The Maple Leafs had a great run in the regular season and surprised a lot of people by earning the 5th in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Leafs and the Bruins gave us one memorable playoff series. Toronto won Games 5 and 6 force a final showdown back in Boston and found themselves up 4-1 with 11 minutes to go. Then a collapse so epic that it made Cubs fans feel bad occurred, with Boston scoring twice in the final 1:22 to force overtime where they eventually won. Thankfully the Blackhawks served up some revenge in June with those fantastic 17 seconds. We got your back Toronto!
Leafs' general manager Dave Nonis had himself quite the busy summer. He acquired goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the Kings for Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin. On draft day he acquired Dave Bolland from the Hawks for draft picks. Nonis signed, or should I say overpaid, David Clarkson to a seven year deal while letting Mikhail Grabovski walk away.
Today we have Chemmy from Pension Plan Puppets to give us some insight on what we can expect out of the Leafs this year.
The Maple Leafs surprised a lot of people by getting the 5th seed in the 2013 playoffs. Was that the product of the shortened season or are the Leafs ready to be a perennial playoff team once again?
The Leafs shot the lights out last season and actually were only a couple points ahead of where they were at the same time in 2011-12. I'd chalk them walking away with the 5th seed as a product of a short season.
If you had asked me before this summer if I thought it was something they could build on I'd have said yes and then Dave Nonis exploded our cap space to bring in David Clarkson, Dave Bolland, Jonathan Bernier and lock up Tyler Bozak long term.
Boy that was a lot of money given to David Clarkson! How do you feel about his contract and will he ever be able to live up to it?
David Clarkson will probably be useful and productive this season and I hope next season. Bob McKenzie said something today to the effect of "there's no way he'll be useful in years 4, 5, 6 or 7". I'm really torn to be honest; he scores a lot of goals which is nice, his underlying possession numbers are fine, nothing unsustainable per se, but he's a guy whose career high in points is 46, and his second best season is 32 points. Seven years?
Nazem Kadri nearly produced a point a game in his first full season in the NHL. Are you happy with his "bridge" contract or would have rather locked him up long term now?
I'm happy Kadri is under contract and while I would have liked to see him locked up to something like van Riemsdyk's deal I'll take two years real cheap. He's not a point per game player, but a young 60pt center is nothing to sneeze at. Big Kadri fan.
Is what we saw from Jake Gardiner in the playoffs what we can expect from him going forward?
Gardiner is the truth. Hope Randy Carlyle lets him play this season.
James Reimer seemed to do a pretty good job last season so the Leafs rewarded him by trading for Jonathan Bernier. How do you see the goaltending situation playing out over the season?
I think Reimer is a better goalie than Bernier, and I think the Leafs are trying to hand the reins to Bernier because of his potential and upside. I'll be happy if Bernier turns out to be a stud, but I'm not sure he showed much in LA and it feels like an insult to Reimer to lose his job after dragging a team to their first playoff berth in 9 years.
Dave Bolland recently said that he sees a lot of what he saw in Chicago in the Leafs. Is he right or are their some really good pot dealers in Toronto?
Bolland's analysis is on par with his ability to be an effective first line center in the NHL.
I don't harbor any particular ill will to Tyler Seguin; it's not his fault commentators talked the kid up to insane heights. It could have gone differently, but with Phil Kessel over point per game for the last two seasons while dragging a boat anchor in Bozak up and down the rink it's hard to feel too upset about what we paid to get him.
Could Tyler Seguin be an elite player? Probably. Is Phil Kessel an elite player? No question.
Thanks again to Chemmy for his help and be sure to follow him on Twitter @felixpotvin, he is great follow during hockey season. The Rat will make his return to Chicago on October 19th and the Hawks will travel to Toronto on December 14th.