with the cap space we have, we should be able to add 2 notable free agents. 3 if we buy out komi. Along with Reilly and Gardiner coming back, we can significantly improve.
At first, our cap management seemed awful, but I have to say our bad contracts (besides Komo) are either gone or expiring at the conclusion of this year. I'm still not confident about this team making the playoffs this year - and a couple of wins will obvious cloud judgment - but overall the sheer development of this franchise in comparison to just two years ago is spectacular. Reimer looks amazing, and I'm doing my best to remain objective, but it's so difficult when you see such a great small sample of star caliber play on your favourite team!
Having 3 lines that can score is really a great boon.
I am not a fan of the top 6 / bottom 6 - it puts too much pressure on the top 6, and we just don't have the kind of concentration of skill to pull that off.
However, we DO have very good scoring depth in our organisation, and the team is being build around that.
Defensive depth is also great, and the Leafs are compensating for lack of bottom 6 toughness by big, nasty defencemen. And now that the Leafs are playing zone defence instead of man-to-man, the big guys who aren't the best skaters are a LOT more effective.
The meltdown the Leafs had last year is showing to be the exception rather than the rule.
The fact that Burke fired Wilson is really indicative that it was a coaching problem rather than a player problem.
All of this with no contribution from Kessel+Lupul
I'm quite pleased with the performance thus far, though we vastly need to improve our play at home. I think Carlyle at the helm has done wonders to this team and erased damage that some thought was permanent from the disaster that was RW.
Last year at the quarter mark, despite the similar record, the leafs were clearly showing a less complete game. Their goaltending was very poor, their goal differential was actually negative, and their success was based entirely on their elite offense at that point, which in turn was based largely on an unsustainably hot PP.
I'd say there's more reason to be encouraged by this year's start - for 2 main reasons: 1) J.Reimer looks great, and 2) our PP has stunk so far, and we're still doing well despite it.