When I look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, I not too impressed. Sure you got the likes of Phil Kessel , Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, but that where it basically ends. There are no big superstars like Sidney Crosby or Steve Stamkos. In fact, their one top scorer, Mikhail Grabovski, is probably not well known outside the city of Toronto. In this article, I will point out the pluses and minuses about this year’s Leaf squad.
Phil Kessel – This guy is obviously the heart of the Leafs offense, finishing sixth in the NHL in total points last year with 82 (37 goals, 45 assists).
Dion Phaneuf – This guy has proven in the past that he can be a good offensive defenceman. He scored 12 goals, tallied 32 assists in the 2011-12 season, totaling 44 points altogether.
Tim Connolly – He scored 13 goals and tallied 23 assists in 2011-12. This guy does have the potential to be a good offensive player. Hopefully he will have a breakout season. If so, imagine how the Leafs will look on the ice with both Connolly and Kessel racking up points. If Phanuef plays the way I know he can play, Toronto will be a force to be reckon with.
Nikolai Kulemin – Another under rated player in the NHL who can score. He finished the 2011-12 season with a +2.
Ryan Hamilton – If this kid gets called up from Toronto’s Minor League squad, the Marlies, (in which he’s the captain) he may help the Leafs offence. I have watched quite a few Toronto Marlie games during the lockout. This kid can really light it up with his goal scoring skills.
Nazem Kadri – Now that Brian Burke is no longer general manager, it will be interesting on whether this kid will get more playing time with the big club or whether he will be stuck in the Minors for the majority of the season. Leafs fans in recent years blamed Burke for keeping Kadri in the Minors. Even though he hadn`t played with the Leafs too often, he became a fan favorite almost from the time he was drafted.
Getting rid of Luke Schenn in the off season – I am glad to see this guy gone. Last year I thought he was the worse defenseman on the squad.
Goaltending – Unlike the 2010-11 season, starting netminder, James Reimer had a sub-par season last year.
Dion Phanuef – He hasn’t been the player he was in Calgary yet. Despite racking up 44 points last year, he finished the season with a -10 plus/minus rating.
Mikhail Grabovski – I just found out very recently on Twitter that he will be out for the year because he has to undergo season ending surgery. This will certainly leave a gaping hole in the Leafs offence.
Phil Kessel – His plus/minus rating must get better this year. He finished the 2011-12 season with a -10.
Tyler Bozak – He is not considered, in my opinion, a good face-off guy. He tends to lose a lot of face-offs during a game.
Defense – I’m not sure if the Leafs have a good solid defence to help them win games.
Well, there you have it folks. a breakdown of what I think of this year’s Leaf squad. When I look at the pluses and minuses, I give this team a B-
Update: The Maple Leafs have placed Tim Connolly on waivers today. The Leafs also traded Matthew Lombardi to Phoenix last night for a fourth round pick.