Tyler Bozak; Phil Kesse

Offseason Report: Toronto Maple Leafs

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From July 16-Aug 16, we’ll be profiling all 30 NHL teams by recapping what they did this offseason and previewing their upcoming campaigns.

Last season

35-37-10, 80 points. Fourth in the Northeast Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference.

Additions

James van Riemsdyk, Jay McClement, Keith Aucoin

Departures

Colby Armstrong, Luke Schenn, Jonas Gustavsson, Philippe Dupuis, Joey Crabb

2012 Draft

First round, 5th overall — Morgan Rielly, D (WHL Moose Jaw)

Looking back

Toronto’s offseason was defined by what GM Brian Burke didn’t do, rather than what he did.

As for what he did…

Burke scored the promising-yet-oft-injured van Riemsdyk for a defenseman, Schenn, that had fallen out of favor — most notably with the ACC faithful.

He inked McClement to help Toronto’s woeful penalty kill, ranked 28th last season, and bought out the final year of Colby Armstrong’s contract, making amends for one of his costliest deals as Leafs GM (Armstrong signed for $9 million over three years and in return, missed 85 games and scored just nine goals.)

The problem, of course, is that Burke didn’t address either of Toronto’s biggest needs — in goal, and at center.

Looking forward

The biggest unresolved issue continues to be in net, where the Leafs seem ready to enter the year with the one-two punch of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens. Burke gave the pair a vote of confidence and Remier says he’s determined to be a good No. 1, but the facts remain:

1) Poor goaltending played a key role in Toronto’s collapse last season.

2) No real changes have been made to address it.

At center, things remain equally unsolved — especially on the top line. There’s hope that plugging van Riemsdyk between Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel will do the trick but, if that doesn’t work, the Leafs are back to playing Mikhail Grabovski and/or Tyler Bozak in that role.

The wildcard in all of this is Toronto’s youth movement. The Leafs have three former first-rounders — Carter Ashton, Joe Colborne, Nazem Kadri — that should push for roster spots. But are they ready to make the leap? The answer could be a factor in whether Toronto’s playoff drought ends, or extends to an eighth season.

Have your say

Vote in our poll and let us know what you think of the Leafs’ 2012-13 outlook in the comments section.

Stars end Capitals’ winning streak, pass Blackhawks for West lead

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For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”

They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:

  • Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
  • This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
  • By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.

Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).

Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.

Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.

Blackhawks fall to Ducks in OT, lose Hossa to injury

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The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.

(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)

Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)

You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:

It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.

Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:

Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).

Understatement: Saturday was a rough night for Panthers

Nashville Predators center Colin Wilson (33) checks Florida Panthers center Jonathan Huberdeau (11) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.

You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.

The pain goes beyond that … literally so.

For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.

(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)

The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.

Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.

Fractured jaw from fight sidelines Chris Stewart for 4-8 weeks

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It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.

The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).

The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.

One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.