Toronto Maple Leafs: Ten Reasons Why They're Back On Track

Mark MakuchCorrespondent IOctober 24, 2008

10. Deadwood cleared: Vets Bell and Devereaux were sent the minors while the big club kept the likes of John Mitchell. This would not have happened last year. Mitchell has looked strong and deserving of a solid shot at the bigs.

9. Grabovki's defense: The leading scorer in the pre-season has yet to get a point, but he's not in the doghouse because he's skating hard, going to the net, getting chances, and saving some goals with excellent back checking. Defense was not on the list of his attributes - time for an update.

8. Kulemin: So far, Kulemin is showing that he's not overrated as some feared. Given time he will get even better.

7. Mike Van Ryn: Quietly has put up 4 points in 6 games and is a +4. Could be a nice surprise this year.

6. Wilson's no nonsense: When was the last time a Leaf player was demoted to the fourth line or the press box for not going hard to the net or playing well defensively? What a breath of fresh air.  Nothing (Blake's $5M contract included) is sacred.

5. Nik Hagman: Does this guy look like a steal or what? He has great speed, great skill, and is a fierce competitor.

4. Toskala: He needs to improve in the shootout but otherwise our best act between the pipes since Belfour.

3. Nik Antropov: So far he is looking like he's picking up where he left off last year. Great to see.

2. Team speed: This team is simply way faster than last years group. Even Antropov looks fast out there. Speed wins in today's NHL and you can't teach it.

1. Luke Schenn: Schenn has been absolutely awesome. I really don't think you need to send this kid down to junior. With expectations set so low for this team, no one's putting the pressure on him to carry the team, not that he won't in a year or two.