In Toronto, hockey is somewhat popular, so when their oft-maligned team managed to make the playoffs last season, as the fifth seed to boot, it was reason for celebration. Good thing the architect of that team, Brian Burke, is still around to continue building it for the foreseeable future. Anywho, the Maple Leafs got somewhat fortuitous in making the playoffs, as anybody who discusses puck possession numbers will be quick to tell you, but they still came extremely close to eliminating the Boston Bruins in the first round, before falling in a game seven overtime. So... onward and upward?
The answer is a clear... maybe? This is a team with some talent. Phil Kessel is very good. James van Riemsdyk stepped right in. Nazem Kadri finally made good on his prospect status, and still has room to grow. Joffrey Lupul will be healthy. The Leafs also brought in Dave Bolland and David Clarkson. Yes, Clarkson's deal is bad, but he still has some talent and will add some goals. And penalty minutes, which isn't good. He can replace Clarke MacArthur at least. Mikhail Grabovski? Probably not.
The Leafs have a few good players on defense too, led by Dion Phaneuf. Jake Gardiner and Morgan Reilly should contribute as well. In net, they have James Reimer, who I think is a good netminder. Which makes the trade for Jonathan Bernier odd. He is also good, but they had a solid backup in Ben Scrivens, and getting Bernier cost them Matt Frattin. I don't get that deal. Sure, they have goaltending security, but was it worth the price?
What we have here is a team with roughly the same roster, which will probably see some improvement on offense and defense but some decline in net. If they regress to the mean in terms of luck, that will hurt them, and they are in a conference with more teams now and such. I don't see the Maple Leafs pulling a Florida Panthers or anything. However, if there is a playoff team from the East that is going to fall out of the playoffs from last year, and somebody likely will, the Leafs may be the most likely choice.