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To me, there will be three serious contenders for the eighth playoff spot, not counting the Leafs.
The New Jersey Devils have Zach Parise back, this time sporting the "C." They've also got Martin Brodeur, who I would never underestimate, but who may be playing his last season before retirement.
The Carolina Hurricanes took a hit on their offense when they lost Erik Cole, but took a step forward on defense when they signed Tomas Kaberle. They've still got their All-Stars, including goalie Cam Ward.
The Montreal Canadiens signed Cole during the summer, but lost Wisniewski and Hamrlik to free agency and Markov to injury. However, they've still got Carey Price and a more experienced P.K. Subban. The Canadiens are a bit weaker this season in my opinion, but they're still a dangerous and annoying team to play against.
Looking at each of these three teams, you'll notice that they all have star power, especially in the goalie department.
The Leafs don't really have any Parises, Kovalchuks, Staals or Prices. We've got Kessel, Phaneuf and Reimer.
Do the Leafs stack up against these teams?
My gut tells me...I don't know.