The Toronto Maple Leafs have neither been a disappointment or a surprise
this year. (The only surprise may be that they are still in contension
for a playoff berth with the talent they have.) Having said that, this
is a team that will not make the playoffs. Here's why.
1. Sundin factor.
You can't deny that Mats is one of the league's leading centres,
so much that it would be frightening what he would with any talent
alongside him. However, as April approches, he is obviously out of gas.
He has lost his zip since returning from the Olympics, and with a
nonexistant scoring depth behind him, that doesn't bode well for a
2. Youth factor
This is an inexperienced team, which is still getting its feet
wet. There are some talented rookies on this squad, but they are still a
couple of years away from helping a contender. While Jason Smith,
Yannick Trembley and Dannil Markov are impressing on defence, Mike
Johnson is starting to show fatigue from his first full season.
Ken Dryden and his croonies have yet to show that they can make
deals to make this team better. In fact, if Schneider/Potvin trade
rumors are true, then they may even set this team back a couple more
years. (Forget about the Convery deal, since Convery was a tool
anyways.) Dryden spent so much of the season worrying about the Leafs'
move into the Eastern Conference that he has forgotten that they are
going to get killed by their new neighbours.
As a die-hard Leaf fan, this is painful, but true. With that said, here
are my predictions for off-season moves.
- The team will make a pitch for Ted Nolan's services. Nothing against
Mike Murphy, but Nolan proved in Buffalo that his coaching skills work
well with a young team.
- Look for either Potvin or Schneider to be moved at the deadline. The
Leafs could benefit from any prospect they would acquire. If Potvin
moves, you could see Cujo come here.
- Look for free-agents to arrive. The excuse of low funds doesn't work
anymore, since Mr. Stavro used 500 million to buy the Raptors.
This is depressing. If anybody has anything positive to say about the
Leafs, please tell me.