Hopefully I’m wrong, but I think the Leafs will again be a pretty weak team. At least the Oilers look like they won’t finish last again. Hoping against hope that Burke, Wilson et al. will be intelligent and let Kadri develop in the AHL this year (as if his presence alone will turn them into a playoff team), here is what I think the Leafs should look like this year, as they try to avoid giving Boston another possible franchise player:
- Kulemin – Bozak – Kessel
- MacArthur – Gabrovski – Versteeg
- Caputi – Mitchell – Armstrong
- Sjostrom – Brent / Hanson – Orr (I hope not)
- Phaneuf – Kaberle
- Beauchemin – Schenn
- Gunnarsson – Komisarek
If Bozak plays like he did last year, he has got to be the #1 centre (even though he hardly is). Gabrovski is too selfish to play with Kessel. I like Kulemin up there to give him a chance to show if he really is a Top 6.
Gabrovski is clearly the next offensively talented centre (if Versteeg stays on the wing). I hope the combination of those three can put up points.
I don’t see Armstrong putting up any offense unless he plays with Kessel and the only reason to do that is to give Kessel space. I don’t know if Caputi can play this role well enough but I’d say Mitchell-Armstrong gives a decent checking line.
I hear Brent is playing well so he could easily steal Hanson’s job. Sjostrom better play otherwise that Phaneuf trade looks even worse. I hate Orr’s game but I don’t know who else they have.
Even though they both shoot Left I figure Kaberle / Phaneuf makes the most sense as the top pair; gives Phaneuf a chance to up his offense a little and hopefully Kaberle will protect him like he did McCabe.
Schenn hopefully protects Beauchemin and Gunnarsson Komisarek.
I think Guigere is the obvious starter.
I don’t see this group making the playoffs. My hope is they do barely, or barely miss (normally I don’t hope for this) if only to prevent the Bruins from getting another good pick. I’d say realistically I see this team as not being all that much better than last year. Let’s say 12th in the East. I hope they do better.