4 Big Questions for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020-21

Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

These are the Four Big Questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020-21.

It is finally here! The 2020-21 NHL Season starts tonight and we are nearly at the end of our Season Previews, with the Toronto Maple Leafs our focus today.

It was another year of disappointment for the Maple Leafs who flamed out in the Best-of-Five Play-In Series to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2019-20 Stanley Cup Playoffs, despite boasting enough firepower to take down a small fleet of battleships.

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However, the postseason is like Kryptonite to this Toronto team and frustrations are running high at their lack of failure to get the most out of a talent-laden core that is certainly being paid well.

Well, the rubber kind of met the road this offseason when General Manager Kyle Dubas finally did what Maple Leafs fans have been screaming at him to do for quite some time – add some grit, toughness and experience to this team.

He acquired gritty forward Wayne Simmonds and veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie in the offseason, before going one step further by adding Joe Thornton to the mix.

With Stanley Cup winner Zach Bogosian also on board, the Maple Leafs should be much tougher to play against in the North Division, and the front office will hope that their elite talent does the rest and carries them all the way.

So. on that note, let’s take a look at the 4 Big Questions facing the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2020-21 NHL Season…

Joe Thornton (19)
Joe Thornton #19 of the San Jose Sharks. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

4. Can Joe Thornton really be a top-six forward?

There is going to be plenty weird about the 2020-21 NHL Season, including seeing Joe Thornton in a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey.

Despite seeing plenty of pictures on social media of Thornton at Training Camp, it still doesn’t feel right somehow, although we are all going to have to get used to it.

And are we also going to get used to Thornton being a dominant top-six forward again?

There was plenty of intrigue last week when Thornton was put on a line with elite talents Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, an experiment that has yielded positive results so far and could actually be used against the Montreal Canadiens on Opening Night later.

It could actually be a smart move given Thornton’s playmaking abilities, he does lead all active NHL players in assists with 1,089 after all, and his experience and willingness to still compete and win should only rub off on Matthews and Marner.

Plus, Thornton has proven that he is still capable of playing big minutes and he’s reliable in the faceoff circle, while he can also crash the net, get to the dirty levels and just compete, intangibles that have been missing from this Toronto Maple Leafs team.

So, while it wasn’t a move many were expecting, it is feasible to think that Joe Thornton could be a perfect fit with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner and that line could well be a secret weapon for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2020-21.