To get you ready for the 2015-16 season, we will be previewing all 30 NHL in 30 days, division by division. Check the bottom of the page for a schedule of each preview.
Today’s team: Toronto Maple Leafs
2014-15 record: 30-44-8, 7th in the Atlantic
How they finished: Did not make the playoffs
Coach: Mike Babcock (1st year)
Notable additions: LW Taylor Beck, D Matt Hunwick, C Shawn Matthias, P.A. Parenteau
Notable subtractions: RW Phil Kessel, LW David Booth
Schedule against the Capitals: Sat. Nov. 7 at Washington, Sat. Nov. 28 at Toronto, Wed. Mar 2 at Washington
Outlook: No team made bigger moves in the offseason than Toronto with the hiring of Mike Babcock as head coach and Lou Lamoriello as general manager. Suddenly, a team with no identity that was seemingly going nowhere looks set for the future.
That's the good news. The bad news is that it is going to take awhile before you see any improvement on the ice.
After avoiding a rebuild, the Maple Leafs finally decided it was time to eat their vegetables. The notable additions listed above don't actually paint the real picture as Toronto spent much of the offseason bringing in prospects and committed to building through the draft. That will mean a few tough seasons, but if they stick to it, Toronto will be better off in the long run.
There are only two problems with this plan, however. If they stick to it, the Maple Leafs will be one of the worst teams in the NHL for two or three years. How will Babcock, one of the best coaches in the NHL, handle so many tough seasons? How will Toronto?
The Toronto media and fan base make it different than other hockey markets. Imagine if the New York Yankees decided to build through the draft. Everyone may be on board with the rebuild now, but how long before their patience wears out?
Expectations: Toronto finally seems to be embracing the rebuild they had been avoiding and they will be better for it. Eventually.
For this season, however, they are going nowhere fast. With no more Buffalo to push around, the basement of the Atlantic is squarely reserved for Toronto.
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See more team previews:
Carolina Hurricanes 8/23
Columbus Blue Jackets 8/24
New Jersey Devils 8/25
New York Islanders 8/26
New York Rangers 8/27
Philadelphia Flyers 8/28
Pittsburgh Penguins 8/29
Washington Capitals 8/30