Here we are. Five days after the start of free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs have made more than a few moves looking to improve on the result they ended with last season.
However, the Leafs did not fail to bring in replacements. New to Toronto are Stephane Robidas, Mike Santorelli, Petri Kontiola. Matt Frattin and Leo Komarov are also returning to Toronto after one year absences.
So, have the Leafs improved?
Hard to say, but in parts, yes they have. The Leafs’ defense should be well more equipped to handle the opposition. Not only do Robidas and Polak provide veteran leadership, their presence should allow for head coach Randy Carlyle to divide the time more evenly between pairings. That should take some of the pressure off of Dion Phaneuf.
The other thing the Leafs have improved is their bottom-six. In recent years, the Leafs’ fourth-line has been a rarely-used line made for fighting. The third-line has been primarily used as an energy line that didn’t put that many points on the board. Now, with the additions that have been made, the Leafs look to be a team that is going to roll four lines every game and expect their fourth line to play more than five minutes a game.
So, the improvements might not be the most glamorous, but the type of players the Leafs have acquired should allow them to improve on their result. Only question is, will it be enough for them to return to the playoffs?