The Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot to prove in 2013-14 after making it to the playoffs last year.
I have to admit, though, I’m exited about this year’s team.
Signing Nazem Kadri was good move by the organization.
With the new divisions and realignment in the National Hockey League, this season is going to be exiting for Leaf fans. The Leafs are in Atlantic Division. Other teams in the division include: Florida, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Buffalo, and Detroit. Except for the two Florida teams, the remaining five are Leaf rivals.
The best thing about Toronto being in this division is the fact the Leaf/Red Wing rivalry is back. Remember when Toronto and Detroit were in the Norris Division. I do. I remember how exiting some of battles were involving the two teams, especially in the playoffs.
With Detroit being in the same division as the Leafs means the two teams are going to face each other more during the season. When Detroit were in the Western Conference, the Leafs didn’t play against the Red Wings that much and the rivalry died over the years.
Before I get to anything else, I have some big news for Leaf fans.
Toronto has signed Phil Kessel to an eight-year, $64 million contract extension. Kessel is going to be Leaf for a while, unless Toronto trades him within the next eight years.
Speaking of the future, I feel the Leafs goal tending is secure.
During the preseason, I got to see two young goalies, Drew MacIntyre and Chris Gibson play in the NHL. Both goalies were quite good. Of course, it is unlikely we’ll see them in the regular season, unless Jonathan Bernier or James Reimer get hurt.
The Leafs also boosted their offence a little bit during the off-season. The team picked up Dave Bolland, the guy who scored the winning goal that won the Stanley Cup for Chicago last year.
The Leafs also got David Clarkson from the New Jersey Devils. Unfortunately, Clarkson is suspended for 10 regular season games for leaving the bench on a illegal line change to join an altercation in a preseason game on September 22 against Buffalo.
I not sure about Buffalo, but judging what I saw in the preseason, Ottawa and Detroit are going t be tough to beat. As for the rest of the teams in the Atlantic Division, it is hard to say. I didn’t get a chance to see any of the teams play in the preseason. I didn’t get a clear analysis, but I’m sure Boston and Montreal is going to be tough to beat. Tampa Bay won’t be an simple task either with Steven Stamkos on the squad.
In fact, the Florida Panthers are probably the weakest team in the division.
How far is Toronto going to go this year? Winning the Stanley Cup is unrealistic, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Leafs are in the second round of the playoffs.