The Biggest Questions for the Remainder of Toronto Maple Leafs' 2014 Offseason
If Toronto Maple Leafs fans were looking for change in the 2014 offseason, they should not be disappointed. While most of the key players will return, there could be as many as seven or eight new faces on the opening-night roster.
The Leafs' top forward line is likely to remain intact, but after that, questions abound. While the top six seems to be set, the Leafs' seventh defender, remains a question mark.
Let's take a look at the biggest questions for the rest of the Leafs' 2014 offseason.
Will Jonathan Bernier Remain as the Leafs Starter in 2014-15?
With Jonathan Bernier having a great debut season with the Leafs in 2013-14, it seemed clear that he would be the Leafs' No. 1 goaltender in 2014-15.
With James Reimer now re-signed and his comments to Sportsnet 590 The Fan (h/t Sean Fitz-Gerald in the National Post) that he is expecting an opportunity to battle for the No. 1 position, nothing seems set in stone.
Reimer's issues with head coach Randy Carlyle are well-known to Leafs fans, and there is nothing to indicate that much has changed in that relationship since the end of last season.
Unless Bernier isn't ready to go as the season begins due to injury, he should be the first choice in goal.
Is David Clarkson a Top-Six Forward?
David Clarkson had a rotten 2013-14 campaign. He never matched his strong two-play that he displayed so often with the New Jersey Devils.
He was never going to develop into a 30-goal scorer with the Leafs, but five goals, 11 points and a 4.9 percent shooting percentage were simply not good enough last year.
In adding Leo Komarov, Matt Frattin, David Booth and Daniel Winnik, Clarkson may not be able to crack the Leafs' top-six forward group.
This is not necessarily a bad thing for the Leafs, as Clarkson could be one of the better third-line players in the Eastern Conference if he can regain his form from previous seasons.
Who Will Emerge as the Leafs' Seventh Defender?
The Leafs are set on the blue line with Jake Gardiner now signed to a new five-year deal. With trades and buyouts, the Leafs don't have a set seventh defender.
Petter Granberg could be at the front of the line, as several other candidates are considerably younger and less experienced. Grannberg is by no means old, but Stuart Percy and Matt Finn would likely be better served by getting big minutes outside the NHL.
It should prove to be an interesting training camp with this talented group of youngsters pushing to join the big club in the next season or two.
It wouldn't be shocking to see the Leafs turn outside the organization for a proven veteran who won't necessarily dress every night.
Could William Nylander Crash the Party?
William Nylander is a talented winger with top-six skill. The young, skilled Swede was very impressive at the Leafs' prospect camp in July, per nhl.com's Joe Yerdon.
Nylander played with Modo for part of last season and competed against men. He had seven points in 22 games against some tough competition as a 17-year-old.
He's not a physically intimidating player, but he will have defender's knees quaking with his ability to play the game with skill at a high speed.
The Leafs will not want to rush Nylander, but if he gets stronger over the offseason, it won't be a shock to see him starting the year in Toronto.