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Put Up or Shut Up Time for Maple Leafs With 2020-21 Season Officially On

With the 2020-21 NHL season officially starting January 13th, it’s also officially time to see if the Maple Leafs strategy to win pays off.

Kyle Dubas Maple Leafs 2

With the NHL and NHLPA officially coming to terms on a new agreement to start a 56-game regular season on Sunday, there are a lot of questions for NHL teams that need to be answered in the next two weeks. Among the teams with a lot riding on those decisions is the Toronto Maple Leafs who have to hope their new team philosophy pays off.

Related: NHL Makes it Official: The 2020-21 NHL Season is a Go

Jeremy Rutherford posted an article on The Athletic immediately following the NHL’s announcement that the NHL and NHLPA vote was in favor of moving forward with the season. While there are still question about where Toronto and other Canadian teams will be playing most of their games, in Toronto’s case, Rutherford identified the Leafs new team strategy as the really big question that will need to be answered. In other words, will management’s dramatic overhaul will pay off?

What the Leafs Did in the Offseason

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved away from being exclusively a younger team that was trying to out-skill their opponent to a team that still has a ton of high-end and expensive skill, but also added experience and the intangibles the organization believed was missing in seasons past. Among the names added were Joe Thornton and other aging veterans at multiple positions.

GM Kyle Dubas added competitiveness and grit in signing Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian. It’s tough to know if either will be big producers on offense or even play a lot of minutes, but the expectation is that both will bring an end to any thought that the Maple Leafs could be pushed around and out-heavied.

The team also added T.J. Brodie on defense, letting Cody Ceci and Tyson Barrie walk away in free agency. Can Brodie find chemistry with Morgan Rielly and be a key pair for the Leafs moving forward? If not, can players like KHL defenseman of the year Mikko Lehtonen and hopefuls like Travis Dermott play a pivotal role?

What about in goal where the Leafs didn’t really make any changes? Yes, Jack Campbell is relatively new considering he joined the team last year later into the season. He’s also a much better backup than the Leafs had at their disposal last year. Still, Frederik Andersen is the starter and the hope is he can deliver more of a consistent season and get over his past playoff stumbles.

Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas Toronto Maple Leafs

If not, how long before the Leafs really start to grow concerned? We discussed earlier this week that there is some speculation he’s got about 30 games to prove he’s the guy. What happens if he struggles or that new defense is a letdown in front of him?

It’s Put Up or Shut Up Time

The Maple Leafs need this season to go well. While it will be an odd one, it doesn’t change the fact that if things go south, there could be a number of changes. From management and coaching to player moves, 56-games plus however many the Leafs might additionally get if they make the postseason are crucial.

Did Dubas take the right approach this offseason? We’re about to find out as the Leafs are settled into their strategy now. While there could be a couple of last-minute additions or moves he can make, especially considering the taxi squad rules, the club is ready to approach the season with a strategy they identified a couple of months ago. We’ll see if it works.

If it doesn’t, no amount of talking will save the inevitable changes that will be around the corner.

Next: Insider Tells Corey Perry “Go Home” to Toronto Maple Leafs

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