After a summer of trades, free-agent signings and other tweaks, there is much optimism among Leafs fans going into the start of the 2009-10 season.
So let’s introduce the new Toronto Maple Leafs.
Jonas Gustavsson, 6-3, 192 pounds
Gustavsson was signed away from the Swedish Elite League and will push Vesa Toskala for the starting job in net. He will also try to emulate his stats from 2008-09: a goals-against average of 1.96 and save percentage of .932 in 42 starts.
Vesa Toskala, 5-10, 195 pounds
Toskala is coming off a disappointing season where he compiled a 22-17-11 record with a .891 save percentage and only one shutout. There’s already speculation that Toskala could be the Leafs back-up goalie by mid-season.
Jason Blake, 5-10, 180 pounds
Blake led the blue and white with 25 goals in 2008-09 and will be relied upon to match and improve his output this season. Blake was once a 40-goal scorer, but that was back in 2006-07 with the New York Islanders.
Mikhail Grabovski, 5-11, 179 pounds
Grabovski was one of four 20-goal scorers last year and also added 28 assists. He needs to work on being a two-way player after a minus-eight rating. The Belarusian will play on a line with fellow Europeans Niklas Hagman and Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Niklas Hagman, 6-0, 205 pounds
Hagman also passed the 20-goal mark, scoring 22 – six of them coming on the power play. Three of his tallies were game-winners and he will be counted on to add secondary scoring.
Phil Kessel, 6-0, 180 pounds
The newest Leaf will be depended on to lead the team offensively. The former first-round pick had a breakout season last year with 36 goals, 24 assists and 60 points for Boston. He will miss the first month as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Jamal Mayers, 6-1, 214 pounds
The Leafs incumbent scrapper will start the campaign on the disabled list. He accumulated 82 penalty minutes, while also adding seven goals and nine assists in a fourth-line role.
John Mitchell, 6-1, 182 pounds
Mitchell will start the season on the Leafs third line, but he can be plugged into other situations if needed. He scored 29 points, including two goals on the power play. A major fault, though, was his team-low minus-16 stat.
Colton Orr, 6-3, 222 pounds
Orr is in the Leafs lineup to do one thing: intimidate the opposition. Last season Orr ranked third in the NHL for penalty minutes with 193 with the Rangers. Don’t look for Orr to be a defensive gem as the rugged winger is minus-30 over his career.
Alexei Ponikarovsky, 6-4, 220 pounds
One of only two Leafs to play in all 82 games last year. In those contests, Ponikarovsky scored 23 goals and added 38 assists. He also had the second most shots on the team with 185, only eclipsed by Blake’s 302 attempts.
Wayne Primeau, 6-4, 225 pounds
Primeau is one of many off-season acquisitions brought in to add some sandpaper to the Leafs roster. He won’t play every night and even when he’s in the lineup, he’ll play limited minutes on the fourth line, but his veteran leadership should help.
Jay Rosehill, 6-3, 195 pounds
Rosehill is a minor-league journeyman, yet to play an NHL game. Although he may bounce between the AHL and the NHL, he’ll add a level of feistiness to whichever roster he plays on. He recorded 275 penalty minutes in the minors last season.
Matt Stajan, 6-1, 200 pounds
Stajan enjoyed his best NHL year in 2008-09, scoring 55 points. He will start the season on the team’s top line with Blake and Viktor Stalberg, but will be in a precarious position depending on how his teammates perform in the early going.
Viktor Stalberg, 6-3, 210 pounds
Playing college hockey last year, Stalberg had 46 points in 39 games and was named to the first all-star team. He is the only rookie to make the club’s opening night roster and will start the season on the top line.
Lee Stempniak, 6-0, 195 pounds
Stempniak was traded to the Leafs last season and failed to impress. In 14 games with St. Louis he had 13 points, but after being traded only had 31 points in 61 contests. This had pushed him down the depth chart to a third-line checker.
Rickard Wallin, 6-2, 185 pounds
Wallin, who hasn’t played in the NHL since 2003-04, joins Stempniak and Mitchell on the energy line. In 19 career NHL games, he has six goals, four assists and 14 penalty minutes.
Francois Beauchemin, 6-0, 207 pounds
Beauchemin comes over from Anaheim, where he won a Stanley Cup in 2007. He only dressed for 20 games last year before a torn ACL sidelined him until the playoffs. He will join Tomas Kaberle as the Leafs one-two punch on the power play.
Garnet Exelby, 6-1, 215 pounds
Simply put, Exelby makes the Leafs tougher to play against. He’s never been known for his offensive numbers, but he’s a hard-hitting, play-at-home defenceman who will drop his gloves with willing participants. He had 120 penalty minutes last year.
Jeff Finger, 6-1, 205 pounds
The Leafs big signing last off-season was minus-seven after two years with plus numbers in Colorado. Finger was criticized for his poor numbers after signing a four-year, $14 million US deal and will have to perform better to silence his critics.
Tomas Kaberle, 6-1, 198 pounds
Kaberle will be depended on to quarterback the Leafs power play and help get the team out of their own zone. Kaberle struggled through an injury-plagued 2008-09 campaign scoring 31 points, while being minus-eight.
Mike Komisarek, 6-4, 243 pounds
One of GM Brian Burke’s premier signings, Komisarek is a shutdown defenceman, who adds grit and size to the Leafs blue-line. He left the rival Montreal Canadiens for Toronto, where he registered 121 penalty minutes in last season.
Luke Schenn, 6-2, 216 pounds
Schenn solidifies the backend. Last season, as an 18-year-old rookie, he played 70 games, recording 14 points and 71 penalty minutes. Schenn will be looking to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx and build on his freshmen numbers.
Mike Van Ryn, 6-1, 213 pounds
Over the last two seasons, Van Ryn has only managed to get into 47 games because of injuries. In fact he will start this year on injured reserve as well. When healthy, he can contribute with three goals and eight assists in 27 appearances in 2008-09.
Ian White, 5-10, 185 pounds
White can be an offensive threat for the Leafs, while also not being a defensive liability. He scored 10 goals and added 16 assists last year and also maintained a plus-six rating.