Welcome Toronto Maple Leafs' fans and fellow members of Leafs Nation to this week's edition of Bleeding Blue and White.
This time last summer, Leafs Nation was discussing a possible trade with the Boston Bruins for their No. 1 sniper, Phil Kessel. While many journalists and fans feel the need to analyze the potential loss for the Toronto Maple Leafs, I am declaring victory for Brian Burke.
As of right now, the Toronto Maple Leafs have won this trade. Could they lose it in the future? Of course. However, since I do not possess the ability to see into the future, and since Tyler Seguin and Jared Knight have yet to play two seconds of pro hockey, let's all agree to analyze this further in the future.
In August of last year, Leafs Nation was excited for the season to begin. The recent acquisitions of Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek provided a strong presence on the back end. Veteran Vesa Toskala was expected to help mentor Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson. The only problem was with the Leafs' forwards.
The Leafs entered the season with a top-six of Matt Stajan, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Mikhail Grabovski, Jason Blake, Niklas Hagman, and an injured Phil Kessel. The question on everyone's minds was, how will the Leafs score goals?
Funny thing was the Leafs problem wasn't scoring; it was keeping other teams from scoring.
This year, the focus is on the Leafs alleged surplus of defenseman, the lack of scoring depth, and lack of top-six forwards. What many critics seem to forget is that the Toronto Maple Leafs' biggest problem has always come from getting scored on.
By bringing in veteran netminder Jean-Sebatien Giguere and re-signing Gustavsson, the Leafs have much better goaltending.
With the additions of Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarson, and Brett Lebda the Leafs have significantly upgraded their defense from the beginning of last year.
The question remains: Do the Leafs have enough firepower up front?
The answer: Yes!
Tyler Bozak should be able to match Stajan. Kessel is shooting for 40 goals this year. Colby Armstrong could replace the goals from Ponikarovsky. Kris Versteeg will score at least 20 goals. Kulemin should be shooting for 20 goals, while Grabovski will also be attempting to reach that plateau again. This isn't even considering the potential impact of rookies Nazem Kadri and Jerry D'Amigo.
Stronger goalies + stronger blueline + roughly equal forwards = a better season for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After all, doesn't defense win championships?