.
Season Outlook: It really is hard to say what one should expect from the Toronto Maple Leafs this upcoming season. On paper, the team looks to have 2 solid forward lines that finally have some goal scorers besides Phile Kessle. Defensively, the team has talent, but they just need some more practice together. As for goaltending, what is not to like with the J.G. duo fighting for the number one spot. Still though, with the added pressure of the media, always playing in front of a sell out crowd despite not having the performance to earn that honor, it will all come down to how well the team buys into the system and how well they click. I would not expect a playoff spot this season, but I do believe the team will make it worth your while to watch them this year with all the young talent.