Toronto Maple Leafs: Atlantic Division Preview and Predictions

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs fans on a point blank scoring attempt against Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 21, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs fans on a point blank scoring attempt against Tuukka Rask #40 of the Boston Bruins in Game Six of the Eastern Conference First Round during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scotiabank Arena on April 21, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 02: Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC – MARCH 02: Head coach of the Montreal Canadiens  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens

The Montreal Canadiens surprised the hockey world when they defeated the highly favoured Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the playoffs on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.  What have they done this offseason to ensure another year of playoff success?

Key Offseason Acquisitions:

Mike Hoffman W (Signed from St. Louis)

Mathieu Perreault W (Signed from Winnipeg)

David Savard D (Signed from Tampa Bay)

Biggest Offseason Losses:

Tomas Tatar LW (Signed with New Jersey)

Phillip Danault C (Signed with L.A.)

Corey Perry RW (Signed with Tampa Bay)

Jesperi Kotkaniemi C (Offer Sheet with Carolina)

Roster Breakdown:

Looking at Montreal’s signings this offseason, I’d say the team is looking worse.  Mike Hoffman is a dubious upgrade from Tomas Tatar, and Mathieu Perreault is a huge step down from Philip Danault.

As I’m writing this, the Carolina Hurricane have also signed RFA Jesperi Kotkaniemi to an offer sheet.  Montreal still has time to match the offer, but I don’t think they will.  That’s a hit to their centre depth, and they’ll lose lose a young player with a seemingly bright future.

Montreal has brought in David Savard to take a roster spot opened up by an injured Shea Weber.  Savard is definitely not the difference make Shea Weber can be, but maybe Weber will pull a “Nikita Kucherov” and suddenly be healthy for the playoffs.  If that’s the case, Savard is a great depth pickup.

There are a lot of factors that will come into play for the Montreal Canadiens this season.  The health of Shea Weber and Carey Price is one.  The return of Jonathan Drouin is another.

Another factor is the growth of their young players.  Cole Caufield made an impact last season in his 10 game stint and 20 game playoff run, but how much will he improve over an entire season?  Nick Suzuki is still incredibly young and improving too.

It is a tough call, but I think the Montreal Canadiens will be worse this season.  Their strength was defense last season and the losses of Phillip Danault to free agency and Shea Weber to injury are huge.

The Montreal Canadiens barely made the playoffs last season and they’ll have a harder time making the cut this season.  If they can manage a post season birth though, they could upset some teams again with a returning Shea Weber and a hot Carey Price.