The Toronto Maple Leafs were never a great team after their golden decade in the 60s.
Ever since then, they have failed to win a Stanley Cup. In fact, they have failed to make it to the playoffs in nine of their past 10 seasons.
In the past few seasons, the management were forced to explain why the team failed to make the post season and their response was to 'wait for next season' or 'we don't have the right players yet but we'll get better' or something along those lines.
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But the Leafs seem to get worse and worse each year. A few years ago, they were at least near the qualifying position, but last season, they finished 26th out of 30 teams. The Leafs fans must be sick of hearing these lines.
Just when you thought things cannot get worse for the Leafs, it did. Instead of getting the top two picks for Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, they got fourth and ended up with Mitch Marner, who isn't bad, but isn't a franchise player like McDavid.
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In fact, Marner doesn't even play for the Leafs while McDavid and Eichel are shining in their respective teams.
Next, the Leafs traded away their only source of offensive production, Phil Kessel during the summer.
Although Kessel did free up some cap space, and his trade brought in a wave of prospects, almost none of these prospects have the potential to score like Kessel.
None of these propects play a pivotal role like Kessel did in Toronto. Instead of tackling the existing problems and signing new players to plug the holes in the team, the Leafs only managed to create a bigger problem.
In the past, the Leafs struggled to defend and produce, but now, the Leafs can barely score and their defensive problems did not get better at all.
Some may argue that Kessel did free up lots of cap space, but why trade Kessel when you can trade Phaneuf, a money gobbling pylon of a defense man that barely does anything on the blue line?
Trading away a star scorer is not wise for the Leafs, but trading away a star scorer when you could have traded the weak link of the defense is absolutely absurd.
The Leafs used to have a threatening first line of van Riemsdyk-Bozak-Kessel, but now, the Leafs are stuck using van Riemsdyk, Kadri or Bozak and Lupul or Boyes. The only real threat now is van Riemsdyk, but his production will be hindered without his usual linemate Phil Kessel dishing him the pucks and creating opportunities.
Kadri is still immature and selfish, and Lupul and Boyes are not proven first line attackers. The duo of Bozak and van Riemsdyk might make a decent second line but are incompetent in comparison to the first line of most other NHL teams.
The defense and goal tending for the Leafs were always horrible and they still are. Dion Phaneuf is still a big pylon, while Morgan Reilly showed glimpses of greatness. The rest of the defense are either young or incompetent playing in such a tough league like the NHL.
Last year, the Leafs managed to lose 53 games out of 82, and were minus 51 goals overall. Reimer and Bernier are both struggling in net, and that is never a good sign. Bernier ended last year with a 2.87 GAA and a .912 save percentage.
Those stats are decent, but could be much better for a starting goalie. But instead of signing new defense men, or goalies to fill up their defensive voids, they traded away Phil Kessel and brought in virtually nothing.
The Leafs will kick off their season against their bitter rivals on October 7th. Only time will tell if the trade involving Kessel was worth it.
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