Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Maple Leafs!
Toronto Maple Leafs
2009-10: 30-38-14 (15th in East, missed the playoffs)
General Manager: Brian Burke (3rd Season)
Head Coach: Ron Wilson (3rd Season)
What they did in the off-season:
After a lengthy, public search for a trading partner to take Tomas Kaberle, the Leafs hit the deadline when his no-trade clause once again came into effect, and Kaberle will remain in Toronto. Presuming they would trade Kaberle, the Leafs had earlier signed free agent Brett Lebda to add defensive depth and fill what they expected would be a vacancy on the blueline.
Their other key free agent signings were forwards Colby Armstrong and Clarke MacArthur. Armstrong should add grit and work effor while MacArthur can add some scoring punch to a very thin top six forward group. General Manager Brian Burke was able to add some offensive touch with fresh Stanley Cup experience, acquiring Kris Versteeg from the Blackhawks in return for Viktor Stalberg and prospects Chris DiDomenico and Phillippe Paradis.
The team rounded out their summer by bringing in Matt Lashoff in a trade with the Lightning for defensive depth and re-signing Christain Hanson.
Biggest issue facing the team:
The Maple Leafs finished the 2009-10 season averaging 2.56 goals for, which tied them for 25th overall in the league. This team quite simply needs another another top-six forward to boost its scoring.
At a dismal 14 percent success rate, the Leafs' power play cannot get any worse than it was last season. A full season with 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel and the addition of Versteeg (20 goals last year), MacArthur (16 goals last year) and Armstrong (15 goals last year) should help the Leafs light the lamp a little more frequently. The team still lacks a legitimate No. 1 centre as Tyler Bozak enters camp as the top man after a solid rookie campaign.
Player to watch:
The recent appointment of Dion Phaneuf as captain indicates that this is indeed Phaneuf's team - even though this will be his first full season in Toronto. He will be asked to nurture the young players and teach with his physical play, but his most important task may be to change the culture on and off the ice. While there had been plenty of whispers out of Calgary that Phaneuf may not have been the ideal teammate, he has received rave reviews from both the coaching staff and fellow Leafs since arriving in Toronto. He has been saying all the right things in the press, now is the time for him to lead by example on the ice and put together another season similar to his first three seasons in the league as opposed to his last two.
While he's not the Norris Trophy nominee he was two years ago, he is certainly capable of more at the offensive end than the 12 goals he scored last season. He is a good bet for a bounceback season despite all the extra pressure associated with wearing the 'C' in a hockey-mad market.
For additional analysis, be sure to read Scott Cullen's fantasy take.