I was fairly close to the output I expected from a few players last year, also with a couple that I was somewhat distant on so I'm looking to improve this time around.
First I'll start with the lineup as it stands today that could conceivably represent Toronto on opening night, then I'll briefly discuss how wide-open the North East is and then move on to individual Maple Leafs projections.
LW / C / RW
Versteeg / Bozak / Kessel
Kulemin / Kadri / Grabovski
Caputi / Mitchell / Armstrong
Orr / Brown / Sjostrom
LD / RD
Phaneuf / Beauchemin
Komisarek / Kaberle
Gunnarsson / Schenn
Fact of the matter, this isn't a deep team offensively, however, I really feel the North East is up for grabs to any of the 5 teams due to the lack of elite talent separating the teams. In reality, I don't think that the Leafs offense will end up strong enough to bring them the division title, but if the defense and goaltending plays well enough there is the remote possibility that the team pulls it off with minimal goal scoring due to the weaker competition in the division.
Quick note on why I don't think the North East is very strong.
The only team in the division that made substantial roster changes outside the Leafs this off-season was Boston by adding Seguin and Horton. This was done to help fix their dismal offensive efforts for much of last year and without further improvement or at very least having Rask maintain his numbers in goal, Boston could have trouble icing a team that can score enough goals (even with these additions) to make up for a relatively thin defense outside of Chara. Miller played so far above his career averages for Buffalo last year, that there is no reason to think he will continue that form going forward and without those type numbers Buffalo will be battling their hearts out to make a playoff position. Montreal's once promising goaltending depth is now precarious at best and far less deep and competitive as last year. They've also done little to improve their 5 on 5 game which was 26th overall in goals for last year. Ottawa had another glaring sign the franchise is in trouble when yet another superstar was rumoured to want to jump ship this summer. They also lost arguably their top defensive defender and only added Gonchar to compensate and with Leclaire's lackluster numbers and nobody showing signs of being ready to take over full time, the team is looking to be amidst the league leaders in goals against which when combined with their lack of secondary scoring they may be positioned for a lottery pick.
For those factors, under certain circumstances, I can see any team in the Northeast winning the division but if I had to put money on it I'd say Boston takes the division.
Now for statistical predictions!
Name - GP - G - A - Pts - PIMS
Kessel - 82 - 43 - 30 - 73 - 20
Versteeg - 80 - 23 - 35 - 58 - 35
Bozak - 82 - 15 - 41 - 56 - 22
Kadri - 59 - 10 - 22 - 32 - 52
Grabovski - 82 - 16 - 38 - 54 - 56
Kulemin - 82 - 20 - 25 - 45 - 68
Caputi - 60 - 6 - 15 - 21 - 70
Mitchell - 65 - 7 - 18 - 25 - 20
Armstrong - 82 - 18 - 19 - 37 - 95
Orr - 81 - 3 - 7 - 10 - 245
Brown - 79 - 5 - 3 - 8 - 140
Sjostrom - 82 - 6 - 8 - 14 - 12
Mueller - 15 - 4 - 5 - 9 - 10
Irwin - 12 - 3 - 2 - 5 - 2
Phaneuf - 82 - 17 - 34 - 51 - 105
Beauchemin - 75 - 6 - 19 - 25 - 39
Komisarek - 78 - 3 - 12 - 15 - 135
Kaberle - 75 - 8 - 38 - 46 - 34
Schenn - 82 - 8 - 21 - 28 - 104
Gunnarsson - 65 - 6 - 23 - 29 - 18
Lebda - 20 - 2 - 3 - 5 - 10
Finger - 8 - 0 - 1 - 1 - 15
Giguere - 49 - 23 - 20 - 3 - .913% - 2.55 - 3
Gustavsson - 37 - 17 - 16 - 3 - .908% - 2.70 - 2
With said individual stats, the team stats would be as follows.
W 40 - L 36 - OTL 6 - PTS 86 - GF 229
Based on last year, 86 points is good enough for 10th in the East.
229 GF would be good for about 13th in the league.
With these projections, the Leafs will at the very least be battling for a playoff position come seasons end and with me being off a little bit (hopefully) on my Win/Loss ratio, the Leafs may be able to squeak out a playoff spot.
As I stated earlier, the Northeast is wide open and if they don't win the division and get 3rd by default (realistically probably wont but not as far off as some may think), then I see them finishing anywhere 7th-10th.
Flame away hb users