Last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished 7th last in the league after a dissappointing campaign that had high expectations. They failed to make the playoffs for a third straight year mainly because of poor defensive play and inconsistant back-up play by Andrew Raycroft.
Quite Frankly, I don't think Paul Maurice was quite up to the task of coaching in Toronto.
However, the wrongs were corrected this off-season. Cliff Fletcher went out and reinforced the defence. The pairing of Kubina (assuming he will maintain his form from the end of last season) and Kaberle should produce points as well as prevent scoring on the other side.
McCabe and Finger could learn a thing or two from each other: Finger teaching McCabe the art of not giving the puck away, and McCabe teaching Finger how to shoot from the line.
Coliacavo and Stralman both have tremendous potential as long as they stay healthy.
As for the offense, I would only be concerned if Sundin does not come back.
The Leafs have good depth in their centers, but do not have a number 1 guy. Without him, we have no one to captain, let alone score more than 60 points on the team.
A good friend of mine told me, "TML should change their name to the Toronto Fourth liners" Dammit, I would not mind if they did. Cliff traded and signed to bring in a line of tough guys that might live up to the Domi/Tucker/Roberts combination.
Finally, the leafs brought in a new coach and CUJO (yay), therefore fixing all of the problems from last year. Ron Wilson is a Defense first type of coach that can really work with young guys to improve their game. Who knows, the Maple Leafs have the potential to suprise ALOT of people next season.
With All these things, what else does a team need to compete?
P.S Even if we do make the playoffs, would it be worth it to pass up on the Tavares sweepstakes?
I hope Cliff gives us his promised "home run" and brings in a good goal scorer. I am glad to see us ice a team that is not soft like the teams we have had for the last few seasons. I think defensively we will be a much better team. So we might not win many games unless we beef up the offense but at least any team that plays us will earn points rather then us rolling over and letting them win. I like the moves Cliff is doing.
It will be an interesting season to say the least. 75% chance we stay on course and bomb out with a high draft (hopefully number 1 !!!) 25% chance we shock the hockey world and become a responsible team in our own end and win some games....if Mats can recognize that the team is tougher, more organized, has a coach with a SYSTEM!!!, and is responsible in it's own end, with a reliable back up in CUJO, I think he'll return and have another great season playing with Kulemin, Tlusty, Steener,ect.. I think Mats' return will boost Antro's confidence and he'll have another great yr as well.....if Mats leaves...well, the team will most likely fall apart and get shut out a lot and lose a lot of tight 2-1 3-2 games this yr...also, Antro won't handle the pressure of repeating last yr without Mats beside him, can't see it myself....it will be interesting to say the least. C'mon Oct 9th
I think we all need to take our blue and white tinted glasses off and have a real look at this team.Cliff did not build this team to win right now. He built this team to grind and fight. Not much in the way fo finishing. Look at your post. That is a lot of "if's" that need to happen for us to MAYBE have a chance of squeaking in to the playoffs, which is in and of itself, a sad indicator of our team.The goal is a cup. That's all it should ever be. I'm happy with the current state, because the plan is to eventually morph into a Red Wing/Devils type of organization. One that wins consistently over the long haul, not hope on ifs and maybes...
The leafs really need tavares, or to sign or trade for a good young player... when was the last time the leafs had a homegrown player that was considered elite, or had elite potential.... rick nash has 2 years left in columbus... why not sign in toronto after, hes used to not makin the playoffs anyways