The Toronto Maple Leafs Once Again Fail the Summer (But Optimism Warranted)

The Toronto Maple Leafs are all over the place, don't seem to have a plan.
May 27, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars defensemen Chris Tanev (3) and Edmonton Oilers forward Mattias Janmark (13) battle for a loose puck during the first period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2024; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Dallas Stars defensemen Chris Tanev (3) and Edmonton Oilers forward Mattias Janmark (13) battle for a loose puck during the first period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports / Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
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The Toronto Maple Leafs have spent most of their money and their team isn't really any better than it was.

With that in mind, however, it's important to remember that you don't have to build your entire team in one day - the Toronto Maple Leafs have some dead-weight on their roster and could concievably start the year as-is, give auditions to younger players, then add at the deadline.

However, what they did today leaves a lot to be desired.

A series of high-risk moves with limited upside and at the end of the day they don't have either the number-one goalie or defenseman that they desperatly needed.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Once Again Fail the Summer (But Optimism Warranted)

The Leafs spent a ton of money on two old defenesman and a 30 year-old non-star winger. This money is poorly spent because there just isn't that much upside.

A healthy Tanev could help them win the Cup now, but the contract is awful. That said, it's worth it if the team wins while Matthews is in his prime. I'm all for moves like this, but by going cheap in net the Leafs undercut the one part of their off-season that was acutally good.

What I mean is that it makes sense to go all-in in the short-term so Tanev is sensible. But then you turn around and sign Stolarz and pair him with the injury prone and inexperience Joseph Woll and it ruins it.

Tanev makes sense in a world where you acquire Jusse Saros. Does he make that much sense trying to win with Woll/Stolarz? Defintely not as much.

As for OEL, he's fine but he has no upside. due to his age. He was good on FLA as a 3rd pairing guy, but the Leafs shoudn't pay $4 million to a 3rd pairing guy. He's 32 - can he play in the top-four? Did he deserve a huge raise? He was a 54% player on Florida's 3rd pairing, but so were Liljegren/Giordano on Toronto and they did it for nearly the league-minimum.

I don't mind bringing Domi back, but he's so one-dimensional there's nowhere good for him to play. Now he's more expensive and older. Seems dumb when you have so many cheap forwards to try out.

This is a weird off-season because collectively, based on them money they spent, the money they have left, their options, and whether or not their team is better, the team failed.

And yet, individually, I like most of the players they picked up. There blue-line is a lot better at moving the puck and it's actually pretty good, if Tanev is who they hope for.

I like that they lost Lyubushkin and Edmundson, and it's fine that they didn't go nuts for Bertuzzi. I hate losing Robertson but will reserve judgement until something actually happens.

I am pretty disapointed that Chychrun went so cheaply and the Leafs weren't in on it. Same with Ullmark/ Markstrom, but ultimately Woll could be amazing.

To sum up my thoughts on day one: the Leafs spent their money in a risky fashion that doesn't seem to have the upside needed to justify it. They didn't pursue value players or players with upside and after spending most of their money, their team isn't much better.

BUT - with the Core and Knies/McMann/Woll/Liljegren/Cowan/Minten I remain optimistic. If I can sum up my problem with their moves in one sentence: they went with risky expensive short-term moves that are designed to win now but undercut them by not getting a quality goalie.

Ulimately they need a number-defenseman, an elite goalie and a strong 3rd line cetnre and they spent almost all their money and went 0-3. I'm in the weird position of hating their moves and likeing the players they got. I think they made a bunch of unforced errors, but still remain a Cup Contender.

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I will reserve final judgement until I see how much room they leave to develop and play prospects and what they do with the Jarnkrok/Kampf/Reaves money, but overall I have to say it's been a very disapointing off-seaosn so far.