Toronto Sports Report: Leafs Season Preview

Matt ClarfieldContributor INovember 7, 2009

WOODRIDGE, IL - AUGUST 19:  General Manager Brian Burke poses for a portrait during the USA Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp on August 19, 2009 at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Illinois.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Brian Burke's aim was to get bigger, meaner and better in goal, and its hard to argue he didn't accomplish all three over the off-season. And he even found a way to add a 36-goal scorer (even though he's injured ).

Coming in are three big blueliners in Francois Beauchemin, Mike Komisarek and Garnet Exelby, enforcer Colton Orr and netminder Jonas Gustavsson. 

The Leafs biggest woes last season came in goal and on the blueline, and if either Vesa Toskala can have a rebound campaign or Gustavsson can surprise in his first season, that'll make a world of difference in their record this season.

Komisarek and Beauchemin, meanwhile, should also help improve what was a league worst penalty kill in 2008-09, something thats sure to be a target for coach Ron Wilson in the early going.

As for where the offence will come from, expect the likes of Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Stajan and Niklas Hagman to play plenty of minutes.

It's not out of the question that Toronto has eight players to score 20 goals this season, as while there's not a ton of high-end offence, there's quietly some depth emerging. (Viktor Stalberg, anyone?)

All the changes probably don't add up to a playoff appearance quite yet, but the bottom end of the Eastern Conference is fairly wide open and a climb up the standings isn't impossible. If nothing else, the Leafs should be far better in the goals against department, and that alone will keep them in the race longer than they were last season.