How Does the Current Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Compare to Last Season?

The Leafs significantly changed their defense and goaltending during NHL Free Agency. Has their lineup improved from the one that finished last season?
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two
Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs Defense is Now More Balanced

Trading for Tanev's rights and securing him to a long-term deal was the biggest free agent move by the Leafs. The right-handed defenseman brings a shot-blocking veteran presence and an underrated puck-moving ability to the Leafs blue line.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is a left-handed shot but has experience playing both sides. He brings length to the Maple Leafs defense along with offense. Toronto's defensemen scored less than thirty goals last season, ranking near the bottom of the league and less than half of the total of the league-leading Colorado Avalanche.

The Leafs hope that Ekman-Larsson can bring added offense to the blue line, the role expected of last year's disaster signing of John Klingberg.

The term for Tanev and Ekman-Larsson (six years and four years) is excessive, but such risks are required when signing free agents.

A look at the contracts signed by Lyubushkin, Edmundson, and Brodie shows that the Leafs did well by comparison. Each of the former Maple Leafs signed multi-year deals with at least a $3 million AAV.

The term for the Leafs new defensemen is longer, but the AAV is only slightly higher than the former trio. Edmundson and Lyubushkin are limited in their puck-handling and offensive ability. Brodie's years in Toronto were a success and helped stabilize the Maple Leafs blue line, but last season he greatly regressed and it was time to move on.

Heading into next season the Leafs depth chart on defense now consists of Morgan Rielly, Tanev, Jake McCabe, Ekman-Larsson, Timothy Liljegren, and Simon Benoit. Further down the list are Conor Timmins, Phillipe Myers, and Hakanpaa.

Tanev and Ekman-Larsson are more well-rounded than Lyubushkin and Edmundson. Hakanpaa is a low-risk gamble that could be a huge help to the team's penalty-killing if he regains his health.

The Leafs now have a more balanced blue line compared to last season's group. There is offense (Rielly, Liljegren and Ekman-Larsson) along with physical play and toughness (Tanev, McCabe, Benoit).

The current edition of the Maple Leafs defense is much better than last year. How long Tanev and Ekman-Larsson can remain viable defenders and stay healthy will determine how great the improvement is.