Kessel would be much more consistent and productive if he had a decent centre to feed him the puck. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

2013 Season Preview – Toronto Maple Leafs


Last Season – The Leafs cemented their legacy of sorts by becoming the only team to go from lockout to lockout without making the playoffs.  They finished 34-37-11 good enough for 12th place in the Eastern Conference

Saying Goodbye – GM Brian Burke, Luke Schenn, Jeff Finger, Matt Lashoff, Colby Armstrong, Jay Rosehill, Joey Crabb, Philippe Dupuis

Saying Hello – James Van Riemsdyk, Keith Aucoin, Jay McClement

Ready to Step In – Morgan Rielly was Canada’s best defenseman at the World Juniors and will be given every opportunity to make the team out of the mini training camp.  At least that was before Burke was fired, and the newer regime might be more willing to take their time with Rielly.

Look For A Bounce-back Season FromNikolai Kulemin had a great start to the season in the KHL, but must continue that level of play on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur if the Leafs have any chance at the post season. Me must score more than once every 10 games.

Hardware Hopefuls – none

Upside – With Burke gone, teams might be more willing to deal with the Leafs *Ahem* Vancouver, which means that the trade market opens up a little wider for them.  Burke made some good decisions and some bad ones, but his very public arrogance and bravado turned many people off dealing with him.

Downside – This team still lacks two vitally important pieces.  A number 1 centre and a top goalie.  Whether Leafs fans and management like to admit it or not, (and many actually do), James Reimer isn’t going to carry the Leafs to the playoffs.  The goalie issue is easily addressed with Roberto Luongo, but the Leafs would be best to wait until the asking price goes down, which it eventually will.

 

2013 Prognosis – While the Leafs play the waiting game for Luongo, there is still a startling lack of scoring depth up the middle which will keep the Leafs out of the postseason…again.

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