- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
LAST SEASON 34-35-13 (12th in East)
KEY ADDITIONS D François Beauchemin, G Jonas Gustavsson, RW Phil Kessel, D Mike Komisarek, RW Colton Orr, C Wayne Primeau
KEY LOSSES D Pavel Kubina, D Anton Stralman
Brian Burke is a G.M. who gets as much out of his players as he does out of his thesaurus. The man who introduced truculence into the NHL lexicon likes dukes-up teams built around skill and intimidation, and he's implementing a plan that should nudge Toronto down the path to playoff contention. After the Leafs allowed the most goals in the league last season, Burke revamped the defense and imported goalie Jonas Gustavsson, a.k.a. the Monster, from Sweden. He will push Vesa Toskala, who ranked 45th among 47 NHL goalies. "[Gustavsson's] going to play a lot of games, and we're going to give him room to grow," coach Ron Wilson says of the 6'3" butterflyer.
Acquiring former Bruins sniper Phil Kessel (set to return from shoulder surgery next month) provides needed help for an offense dependent on still-developing youngsters such as center Mikhail Grabovski (above).
Burke says that Toronto can end a four-year playoff drought, but he may be speaking precipitately. The G.M. knows the meaning of that word too.
LAST SEASON 36-35-11 (11th in East)
KEY ADDITIONS RW Jonathan Cheechoo, RW Alex Kovalev, G Pascal Leclaire, LW Milan Michalek