IMO the Leafs 5 most important players this season:
1. James Reimer
2. Joffrey Lupul
3. Nikolai Kulemin
5. Jake Gardiner
Honorable Mentions: Kadri, and Frattin
I left out Kessel & Phaneuf because I feel that they're established stars in the league and doubt their level of play will change much this season. Reimer, Lupul, Kulemin, JVR, and Gardiner are all variables. They could be impact players this season, but there's a very real chance they won't be. If Kulemin and JVR can both pot 20 + goals with size and a two-way game, or Reimer bounces back that's a big boost to our team. If the Lupul-Kessel duo loses it's magic, or Gardiner regresses it would be a huge blow to our team.
1. James Reimer (Season is on him if we don't get more support)
2. Dion Phaneuf
3. Tyler Bozak or Tim Connolly (Playing C)
4. Grabovski or Kulemin (Providing scoring depth)
5. JVR (Adding size to the top 6)
I would say two of the five are players we don't have yet -- the centre and goalie that I expect Burke to trade for when the CBA is settled. We cannot go into the season with Reimer as the starter and Bozak as the #1 again. Cannot.
The other three are Phaneuf, Kessel, and Kulemin.
Well, because the Kulemin of two years ago was an absolute beast and would provide the Leafs' top 6 a badly needed additional scoring wing with size and a real threat when Kessel isn't out there. I have no idea what happened to him last season though.
Phaneuf has to be a more consistent player and a better leader, although I sympathize with the cast of total softies out there with him. I mean, there is so little fear there that Dion has to personally drop the gloves every time he lays out a big hit. It's ridiculous. Nevertheless, as Captain he can't go in the tank with the rest of them like he did last season, that was disappointing.
Other than staying healthy, Phil just has to keep on Phillin'. All it took was a career 50 point winger for 3/4 of the season and Kessel produced an elite level year. What happens if he gets a real centre as well?
Honestly it makes sense that Phaneuf isn't on the list. THink of it this way, you know what you get with Phaneuf there isn't question marks on him
Jake Gardinder needs to get past a sophomore slump
JVR needs to live up to expectations and get over injuries
Lupul needs to prove he can play the same way that he did last year
Kessel is our best player but he needs to show his true potential hitting 40 goals that he can do
Reimer is the biggest question mark, he had his concussion and didn't look good since coming back. He's our n1 goalie and needs to step up
Pretty simple imo
I totally agree, there are reasons, why these 5 were chosen, and in
order. They all have to improve. I know hard to say when thinking
about Kessel, but he too, has to do more.
Why is bleacher report considered a news source? It's a fan driven collective much like SBNation, just worse, and has little credibility of authors. It's a site that gathers its content through crowd-sourced means.
1. James Reimer / Ben Scrivens : basically one of them has to take the #1 spot and go with it.
2. Tyler Bozak - if he can prove to be a 65-70pt center with a better two-way game, then our team is going to go a long way.
3. Korbinian Holzer- out team desperately needs that big defensive presence outside of Dion. If he can bring that, our team is that much better already. We also need him to strengthen that second PK unit (assuming Gunnar and Dion take #1).
4. Nik Kulemin- needs to get over the plain crash and get back to hockey. If we can get 25g 50pts range to go with his two-way game and PK skills, we are much better off.
5. Jay Mcclement - our big free agent acquisition. If he can get that PK working and bring us out of the basement there, than we are golden.
Goaltending, secondary scoring and PK. Those are the areas that need improvement from our team and the 5 guys listed are the most important players to solve those issues.