Between the end of June and early July a number of
teams around the NHL made some significant moves. Whether it was a big trade
or a major free agent signing, teams were not shy about making some bold moves
to improve their team.
The Leafs were not one of them.
Oh sure, the Leafs made some moves to tinker with
the roster. But they didn’t make a single move that you could honestly call “significant”.
What Nonis did was slap some fancy lipstick on the
proverbial pig and try to sell it as the “Maple Leafs 2.0”.
keep trotting out the same old pig with some shiny new lipstick and we are all
supposed to be impressed.
That being said, this is what I liked and didn’t
like about what team “Shana-Nonis” (Copyright Leafs Nation) did the last few
What was good
Drafting William Nylander.
Hey, any player with hair that good can’t be all
that bad. The bottom line is that he has the potential to be for the Leafs up
front what Morgan Rielly is on defence; a core player for years to come. But
barring the mother of all training camps Leafs fans won’t be able to chant “Nylander”
at the ACC for a few years.
Promoting Steve Spott from the Marlies to be one of Randy
Carlyle’s new assistant coaches.
Hopefully the promotion of Spott will mean better
production from Kadri and a bounce-back year for Clarkson. Then again, Clarkson
doesn’t have to do much to qualify for a “bounce-back” year.
NOT paying Dave Bolland $27.5 million dollars over
I mean seriously, have some G.M.’s lost their
The return of super-pest Leo Komarov.
On vacation in PEI I ran into a huge Leafs fan. He
feels the return of Komarov will mean a return to the post-season for the
Leafs. While that is a bit of a stretch, it is always nice to see card carrying
members of the Leafs nation in other parts of the country. I am looking forward
to the day that Komarov “accidentally” falls into Carey Price and the result is a line-brawl
at the Bell Centre. The sanctimonious Montreal press corps will wet their pants
at the sight of Komarov falling into
Price. That alone will make his signing worthwhile.
What was bad
Well, the Leafs still don’t have a number one centre
and they still need another top four defenceman.
That is a very bad thing for a team desperately
trying to get back into the playoffs, let alone become a consistent force in
the Eastern Conference.
Not a whole lot.
Carlyle is still the coach, Phaneuf is still the Leafs number one defenceman and
David Clarkson is still in Toronto.
This was a typical Leafs off-season. The team goes
out and acquires a combination of aging defencemen (Robidas), good depth
players (Komarov and Santorelli) and then everyone tries to over-hype the
significance of all of their moves.
“Hey everybody, Mike Santorelli has solid possession
numbers. Our problems are over!”
“C’mon guys, Roman Polak is a right-handed shooting
D-man, our problems in our own end are over!”
The bottom line for “Shana-Nonis”
is the team still doesn’t have enough talent to compete with the big boys in
the NHL over the course of 82 games. The Leafs still don’t have a stud at centre and they still don’t have
an elite defenceman.
That is a great question. If this team struggles
early then “Shana-Nonis” might decide to drop the hammer on Carlyle and promote
Spott as the new Head Coach. As of right now it is still too early to tell what “Shana-Nonis” will do with Carlyle.
Shanahan is far from perfect but even he must see
the root of the problem with the Leafs roster. It is a problem that has
troubled the Leafs for years. The Leafs continue to take third and fourth line
talent and try to spin them as first and second line talent.
Truly good teams (The LA Kings for example) don’t do things like that.
The off-season wasn’t a total disaster for the
Leafs. But the absence of the Leafs two most important needs fall on the shoulders
Final Off-Season Grade: C +