|Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Friday, 26 August 2011 21:45|
Under General Manager Brian Burke the Toronto Maple Leafs have been making baby steps towards qualifying for the playoffs since 1993 (okay, we exaggerate but it probably feels that long to some Leafs fans). Burke mortgaged a chunk of the team’s future by surrendering two first round draft picks and a second rounder to the Boston Bruins for enigmatic forward Phil Kessel. Two seasons into the Kessel era show that he’s hardly a bust, but doesn’t project to anything more than a 37 goal scorer with negatives to the other areas of his game, namely defense, desire and hockey character. Despite what he says publicly, TheO6.com has little doubt that Burke would gladly accept a do-over on that trade.
The good news is that if Phil Kessel is considered a “problem,” then things might not be so bad after all. James Reimer arrived on the scene and showed serious signs of being the goalie of the present and future by spearheading a late season charge with a .921 save percentage and 2.60 GAA. However, many goalies often tail off slightly statistically in their second year of serious playing time (see Carey Price) and don’t be surprised if Reimer experiences some hockey growing pains. Jonas Gustavsson, clearly not the long-term answer in the Toronto goal, might be best suited to spell Reimer during such times.
TheO6.com likes the Leafs defensemen as they gave a nice mix of veterans like captain Dion Phaneuf, Mike Komisarek and youngsters Luke Schenn and Cody Franson. No studs, especially with Phaneuf on the back nine of his respectable career, but very solid all around.
The teams’s offense was pretty horrendous last season but there is hope for this season. Kessel should have a modest bump in scoring, offsetting Clarke MacArthur’s probable modest drop-off in production. However, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin have the look of players ready to contribute on a nightly basis. Rookie Joe Colborne, acquired from Boston as part of the Tomas Kaberle trade, could make the squad out of training camp but is probably two years away from being a top-six forward.
The gut feeling here at TheO6.com is that the Leafs will be playing some meaningful hockey games until the first few days of April, but will ultimately have a just-miss ninth place finish in the East.
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 18:29|