|Date & Time||Saturday September 28, 2013, 12:00 AM (EDT)|
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Despite what we all may think about the price that the Toronto Maple Leafs paid in bringing in some players over the offseason, the bottom line is that they got better. For a club that made the playoffs for the first time in nine years and should've been in the Eastern Conference Finals, there's things to look forward too.
Yes, David Clarkson is extremely overpaid. Yes, he also cost his team by getting suspended for the first 10 games of the regular season. But he'll add some much needed physicality, bite, and depth scoring to a club that also brought in Dave Bolland over the summer. Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri will be huge keys to this club and their ability to move forward. Their continued progression is necessary if the club is going to avoid taking a step backwards. James van Riemsdyk could also be in line for a huge year.
Defensively the club could have some issues, especially if injuries surface during the course of the season. They've got a crop of good defenseman but even Dion Phaneuf isn't a guy to consider elite anymore as he gets up there in age. Jake Gardiner has the tools to be very good but he still needs to put it all together. Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson, John Michael Liles, and Paul Ranger round out the group.
The acquisition of Jonathan Bernier will either be looked back on as a huge steal or a mistake depending on how things shake out in net for the club. With James Reimer still in the fold it should be a good duo but will that affect how both play on a consistent basis? They're both very talented and it will be interesting to see who's the first to assert themselves when the regular season begins.