Friday, September 22, 2017

Toronto Maple Leafs 2017-18 season preview

              Led by a trio of rookies in Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, the Toronto Maple Leafs made the playoffs for the first time since the lockout season with 95 points. But, they lost in the first round to the Washington Capitals. To mentor the youngsters, the Leafs brought in Patrick Marleau. Here's a full look at their offseason.

             Notable additions: LW Patrick Marleau, C Dominic Moore, D Ron Hainsey, F Chris Mueller.

             Notable subtractions: D Matt Hunwick, C Brian Boyle.

                               Forwards
Here are my projected forward lines.

Patrick Marleau - Auston Matthews - William Nylander
James van Riemsdyk - Tyler Bozak - Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman - Nazem Kadri - Connor Brown
Leo Komarov - Dominic Moore - Matt Martin

Marleau can really produce with Matthews and Nylander, and vice-versa. If the second line can produce like it did last year, they'll be the Leafs' recipe for success again. Hyman moves down with Marleau on the team, and can play with Kadri and Brown. That's a great line. Since he's been struggling in the preseason, Moore could be a scratch, and Komarov could center, letting Josh Leivo be the 4th line left-winger. Nikita Soshnikov, Eric Fehr, Frederik Gauthier, Kaspari Kapanen, Ben Smith and Colin Greening are in the running for a spot.

                               Defensemen
Here are my projected defensive pairs.

Morgan Reilly - Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner - Connor Carrick
Ron Hainsey - Martin Marincin
Reilly and Zaitsev is a very good top line. Gardiner is an underrated defenseman. Marinicin is a below average NHL defenseman, so youngsters Travis Dermott, Andrew Nielson and Andreas Borgman could beat him out, and have Marincin as the 7th d-man.

                            Goalies
 Freddy Andersen
 Curtis McElhinney
In his second year in Toronto and as a full-time starter, Andersen is looking for a good season. In his first full-season in Toronto, McElhinney will be the backup. AHL starter Garrett Sparks is the third goalie.

                            Prediction
As long as Matthews, Nylander and Marner can avoid the dreaded sophomore slump, the Leafs will be good. I think they will once again make the playoffs.

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