If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan, you’re anxiously awaiting the upcoming 2021-22 regular season. As you look forward to the season, you certainly have to have a number of questions. I know I do. Here are the Lucky 13 of my own.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Rasmus Sandin Really Must Be Ready for Prime Time
Question One: The Playoffs
Can the Toronto Maple Leafs even make the playoffs this season? On paper, they are in a much harder division. How good are they in comparison?
Question Two: Zach Hyman
How much will Zach Hyman’s departure hurt the team? They won without him in the lineup last season. Can they do it again?
Question Three: Depth Players
How good are the players that Maple Leafs’ general manger Kyle Dubas brought in to provide depth to the Core Four? How well will these new players fit with the team?
Question Four: Michael Bunting
Specifically, is Michael Bunting the real deal? He’s only played a few games, but he’s looked good so far. Will he be as good as some hope – even better?
Question Five: Nick Robertson
Will Nick Robertson even have a chance to make the team? He’s still waiver exempt. Will the Maple Leafs’ management see him as needing more time to prepare with the AHL Toronto Marlies? Does he need that time? Does he move down simply because he can?
Question Six: Nick Ritchie
Will Nick Ritchie become a good reclamation project for the team? He’s big and strong and has a reputation of having a bit of a mean streak. Can he perform in the top-six? And, if he does, will it specifically be with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner? Can he add value to that line?
Question Seven: The Core Four
Can the Core Four continue to be a scoring force? Everyone expects this group to continue to score, but can they? Is it just a given that Marner, Matthews, John Tavares, and William Nylander will continue to put up big numbers? Is it possible that the group gets even better?
Question Eight: Auston Matthews
Can Auston Matthews get even better than he’s been? Will his wrist be completely healed? Can he get better on defense? Is he Selke material? Really how good can Matthews become? Will he rise to the top of the NHL to challenge Connor McDavid as the best player in the league?
Question Nine: The Maple Leafs’ Defense
Can the Maple Leafs’ defense stay as good as it was last season? Prior to last season, it was the weak spot on the team. T.J Brodie’s arrival answered a lot of questions correctly. Can he continue to solidify the group?
Question Ten: Rasmus Sandin
Speaking of the defense, can Rasmus Sandin come in and make the gains as a player that so many Maple Leafs’ fans and hockey pundits are predicting? How good can Sandin become – by next season?
Question Eleven: The Goalies
Can the goalie tandem of Jack Campbell and Peter Mrazek get the job done? With the twosome creating a 1A and a 1B scenario, does that new philosophy bode well for the regular season? And, given the play of Frederik Andersen in the playoffs, will it be better for the team to be more well-rested at the goalie position? Will one emerge as stronger than the other? If so, whom?
Question Twelve: Competition Within The Division
What will the Maple Leafs’ competition in their division be like – really? It looks like the Florida Panthers will be stronger – Joe Thornton thought so. But the Tampa Bay Lightning lost some key players. Can they hold it together? Was the Montreal Canadiens’ playoff success a one-hit wonder? How good will the Boston Bruins’ goalie play and defense be? Can the Ottawa Senators rise from the depths quickly enough to cause trouble this season, or is their time coming in the future? Are the Detroit Red Wings only a building team as everyone expects? And, what more could go wrong in Buffalo?
In short, everyone worries that the Maple Leafs have lost so much; but, really, how different are they than the other teams in their division?
Related: So, Just How Many Goalies Can the Maple Leafs Play in Net at One Time?
Question Thirteen: Battles for Jobs
Will all the competition the Maple Leafs brought in spur internal job battles? If so, will those battles push players to new limits? What will the atmosphere around the team be?
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September 1, 2021 at 8:45 am
All great questions except one. Even if Robertson was ready for a shot, the Leafs are not going to risk anyone else they have by putting them through waivers until they know what they’ve got. They won’t know that until several games into the season. On top of it, if the Leafs had half a thought of Robertsoin starting, they wouldn’t have brought so many others in. So, Robertson is not in the Leafs’ starting lineup or roster. To add to the defense question, it’s really about how much Bogosian’s skills, that are sadly lacking on the Leafs, added and, if much extent, have they been replaced. My answer to that is they added enough and no, it hasn’t been replaced. Sandin is not going to replace Bogosian skills.
September 1, 2021 at 2:59 pm
Q14: will Keefe show to be an NHL coach able to outwit his counterparts in the playoffs?
Q15: will Keefe not ride his horses so much such that fatigue sets in by the playoffs?
Q16: will the PP become a top 10 if not top five where it belongs?