The Toronto Maple Leafs are about to embark upon a new season and optimism is in the air.
As it should be – the Toronto Maple Leafs are a top team and should compete for the Stanley Cup, and maybe even win it.
However, there are few things about their roster that are completely misguided.
It’s early, and the team is bound to make changes (they are over the cap), but here is a list of things that are true and which will soon become obvious to everyone involved with and/or who cares about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Things That Will Soon Become Obvious to All Toronto Maple Leafs Fans
The first thing is this:
Sam Lafferty isn’t very good. He certainly can’t be in a competitive team’s top-nine, as he was in last night’s pre-season lineup. In fact, Lafferty is nothing more than a replacement player, and because his salary is higher than the league minimum, he should be replaced with Alex Steeves at the first possible chance.
Lafferty has played parts of four NHL seasons and when he is on the ice, his team allows more puck possession, shots against, scoring chances against and goals against than they get. There isn’t any reason to think he should be a starting forward on a competitive team. Frankly, his stats profile is horrendous.
Second thing is this:
Ryan Reaves is not even a good AHL player. Expect him to be a healthy-scratch a lot and for the Toronto Maple Leafs to regret his signing almost right away. Three years? LOL.
Third thing is this:
The Leafs blue-line is a joke. John Klingberg is not anywhere close a second-pairing player at this point in his career, and Simon Benoit is just one of the worst players in all of the NHL.
Fourth thing is that Nick Robertson has to be in the NHL.
Not only is he a good NHL player with more upside than most of the rest of the team, but his sub-million dollar salary is a godsend to the Toronto Maple Leafs at this time.
Fifth thing is that it’s pretty obvious that teams should trade from strength to address weakness and that the Leafs have a ton of forward strength, so Nylander for an elite defenseman is going to happen sooner or later.
Final thing is this: As presently constructed (i.e with Klingberg, Kampf, Reaves, Lafferty and no elite player on the blue-line) the Leafs will only be a top team this year if Matthews and Marner are at Hart Level, and if one of their goalies competes for the Vezina Trophy.
If Nylander clicks at 3C and they have an elite top-nine that will also really help, because as traditionally constructed, their bottom-six is almost as bad as their blue-line.
All that said, I’m an optimistic guy and I don’t think these issues will hamper the Leafs all year long. Still, they will all become obvious to everyone shortly.