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5 Reasons Maple Leafs Are a Better Team This Year Than Last

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost some good players. However, they also gained some better players. Why will they be better this season than last?

Although the offseason is far from over and there are more moves to be made, the Toronto Maple Leafs have undergone some significant changes. During the NHL’s free agency period, the team lost some players but they gained some others.

In this post, I’ll share why I believe the team has improved compared to the last season. Specifically, I’ll look at five key reasons why the new-look Maple Leafs are a stronger team heading into the 2023-24 regular season.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Domi, Elliott, Bertuzzi & Reaves

Reason One: The Maple Leafs’ Forward Group Is Stronger

First, no key players – none of the Core Four – have departed. Although 23-goal scoring winger Michael Bunting has gone, new Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving compensated by bringing in Tyler Bertuzzi. He’s a top-six forward with a greater goal-scoring potential than Bunting.

Tyler Bertuzzi gives the Maple Leafs added scoring.

Bertuzzi’s offensive power gives the Maple Leafs an edge in their wingers. In the whole, the team has actually increased its overall offensive potential compared with last season.

Reason Two: The Maple Leafs Have Improved Depth at Center

The team had a strong group of centers during the postseason. Although the team lost both Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from that playoff team, it has successfully filled in the gaps in the lineup. I, for one, am pleased the team re-signed center David Kampf to be the shutdown center of either the third-line or the fourth.

It will be interesting to see just how Matthew Knies plays. Some believe O’Reilly had more of an offensive upside, but I think the rookie Knies might be able to compensate. He sure covers the loss of Acciari, who was tough but didn’t score much. While the jury is out over the long haul of an 82-game season, Knies could become a Calder Trophy contender. If so, that elevates the team’s forward depth and contributing to a stronger center position.

Related: How Effective Will John Klingberg Be with the Maple Leafs?

Reason Three: The Maple Leafs Third Line Has Been Upgraded

I’m sorry to see forward Alex Kerfoot depart. However, I’m getting more and more excited by the signing of Max Domi. He’s both a stronger offensive player and a more physical player.

Max Domi Maple Leafs future
Max Domi is in the Maple Leafs future.

If Domi lands on the third line, he’s a huge upgrade on that forward line. He should easily surpass Kerfoot’s offensive contributions. He will for sure increase the team’s competitiveness.

Reason Four: The Maple Leafs Defense Is Improved

Although I don’t believe Justin Holl was nearly as bad as fans believed, the signing of John Klingberg could become a really strong move. He’s an offense-minded veteran defenseman who could run the first-unit power play and allow Morgan Rielly to move to the second-unit. Rielly is good five-on-five.

Although Klingberg also has some warts on the defensive part of his game, he significantly strengthens the team’s defensive unit as a whole. His presence improves the team’s offense considerably.

As well, I believe Conor Timmins is better than people think – again, especially on offense. I also believe the team will add a couple of low-cost bigger defensive-minded blue liners to the team’s overall mix. But I believe the team’s defense is better than most people think.

Reason Five: The Goaltending Will Be Better

While it’s too bad that Matt Murray could not reprise his stellar play with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he didn’t. He was simply injured too much to help. When the team re-signs Ilya Samsonov – who I believe has already agreed upon an extension – he’ll be the team’s number one goalie. He’s good.

Ilya Samsonov, Maple Leafs

Joseph Woll was solid last season and should be a good backup for the team. That goalie twosome provides a stronger presence between the pipes compared to what the Maple Leafs have had over the past few seasons. I think that Samsonov and Woll, together, will offer the team stability in the crease.

The Bottom Line

Overall, I believe the Maple Leafs have made big improvements to their roster. Unless William Nylander is traded, which sadly is a possibility, the entire set of forward lines is must stronger and provides secondary scoring.

The team’s defense is just as good or better. And, the goalies will give the team stability and enhanced depth in net.

With all these upgrades, the Maple Leafs should be able to compete for the top spot in the Atlantic Division. Even more important, they should be able to make a deeper postseason run in 2024.

Related: Dobber Hockey Names Samsonov Top 3 Goalie for the Money

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. gfinale

    July 13, 2023 at 2:42 am

    1. Treliving is obviously 10x more knowledgeable and experienced than Dubas.
    2. Dubas is gone.
    Then the ones in this article.

  2. Joe

    July 13, 2023 at 6:55 am

    We have better wing depth for sure! with more toughness and scoring but our depth at center and D is an issue. Knies is a power forward, not a center and Domi better suited as top 9 winger that can fill center position in a pinch. A shutdown big Dman and a Kadri type 3rd line center would be nice but how do you add with the cap or subtract players for cap space?

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  4. Pingback: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Reaves, Domi, Bertuzzi, & Samsonov

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