May 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel (81) celebrates his goal with teammates on the bench against the Boston Bruins during game six of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at the Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Bruins 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

2013-14 Season Preview - Toronto Maple Leafs

LAST SEASON

Regular Season:  For the first time since the lockout of 2004-05, the Toronto Maple Leafs experienced the post-season.  They finished in 5th place in the Eastern Conference largely on the performance of the likes of Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri

Playoffs:  Taking the highly-favored rival Bruins to 7 games in round 1, the Leafs had a 3 goal advantage in the third period before blowing that lead and losing in overtime.

 

CHANGES

Out: F Clarke MacArthur, F Mikhail Grabovski, F Matt Frattin, F Leo Komarov, F Ryan Hamilton, D Michael Kostka, D Ryan O’Byrne, D Mike Komisarek, G Ben Scrivens

In:  F David Clarkson, F Dave Bolland, G Jonathan Bernier

Ready To Make The Jump:  D Morgan Rielly

 

BIG 3 FACTORS

1.  RFA Conundrum: It is quite possible that the Leafs could begin the season and play an extended period of time without one or both of Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson.  Both players were key factors in the Leafs success last season, but due to cap restraints will have to take less than market value to sign this season.

2. Goaltending Battle:  The Leafs traded for a quality goaltending prospect in Jonathan Bernier, who will finally get the opportunity to be a number 1 goalie after serving as the understudy to Jonathan Quick in LA.  It will be in interesting battle, as James Reimer was good down the stretch and in the playoffs.

3.  NHL 24/7:  With the Leafs being part of the Winter Classic, will the potential distraction of having HBO’s cameras on them for the the better part of the first half of the season have an effect on the club?

 

PROGNOSIS:  The Leafs took a big step forward last year, and they are playing a consistent style of hockey under Randy Carlyle.  Franson was probably the team’s best blueliner last year, and Kadri had a breakout season.  Not having them in the lineup from the start will negatively affect their ceiling.

PREDICTION:  The Leafs should assure themselves of a playoff spot.  4th in Atlantic Division.

 

 

 

We have been and will be previewing every NHL team ahead of Training Camp which for most teams will begin on Sept 11th.  As a twist, we will be unveiling our teams in reverse order to how I predict they will finish in the standings.  Here is the schedule (you can click on a team name to see the preview for that team):

Predicted Finish Atlantic Metropolitan Central Pacific
1 Sept 9 Sept 8 Sept 7 Sept 6
2 Sept 5 Sept 4 Sept 3 Sept 2
3 Sept 1 Aug 31 Aug 30 Aug 29
4 Maple Leafs Capitals Wild Ducks
5 Canadiens Hurricanes Avalanche Oilers
6 Lightning Islanders Jets Coyotes
7 Sabres Blue Jackets Stars Flames
8 Panthers Devils

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Tags: 2013-14 Season Preview Cody Franson Jonathan Bernier Nazem Kadri Phil Kessel Toronto Maple Leafs

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