Steve Simmons seems to think that the Toronto Maple Leafs could be very close what the New York Rangers were in the Stanley Cup Finals. Sure, he also says that the Western Conference has proven without a doubt to be the superior conference, but if the Leafs could be in the same league as the Rangers, and lets face it, the biggest advantage the Rangers would have would be Henrik Lundqvist and Jonathan Bernier isn’t too far behind him.
Simmons says that “playing catch-up in the East is not impossible”. It certainly isn’t, if you can get past the strongest teams, (the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins) you could be on the road to the Stanley Cup Final. Think about the teams in the Eastern Conference finals this year: the Rangers and Montreal Canadiens. The Leafs were competitive with those teams all season long.
Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean has an inkling of where Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf will be playing next season.
Doug MacLean on FAN 590 "I, for some reason, have a funny feeling that Phaneuf ends up in SJ"
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) June 17, 2014
He goes on to say that he keeps hearing that Joe Thornton will end up in New York along with Phaneuf going to say. He says that a top three defense core of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns and Phaneuf would be a formidable, while expensive, group. Of course, the loss of Dan Boyle facilitates all this talk.
Former Leafs coach Ron Wilson could be close to returning to the NHL. He is still in the running for the head coaching jobs in Pittsburgh and Florida. It will be interesting to see him in any of those cities as with the Penguins, he’d be coaching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. With the Panthers, he would be leading a very young team. That wasn’t particularly his strong suit in Toronto.