The Toronto Maple Leafs finished just one point out of the NHL playoffs last season but with some good off-season moves they may make the jump into the playoffs this year. The Toronto Maple Leafs signed winger Jason Blake in the off-season from the Islanders. Blake had 40 goals last season for New York and is expected to be put on the front line with Mats Sundin. That could be a major addition for Toronto this season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs also signed winger Mark Bell. The Toronto Maple Leafs did lose forward Michael Peca, Jeff O’Neill and Yanic Perreault. Another huge move for Toronto was getting goalie Vesa Toskala from San Jose. It is expected he will take the #1 job away from Andrew Raycroft. The Toronto Maple Leafs made no major changes on defense as they hope their young players like Carlo Colaiacovo, Ian White, Andy Wozniewski and Staffan Kronwall continue to improve.
The key player for the Toronto Maple Leafs is usually center Mats Sundin. He is also the Toronto Maple Leafs oldest player at 36 years and that is a concern. He may have a better statistical year in 2007-2008 simply for the fact that Blake will be on his wing. The Toronto Maple Leafs probably would have clinched a playoff spot if it wasn't for their injuries. Toronto lost 335 man-games to injury, with Darcy Tucker missing 24 games. The other problem for the Toronto Maple Leafs was the defense that ranked 25th in the league. Getting Toskala will help the defense play better as he was solid with San Jose. Bryan McCabe was solid on the blue line for Toronto with 15 goals and 55 points, and Tomas Kaberle led all Leaf defensemen in points.
Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs are getting impatient. Mats Sundin signed a one-year, $5.5 million contract in July but he is 36 years old and really doesn’t want to play anywhere else. General Manager John Ferguson is also in the last year of his contract. You can tell that the 2007-2008 season is a critical one for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The good news for Toronto is that Montreal doesn’t look improved and with the addition of Blake, the Leafs might be able to score enough goals to make the playoffs, especially if Toskala upgrades the situation in goal.