Toronto Maple Leafs Season Preview

They were supposed to make all the noise this off-season. Instead, we heard the sound of silence.

GM Brian Burke is one of the league’s most upfront and vocal executives in the NHL, and upon his arrival to one of hockey’s truest mecca, Toronto, he made it especially clear that the Leafs were about to undergo a massive overhaul.

While many names have come and gone since his proclamation, one question still looms one of the league’s most prestigious franchises: Are they good?

Not yet.

Forward Nik Antropov was traded at the deadline from Toronto to the New York Rangers. Dominic Moore fled the scene, too. One shouldn’t too greatly recoil at the loss of the aforementioned players, as they are far from elite. However, they were among the best players on the team last year, which is a knock on the team’s offense.

Jason Blake was a yo-yo player last season–up and down he went. Players like Ponikarovsky, Grabovski and Hagman had respectable numbers, but not the kind that jump out at you. Aside from those players you have an average lineup.

Boy, wouldn’t it be great if the team had a GM willing to bring in some talent, eh?

They do. But he didn’t.

What Burke did do, to his credit, was bring an element of toughness back into a Toronto team that was pushed around a bit too much last season.

Mike Komisarek signed in the off-season. So did Francois Beauchemin. Those two defensive warriors, along with Luke Schenn, will greatly improve play in Toronto’s zone. Add in Tomas Kaberle’s offensive capabilities, and the Leafs’ defense could be one of the better units in the league.

But that’s where a reliable offense would be greatly welcomed.

The big question for Leafs fan should be goaltending. Jonas Gustavsson may very well be a “monster,” but he and I have played in the same number of NHL games–zero. Joey Macdonald can’t scare a cat, much less an NHL sniper. Where does that leave the Leafs? With Vesa Toskala. An .891 save percentage through 53 games won’t get the Leafs to where they want to be.

Boy, wouldn’t it be great if the team had a GM willing to bring in some talent, eh?

They do. But he didn’t.

Rest assured, however, that at some point this season Burke will make a splash. Kaberle could be the guy to go.  No player is safe under Burke’s management.

The question is: Will they trade to make a run at the playoffs or will they trade because they know they have no shot?

Ask Burke.

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