With this “scorched earth” approach to rebuilding the Toronto Maple Leafs there is not much player history to draw on from the current team. With so many players in and out of the organization and now rookies about to invade the ACC roster it is fair to say that a new Leaf history is unfolding.
There are however a few players left over from the old regime and those that have been brought in via trade or free agent signing. With a new season about to dawn here is a look at part of the roster and what certain players can accomplish in 2016/2017.
The Leafs traded a late first round pick for the Danish puck stopper from the Anaheim Ducks this summer.
Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello must be pretty high on Anderson’s ability to stop the puck. Before training camp has even begun Anderson has been anointed the number one Leafs goalie. At this point there is no reason to think otherwise. There is no doubt that he has loads of potential.
Living up to his new 5 year $25M dollar contract in the center of the hockey universe is what Anderson needs to do. He played well during his entry level contract but on a pretty good Anaheim team. Now he is behind an unproven team and will have his challenges throughout the 82 game season.
This could be a stroke of genius by GM Lou locking up a potential elite player. Let’s hope this does not end up becoming a total flop that sets the club back a couple of years.
Speaking of potential, at 25 the time has arrived for Kadri to grab his career by the horns.
He is 19 goals shy of 100 for his career. However, his goal production has dropped since the 2013/2014 season. He is also 3 points shy of eclipsing 200 points for his career. Barring injury Kadri will at least reach this milestone. He has reached 20 goals just once.
The Leafs are young and Kadri wants to take on a leadership role. There are many skeptics out there as rumoured late nights, showing up late to team meetings and immature suspensions has hurt his reputation. He seemed to have things turned around last season but this is the year he needs to pull it all together.
Breaking 20 goals and attaining 60 points would be considered an excellent season for the enigmatic center.
It is unclear if Lupul will be on the opening night roster. There have been rumblings that the Leafs may employ the “pay not to play” tactic and send Lupul home for the remaining 2 years on his contract. This is after many sources said the Leafs have been trying to trade Lupul.
It sounds crazy for a team to take on 2 years at $5.25M per year but look how well the Phil Kessel trade worked out for Pittsburgh. If you are thinking that a team could take the contract to reach the cap floor you will have to think again. All thirty NHL teams are above the cap floor by at least $2M.
Lupul is not a part of the Leafs future beyond his current contract. What Lupul can do for himself is stay healthy, play 60+ games and put up a thirty points. Perhaps a trade then can be made come trade deadline day for a Cup contender. That’s very doubtful though.
It is not beyond the realm of possibility that Lupul has played his last NHL game. No milestones expected here.
James van Riemsdyk
Last season is a forgettable one for JvR after he played just 40 games due to a fractured foot. Hardly a word has been heard from him since then.
If his foot is healthy then the consistent point producer should have a good year. A reasonable expectation is to lead the team in points this season. Thirty goals is also reasonable as he has done that once back in 2013/2014.
Now is a good time to start playing for his next contract in 2 years. The rookies will soon be gobbling up precious ice time thus reducing JvR’s chances at his point production. Or he can find chemistry with top line players and put up near elite numbers.
Currently playing at the WHC’s for team North America, Rielly should come into training camp in mid-season game shape.
He is coming off his entry level contract and now playing for big money. Living up to it should not be a problem for the big and speedy defenceman.
Playing another full season and tallying 40 points will put him in some heady company if he isn’t already.
It is contract year for Toronto’s center, The former 1st round pick has collected 69 career points. Could this be his breakout year?
The math is simple. 31 points gets him to 100 career points and maybe a nice bridge deal like Kadri signed after his entry level contract.
27 points in 65 games last season . . . milestone of 31 this year is attainable.
There are other players we could talk about but really the bulk of the rest of the team is going to be very fresh NHLer’s with little to no experience. Simply making the team and keeping their head above water should be a good milestone for the coming season.
In less than one month the puck drops on a new hockey year and new aspirations will be answered. Some will not.
Discuss among yourselves.