Following their end-of-season collapse, Dave Nonis told TSN Radio 1050 that he's looking to get the Leafs back to where they were two seasons ago when the team broke their seven-year playoff drought.
The GM said the additions of Leo Komarov, Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak were made with the expectation that the veterans would set an on-ice example of the way the Leafs want their top players to compete.
“Those players can generate a lot of emotion and they can bring players into the fight with them, and that's what we had two years ago and we need to get it back this year,” Nonis said.
Despite the addition of two defencemen, Nonis said he wasn't overly concerned about his back-end's overall talent level, but felt like their fit as a group of six wasn't ideal.
“We wanted to change the way we played the game. With Robidas and Roman, you're talking about guys who play very very hard and the compete-level of those guys is a big part of their game and we think it'll rub off with the rest of our group.”
Besides the players he did sign and acquire, Nonis also weighed in on the loss of centre Dave Bolland, and the Josh Gorges situation, in which the veteran blueliner accepted a deal to the Sabres after vetoing a trade that would have sent him to Toronto.
“We did put a significant offer on the table for him,” Nonis said of the Bolland negotiations. “We felt it was reflective of his value to us, where he should be paid and there was another team that felt like he should be paid more.”
“I may find that odd, but that's his choice and he's earned that right.”
To round out his roster, Nonis mentioned he is still in the market for forward depth, pointing out the Leafs are looking to put an emphasis on increasing the reliance on their fourth line.
“Your third and fourth lines have to contribute,” Nonis said, adding that he recognizes the league's top teams use their fourth line for between eight and 12 minutes a game in order to lighten the load on top-end players and prevent them from wearing down.
In addition to possible future free agent additions, Nonis speculated Josh Leivo, David Broll and possibly Sam Carrick could challenge for a roster spots up front next season, while on the back-end, Petter Granberg and Stuart Percy could work their way into the mix.
Addressing the rumours surrounding back-up goaltender James Reimer, Nonis said he is fielding offers for the 26-year-old, but if a deal can't be reached expects him to be ready for the start of camp.
“If there's a deal that makes sense for us to move James Reimer, and makes us better and gives us assets that are reflective of what he is, which is a goaltender who has been a no. 1, who could challenge for a no. 1 here, then you'll look to do it,” Nonis said.
“But it's difficult finding quality goaltenders. We think he is one and I would expect if there isn't a deal that makes sense that he would come to camp in the best shape that he could possibly be in with the mindset to play in as many games as he can.”
Nonis: Leafs looking to increase 'compete-level'