THE LEAFS ARE COMING DOWN THIS FALL
As much as I hate to admit it, I think that the Leafs are going to hit the rock hard floor of the Eastern Conference basement very soon. Let’s take a look at their offseason transactions, and try to make some sense out of the 2002-2003 roster.
The Maple Leafs have a considerably large question mark between the pipes this season. Eddie Belfour is a good goalie, but I don’t think that he is as good as Curtis Joseph. However, you must recognize the fact that Balfour has won a Stanley Cup, and Joseph has not. That Cup gives Belfour experience that Joseph doesn’t have, but I don’t think that the Eagle can step it up and win games for the Leafs like Cujo did in the past for the Leafs.
Trevor Kidd is going to be a good backup. He is as good, if not better than Schwab. No worries there.
The Leafs have a few guys that can put the puck in the net, but not enough. Sundin is going to have another 40 goal season; Mogilny is going to step it up this year as well. After that, there really isn’t too much to look at. Tucker and Hoglund will score 20-25, Green might reach 20, Reichel will get 20 if he stays in TO, and Renberg will score 20 if he plays the whole season. McCabe is the only guy on D that can score…so basically the Leaf fans are going to see a pretty defensive game this season from the Buds.
The Leafs have some decent forwards who can play the defensive role. Although Shayne Corson is slowing down fast, he is still effective as a grinder. Fitzgerald is going to help, but he’s no Gary Roberts. If Tucker and Green play with the same intensity and heart that they showed during last year’s playoffs, then the Leafs’ are set for defensive forewards…and Alyn McCauley is steady as well…but not the goal scoring dynamo everyone thinks he’ll be.
The Leafs have a top 4 defensive core that is going to be good this year. McCabe, Svhela, Kaberle and Pilar. Add Lumme and Berg as the 5th and 6th respectively…that is a pretty good line-up. Not sensationial by any stretch, but it is decent. McCabe is a rising super-star on the blueline in the NHL. It’s really too bad that he doesn’t have a partner to help him. (Imagine having McCabe and Jovanaski as your 1,2 punch…I’m dreaming, but wouldn’t it be COOL!)
Overall, the Leafs have a line-up that looks like they are going to be a tough team to play against, but I am not sold on the idea that they are going to win as much as expected. They have a decent defensive unit, but there just isn’t the scoring support needed to have a successful team. The powerplay is going to be horrible this year, with McCabe, Sundin and Mogliny being the only guys that score…that’s insane! The Leafs are going to miss Roberts very very much for the first half of the season. It’s time to start dumping the junk and picking up some quality players.
I expect that the Leafs’ fans will grow tired very quickly of the sub-par play they will see this season; causing the Leafs’ brass to make a trade…from where, I have no idea, but I suspect it will contain a BIG NAME player with a BIG TIME CONTRACT that somebody is looking to dump for a cluster of younger, cheaper players…..could that be IGGY…KARIYA…PRONGER…
Only time will tell. All we can do is wait,
Before anybody says “What are you thinking, the Leafs have nothing to trade!” I say this…take a look at how Washington acquired Jagr, or Bure ended up in NY.