The Toronto Maple Leafs have a plan going into the 2020-21 NHL and they intend to stick to it. There’s not a ton more in terms of headline news beyond what’s already been said when it comes to this version of the hockey club, but according to President Brendan Shanahan, the easy part was making the plan. Now, it’s time to go out and execute it.
The Vibe Is High, But There Are Questions
Unlike a number of NHL teams, the Maple Leafs have gotten through camp entirely healthy. There’s a lot in the way of positive vibes surrounding this team and most insiders have them finishing near or at the top of the North Division. That said, there are still uncertainties.
The club went from one of the youngest in the NHL to seemingly one of the oldest. They added veterans who are meant to bring in more leadership and experience but there are certainly questions about how those players will mesh with the core of the team and in prominent roles.
Shanahan said you “just keep going back to the well and you keep trying until you’re successful and you hope that leads to a big run. I look at several of the dynasties in several sports, they went through those same growing pains in the early going.” He didn’t want to say that the team was primed to be a dynasty, but that if they were going to be successful, they can’t steer away from their original plan, just adapt.
Maple Leafs Chose Not to Waive Aaron Dell
In an effort to keep their depth in goal, the Maple Leafs chose not to waive goaltender Aaron Dell for the purposes of putting him on the taxi squad. He’ll remain on the active roster and it appears that might have been a good plan considering what happened to the Edmonton Oilers and Anton Forsberg on Tuesday.
Like the Oilers who signed Forsberg early in free agency, the Maple Leafs added Dell specifically to give them a good third-string option. But, the Oilers waived Forsberg and the Carolina Hurricanes picked him up. The Leafs didn’t want to take any chances something similar could happen with their neminder.
With Andersen, Jack Campbell and Dell, the team believes they’ve got a strong trio that will offer a vast improvement over last season.
No Sense of Urgency on Andersen or Hyman
Darren Dreger of TSN confirmed in during the season preview for the Leafs that there’s no heightened sense of urgency for the Leafs to get a deal done during the season with goaltender Frederik Andersen. He says Andersen is a key piece for the Leafs but adds, “we also know the salary cap isn’t going up.” Dreger notes that a strong start for Andersen this season could encourage both sides to talk more about a deal.
As for Zach Hyman, he’s in a similar spot but he’s set to earn potentially a much bigger pay raise based on the season he might have. Coach Keefe is looking for that third line of Hyman, Alexander Kerfoot and Ilya Mikheyev to have a strong campaign and that could make negotiations for the Leafs more difficult when it comes to determining his value this offseason.
Maple Leafs Voted Tops in North Division in the Seravalli Survey
TSN’s Frank Seravalli anonymously polled 22 people across all walks of life in the NHL – including analysts, GMs, coaches, analytics and salary cap managers, and more to make certain predictions for the upcoming season. When asked to determine the rankings in the North Division, the Leafs came out on top.
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