Matt Stajan: Is He the Answer for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Alan CampbellCorrespondent IJuly 14, 2008

The Toronto Maple Leafs could possibly miss the playoffs for the fourth season in a row next season.  The Leafs have acquired several different players in the offseason, and they have landed one of the leagues top defensive coaches, but, will this be enough to see the Toronto Maple Leafs end their current three year dread of not making the playoffs? 

Look at it this way.  If captain Mats Sundin returns to the Leafs, he will be surrounded by young and enthusiastic players all trying to show that they belong in the N.H.L.

But what happened to the Leafs trying to pick up some talented players up front to help Sundin with carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders?  The Leafs have indeed picked up a young and talented forward by the name of Niklas Hagman, but will this be enough, or will Jason Blake come into his own, and have an amazing season like the one he did prior to joining the Leafs in New York with the Islanders? 

It's pretty obvious that the Leafs are heading in a new direction and looking to start fresh, as opposed to being a team where players come to retire. They want to be a team with similar resemblances to the 2008 Stanley Cup finalists Pittsburgh Penguins. They want to be young, talented, and fresh.  But, with this new year in Maple Leafs hockey, who will help carry the Leafs? 

Matt Stajan has signed a contract extension that will see him with the Leafs for the next three years.  He had 16 goals and 17 helpers last year and it is apparent that the Leafs believe he could be the future of this struggling franchise.

With all the changes this offseason for the Leafs, seeing veteran leaders like Darcy Tucker and Chad Kilger, to name a few, leaving and joining respected teams, time will only tell whether or not Ron Wilson will be able to mold the Leafs into a contender and go for the most lucrative prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup.