Toronto Maple Leafs: Five Things We Can Expect for the 2010-11 Season

Mark RitterSenior Writer IAugust 18, 2010

Toronto Maple Leafs: Five Things We Can Expect For The 2010-11 Season

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    Phil KesselElsa/Getty Images

    With the 2010-11 NHL season just under eight weeks away, my thoughts turned to making a few guarantees for our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs.

    Many Leaf fans have a lot of questions for the upcoming 2010-11 season.

    Which player will lead the team in scoring?

    How will the Leafs special teams improve?

    Which goaltender will emerge as the teams go-to guy?

    Which player will we notice most for their heart?

    Which player will emerge as the Leafs biggest surprise?

    With all those questions in mind, Lets take a look at what we can expect from the Leafs for the 2010-11 season.

Which Player Will Lead the Team in Scoring

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    Phil Will explode in 2010-11.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    As long as Phil Kessel plays a full 82 games this season, there is little doubt that he will lead the Toronto Maple Leafs in scoring next season.

    Kessel netted 30 goals in 70 games in 2009-10 and, with the new additions to the lineup, has an outside chance to hit the 40-goal mark.

    Kessel will play upwards of 20 minutes per game in 2010-11, and will be given plenty of power play time where he should excel.

    Look for Kessel to explode onto the scene this season. At least he better...the Leafs are banking on it!

How will the Leafs special teams improve?

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    Armstrong Will Be A Terror In Front Of Opposing Goaltenders.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    The Toronto Maple Leafs finished the 2009-10 season with the 30th ranked power play. Clearly, given their struggles last season, improving the Leafs power play will be no easy feat.

    That said, there is hope. Kris Versteeg has the ability to play on the power play, and he possess a shot that could help him earn more than a few power play goals.

    Versteeg's compete level, energy, and poise with the puck will allow the Leafs to spread out opposing defense's that would normally double team Kessel.

    Another player that will help the Leafs' power play is Colby Armstrong, who, at 6'2", 195 pounds, should be able to use his size and strength to annoy opposing goaltenders. Armstrong can also chip in offensively, which, once again, should allow Kessel to get some much needed room.

    As far as the Leafs' penalty kill goes, look for the defensive duo of Phaneuf and Komisarek to punish opposing forwards on every PK, while Colby Armstrong should also add an element of grit to the league's worst penalty kill from 2009-10.

Which Goaltender Will Emerge As the Teams Go-to Guy?

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    Will "The Monster" Be #1???Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    While J.S. Giguere is the more accomplished goaltender, I will go out on a limb and suggest that Jonas "the monster" Gustavsson will emerge as the Leafs number one goalie.

    Giguere will be an unrestricted free agent next season, and while I will agree that player tend to play well in their contract year, I just feel like Gustavsson will be that much better than Giguere this season.

    Playing in his sophomore season, Gustavsson will need to impress if he wants to earn his playing time. With the monster's drive and determination, there is every indication that he will come to training camp with the eye of the tiger and the goal of upstaging the legend that is Giguere.

    Gustavsson will be the Leafs number one goalie.

Which player will we notice most for their heart?

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    This Captain Has "Heart".Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

    No question, as good as Colby Armstrong is at getting under the skin of opposing forwards and as tenacious as Kris Versteeg and Mike Komisarek are, nobody has the heart that Dion Phaneuf has.

    Known for his crushing body-checks and take-charge attitude, Phaneuf (was elected team captain over the summer) should emerge as the heart and soul of the Maple Leafs.

    On the ice, in the dressing room and in the heat of every bloody battle, Phaneuf will be there for his teammates, management and his head coach, no matter what.

Which Player Will Emerge As the Leafs Biggest Surprise?

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    Look For "Uzi" To Emerge As One Of The Leafs' Better D-Men.Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Picking the Leafs surprise player is a tough job. many Leaf fans already expect the likes of Nazem Kadri, Tyler Bozak, Kris Versteeg, Colby Armstrong, Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, and Tomas Kaberle to put up terrific numbers.

    The one guy people keep forgetting about is Carl "Uzi" Gunnarsson.

    Gunarsson, who stands 6'2" and weighs in at 190 pounds, showed a ton of promise last season, scoring three goals and 15 points in 43 games last season.

    If Gunarsson gets the ice time I think he will I suspect he will score upwards of 30 points and, given his success last year (emerged with a team leading plus eight rating) should emerge as one of the Leafs better defensemen.

    Gunarsson should also emerge as another physical threat for the Leafs, something he is not given enough credit for.

    "Uzi" will ooze confidence and play his way into a top two pairing...