The wait is finally over. The Toronto Maple Leafs organisation decided to extend head coach Randy Carlyle’s contract through the 2016-2017 season last week, The Toronto Star reports.
However, Carlyle’s assistants - Dave Farrish, Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin - have all been let go. A key point for any disgruntled Leaf fan to take away from this decision is that it’s not written in stone. If Carlyle has another disastrous season, the organisation can sack him and move on.
I believe the Toronto Maple Leafs made the right call in giving Carlyle another chance. Obviously he has to take some of the blame for that monumental collapse in the last half of the season, but his team did endure some pretty nasty injuries down the stretch that he did his best to work around.
I believe Carlyle will continue to help Toronto improve as the Leafs still require more depth to their roster. The team has a solid base of forwards in Phil Kessel, James Van Riemsdyk, Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak. Plus, if David Clarkson, Nazem Kadri and Mason Raymond continue improving, the Leafs will be in good shape offensively.
I strongly believe that most of Toronto’s problems are on the defensive end. Dion Phaneuf was far too inconsistent and sloppy throughout the year and he better be ready to prove his worth next season, because the Leafs have spent a lot of money to keep him.
Carl Gunnarsson had an average season at best and the Tim Gleason trade clearly didn’t pay off for Toronto at all. Gleason ended the season with just five points to his name.
Gleason, Gunnarsson and Ranger would be at the top of my trade list if I were in charge. In regards to trading forwards, I would trade Nikolai Kulemin and Jay McClement.
Despite all the disappointments of this season, there are many positive things to take. Kessel had another amazing year tallying 80 points and JVR accumulated an impressive 61 points.
Peter Holland and Morgan Reilly combined for 37 points on the year as well. This is a roster filled with a lot of young players with potential and now that Carlyle has a new contract, he can continue building on those positives.
He knows what lines work well now and will guide this team to success. The only question now is, will James Reimer stay with Toronto or will he chose to leave or be traded?
More importantly, will Jonathan Bernier return from injury and win games consistently for Toronto?
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