Offseason Report: Toronto Maple Leafs
From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.
35-37-10, 80 points. Fourth in the Northeast Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference.
James van Riemsdyk, Jay McClement, Keith Aucoin
Colby Armstrong, Luke Schenn, Jonas Gustavsson, Philippe Dupuis, Joey Crabb
First round, 5th overall -- Morgan Rielly, D (WHL Moose Jaw)
Toronto’s offseason was defined by what GM Brian Burke didn’t do, rather than what he did.
As for what he did...
Burke scored the promising-yet-oft-injured van Riemsdyk for a defenseman, Schenn, that had fallen out of favor -- most notably with the ACC faithful.
He inked McClement to help Toronto’s woeful penalty kill, ranked 28th last season, and bought out the final year of Colby Armstrong’s contract, making amends for one of his costliest deals as Leafs GM (Armstrong signed for $9 million over three years and in return, missed 85 games and scored just nine goals.)
The problem, of course, is that Burke didn’t address either of Toronto’s biggest needs -- in goal, and at center.
The biggest unresolved issue continues to be in net, where the Leafs seem ready to enter the year with the one-two punch of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Burke gave the pair a vote of confidence and Remier says he’s determined to be a good No. 1, but the facts remain:
1) Poor goaltending played a key role in Toronto’s collapse last season.
2) No real changes have been made to address it.
At center, things remain equally unsolved -- especially on the top line. There’s hope that plugging van Riemsdyk between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel will do the trick but, if that doesn’t work, the Leafs are back to playing Mikhail Grabovski and/or Tyler Bozak in that role.
The wildcard in all of this is Toronto’s youth movement. The Leafs have three former first-rounders -- Carter Ashton, Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri -- that should push for roster spots. But are they ready to make the leap? The answer could be a factor in whether Toronto’s playoff drought ends, or extends to an eighth season.
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