NHL Four-cast: Toronto Maple Leafs

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NHL Four-cast: Toronto Maple Leafs
1 - Why is this team worth watching? Are they? Um, let's see ... why to watch the Maple Leafs ... hmmm ... You can see the downfall of a once proud Original Six team as they try to break a 41 season Cup-less streak. Or catch the seminar on why teams shouldn't be owned by companies (not that solo owners are unimpeachable, but at least then there is a face to the franchise). Tune in to see what a $3.5 million third pairing defenseman looks like. And keep your eyes peeled for one of Borat's rare displays of talent.

2 - Are they better or worse than last year? Amazingly, yes, yes they are worse. As bad as they were last season, they fell even deeper when Mats Sundin just couldn't find the passion to return to see the new scoreboard at the ACC. While some may say they added by subtraction by sending Bryan McCabe packing, it really wasn't his fault ... except when it really was. Mike Van Ryn will have to bounce back from wrist surgery to make the deal worthwhile because McCabe logged a ton of minutes. And, having watched plenty of Toronto games with unbiased eyes, Raycroft wasn't as bad as his numbers showed. There is a certain upgrade with Cujo in his place, but you just can't bail out the Titanic with a bucket.

3 - Who should YOU draft in fantasy? Is this question really worthwhile for these guys? Personally, I wouldn't bother with anyone. Borat and Alexei Ponikarovsky could get 60 points each, but there is no Sundin to get them the puck and draw the defense away so who knows. Their numbers will hinge on the progress of Mikhail Grabovski, who has serious skills but has only played 27 NHL games to date. The Leafs don't have an outright goon, but Ryan Hollweg should be good for over 100 PIM. If you draft a superstar goaltender early, you probably can pick up Vesa Toskala for your backup with a late round pick. Your star will help keep your team's GAA and save % reasonable while Toskala adds 30 wins - no matter how bad they look on paper (and sound in the Toronto media), the Leafs can't possibly lose every game. Can they??

4 - Can John Tavares save this franchise? It will be tough but it is possible. Even though critics say Tavares may not be the best person in his draft anymore, the Leafs will still go after him to try to satisfy the rabid fanbase. The thing is that the kid will have the weight of the world on his shoulders when he pulls on the blue and white, and he will have little help as he struggles to handle it. Gretzky didn't do it alone in Edmonton and Crosby has Malkin in Pittsburgh. Instead of drafting what could have been Tavares' Jari Kurri in Nikita Filatov last year, the Leafs chose Luke Schenn - a defensive defenseman, yawn. The only hope for Tavares is if Marian Gaborik is available and willing to play in Toronto when next July 1st comes around ... something I wouldn't bet on happening.
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