Leafs Current Roster
Let’s look at the Leafs current roster, and its weak points and strong points.
Scoring goals shouldn’t be a problem for the Leafs. They were top ten in goals for last year, even with all those key injuries. If everyone stays healthy, as well as the addition of Blake, it will be much of the same. Of course, Blake will certainly not repeat what he did last year, but will most likely post around 30 goals. As for Bell, he will provide grit and the odd goal in a second/third-line role. They have a lot of depth, and it could come in handy if injuries play a part again.
Again, much of the same here. Other than the top four guys (barring any trades), there are only a few spots open for so many young players. I’m predicting, as it stands right now, for Colaiacovo and either White or Kronwall to fill the last two spots. The seventh spot is up for grabs. However, none of this is set in stone as the Leafs will have to make a trade, because they simply have too many defensemen under contract. They aren’t the best defensively (although a bit better then they get credit for), but they make up for it at the other end of the ice. They have speed for the most part, but just seem to rush it too much in their own end.
With a one-two punch of Raycroft/Toskala, they are looking pretty solid in that department. Raycroft isn’t that bad, he just played too many games last year. Toskala is a proven back-up, but maybe not a bona-fide starter quite yet. With the two together, they will push each other constantly, as both could play in the number 1 spot. Look for an improvement here nonetheless.
I’m a little nervous about the penalty killing as it stands right now. They have some young guys, along with Sundin and Blake, who can help as well. Although, I don’t think you should burn out your best players on something they aren’t supposed to be doing. Why do you think Mats didn’t score at all in the last month of last season? It was simply because he was doing too much penalty kill because no one else could handle it. They need to fix this problem somehow, or they will be sitting around 25th again in that department. I personally don’t know how to fix it. They should work on it a little more, because they have no room to bring anyone else in.
Need I say anything for the powerplay? They have plenty of options for first and second unit, on defense and offence. The only thing I could suggest is not rely so much on three specific plays, because believe it or not, teams do adapt. They need to include more options to make them difficult to defend. Look for them to be top 5 without question.
Overall, they have improved in some areas, but some weaknesses from last season are still evident. What do you think has most improved, or what has to be improved to succeed?