3. Will the new additions make a difference?
Much was made of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ activities in the offseason, with General Manager Kyle Dubas putting a real onus on making his team stronger, bigger, more experienced and tougher to play against.
Will it make a difference though?
The Maple Leafs have craved a solid and reliable top-four defenseman like T.J. Brodie for quite some time now, and the former Calgary Flames blueliner will slot in perfectly alongside Morgan Rielly.
After all, while both are left-shots, Brodie has played the right side for the majority of his career and he’s more of a stay-at-home defenseman, which will then allow Rielly to focus on jumping up in the rush and contributing offense.
That is something Brodie can do too with the 30-year-old recording 19 points (4 G, 15 A) in 64 games for the Flames last year, but the veteran’s main job will be to give Frederik Andersen some much-needed protection and ensure that the Maple Leafs are more solid and more robust in their own zone.
Zach Bogosian, who won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019-20, will add some depth and a lot of grit and snarl on that backend, and he could play a big role in a shortened 56-game season.
We’ve already discussed the kind of impact Joe Thornton will have in the previous slide, but it will also be interesting to see how big a role Wayne Simmonds plays in 2020-21.
The human wrecking ball is arguably what the Maple Leafs have both needed and lacked for quite some while, and he will bring a bucketload of toughness to the table in addition to adding a different dimension to that bottom-six group.
And Simmonds should be able to chip in with offense too. He recorded 24 points (8 G, 16 A) in 61 games on a poor New Jersey Devils team last year, and he’ll be surrounded by better players with the Leafs so it isn’t out of the realms of possibility to think that the veteran could even chip in with around the same in what will be a shortened season.
Also, if rookie Mikko Lehtonen, who will start the season on the Leafs Taxi Squad, can adjust to North America quickly and chip in with points from the blueline, then he could be an interesting impact player to watch.
Overall, the Toronto Maple Leafs made these moves in the hope that they would prove the difference and finally push this team closer to postseason success and, if all the offseason additions can stay healthy and all can make a big impact, then there is every chance that it could result to this team going on a deep run in 2020-21.