The Toronto Maple Leafs are a hot mess. Certain members of the family care way more about where players are from than how good they are. Some players just don’t show up very often. Then too, there is the question of what sort of maturity (if any) the roster possess as a whole.
- Phil Kessel will almost certainly turn in another damn good October.
- All of last years youngsters gained valuable NHL experience, and several of them got AHL playoff experience playing for the Marlies,
- Their most important forward, Mikhail Grabovski is locked up long term.
- Goaltending is more than a question it’s a problem.
- The issue of consistency for the whole team is still up in the air,
- The defense needs to tighten up dramatically.
High: Bubble team, finding some equilibrium in the neighborhood of their best play and shifting three of their overtime losses to regulation wins, and three regulation losses to wins would be a nine point swing. It’d be easy to point out six close games they could have done better in.
Low: Afterthought/lottery. Injuries to Kessel or Grabovski up front, or Reimer failing to improve or getting worse will doom this team.
Neither the Sabres nor the Canadiens improved much, if at all this off season, and with the young players coming in a little more confident and experienced, this team could see a big bounce if Reimer returns to the .921sv% he put up over his first half season in the NHL. How much pressure Burke feels to make a good impression on the new ownership and keep his job will also be important. You also can’t forget the possibility of a big trade that improves the goaltending.