With the pressure off of the Toronto Maple Leafs they are not expected to make the playoffs. So what are some realistic goals for the Leafs to achieve?
The Leafs brought in two scrappy forwards in former St. Louis Blue Jamal Mayers and Ryan Hollweg, who played last season with the Rangers.
These two guys add much needed grit to the Buds. If they aren't going to be winning games, a goal of theirs should be to make other teams afraid to play at the ACC.
They need to pound the opposition to show they aren't just going to hand over the two points. They might not be the best team, but they should become one of the most feared.
Another plan is to take a good look at the Marlies' players. They should leave one forward spot open on their roster and call up a new AHL player every month. They should tell that player he is on the roster for a month, good or bad, and really see what he can do. This way they could take a look at at least six Marlies they may not have seen otherwise.
Thirdly, A top two selection in the 2009 draft is a must. The two big names are John Taveras and Victor Hedman. This goal is very important if the Maple Leafs really want to challenge for a cup in a few years.
I am not saying the Leafs should tank. I'm saying if the last few weeks of the season sees them challenging for last place they should give their third and fourth line guys more ice time and give Pogge a few games between the pipes.
Nik Antropov needs to fully develop into the player he was projected to be. So this season ride him like he's Mats Sundin and I believe he will perform as an elite power forward in the NHL.
He should put up around 60 points. That will be hard to do on a rebuilding squad, but he is capable. Nik was made better by Mats Sundin around him and he should now make the players around him better.
Lastly, the Leafs' final goal should be to find their leader of the future. This may be hard to do if their potential leader is someone they draft in 2009. Nonetheless, they should interview, examine, and pick apart every young potential leader on their team. Especially Matt Stajan, Alex Steen, Anton Stralman, and Nik Antropov.
With Sundin likely gone, the Leafs need to move on and find their leader in this new era of Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey.