Friday, September 19, 2008

NHL approaches, how bad will the Leafs be ?

I know the glasses are always rosy in September but I fail to see why everyone is predicting a huge fall off for Toronto. Last year's edition finished with 83 points and where is the huge drop off ?

I've seen estimates of 25 wins for the season, as opposed to 36 last year. Is Mats Sundin worth 11 victories on his own, if so that $10 million from Vancouver may be a bargain for the Canucks.

Other than the now inevitable loss of Sundin, a big one I agree, where is this devastation going to come from ? Toronto lost Tucker, McCabe, Gill, Kilger, Wellwood and Raycroft and added Frogren, Fingers, Hagman, Grabovski, Kulemin, Joseph, Van Rynn, Mayers plus a full year of Bell.

So Tucker for Hagman: depending on which Tucker and which Hagman you get let's call it even.

McCabe for Van Rynn: McCabe has more upside offensively and more downside defensively, again let's call it even.

Gill for Fingers: Fingers is either a very solid #4 or the worst player in the NHL depending on who you listen to, Hal Gill is well, Hal Gill but let's buy into the Leaf haters and give this one to the '07-'08 team.

Kilger for Kulemin: nobody has been rushing out to offer Chad a new contract that I've heard about. Kulemin is said to be a solid two way player with 25 goal potential, kind of what everyone hoped Chad Kilger would become so let's give this one to youth.

Wellwood for Grabovski: I haven't seen much of Grabovski but apparently he's offensively gifted with great speed and Wellwood was the softest forward I've seen in a long time and lacked foot speed. Lets give this one to the '08-09 edition.

Joseph for Raycroft: maybe Andrew Raycroft will get his career back on track in Colorado but he was down right awful in Toronto, the opposite of Grant Fuhr Raycroft always found a way to give up "the goal that beat you" Cujo can't be any worse so I'm giving this to '08-'09.

I still haven't added in any bonus that Frogren, an X factor, the possible improvement of Strahlman, a full season of Bell and the addition of Jamal Mayers, a role player but a really good one, may bring.

Much has been made of the Leafs perceived inability to score goals this year, and I'm sure they aren't going to have anyone challenge for the Art Ross Trophy, however Blake and Bell both punched well below their weight last year so there may be room for improvement there. I also think the Leafs will be a much more sound defensive and fundamentals team under Ron Wilson which will offset some of the missing offense.

So unless Cliff decides to truly tank and deals out one, or both, of Kaberle or Kubina I think this is an 85 point team. Classic Leafs they will be too good for the top 3 picks but not good enough for the post season.

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