A Look Ahead to The Leafs Season 10/11
For the last decade, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been awful. They haven't made the playoffs and have not been able to build a strong group of youth studs via player development and draft.
With Brian Burke now at the helm, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But make no illusions, they will be lucky to contend for a playoff spot come March.
Why They Will Be More Competitive as a Hockey Team
The Team now has a clear identity. Something that has been missing for a handful of years. At the very least they will be hard to play against, and with a strong (and deep) blue line of Kaberle, Beauchemin, Phaneuf, Lebda, Komiserick, Schenn, they will be hard to score against. The additions of Versteeg, Armstrong, Phaneuf, all solidify this need.
Health. The Leafs have Mike Komiserick back healthy and ready to play. If their key players, such as Gustavsson, Phaneuf, Kessel, Beauchemin remain healthy and in the lineup, they can play alot minutes and makeup for the lack of overall team depth.
Young Players. Toronto now has a few young players that show some promise and can be part of the program for the next few years ahead. Shenn, Kadri, Bozac, Gustavsson should all be around for the next 5 years and form a core nucleus.
Why They Will Be in the Middle of The Pack
Hockey is a two way game. As good as they are on the backend, and keeping it out of their own net; they are inadequate in todays NHL standards of putting it in the net. The object of the game is to still score more goals than the other team to win. Outside of Kessel (and maybe Versteeg) the Leafs lack a true front line centreman and forwards that can put in 30 goals and 80 points per year. Bozac is young and unproven. Kulemin is getting better but is not there yet. This is a far cry from the 'Beasts of the East' of Washington (Ovechkin, Semin, Backstrom), Pittsburgh (Crosby, Malkin, Staal), Philadelphia (Carter, Richards, Briere) or even the other mid range teams like Ottawa (Alfreddson, Spezza, Michalek), Tampa Bay (Stamkos, St.Louis, Lecavalier, Gagne), Boston (Krejci, Savard, Horton, Bergeron), or Montreal (Camelleri, Gionta, Plekanec).
With those hard facts ahead of them, it is easy to see why Brian Burke has been unwilling to trade Kaberle. He needs a top 6 forward who can put up points, play the power play, and help carry the offensive load with Kessel. This has been not easy to do, as the Leafs are up against he salary cap, and bonifide top-6 forwards generally come with a price tag of $3.5 million+.
The Leafs will be better, but they are still on the outside looking in. Burke still needs to make a big move and get accountable skill at forward to compete in the East. This may come as injuries are always an issue, and may help the Leafs in moving a D-man in the coming months.
For The VBlog Version Click Here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpOr-p2OThE