Q: The Leafs added key veteran forwards in Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds. How do you see those two as well as Jason Spezza slotting into the lineup this year?
A: Thornton is currently playing on the first line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. I’m personally a little skeptical of how long that will persist for. I’d expect to see him as a bottom 6 centre eventually. Simmonds and Spezza seem to be penciled in to an offensive 4th line role for now.
Q: T.J. Brodie was the big addition on defence. Do you see him playing his off right side, maybe alongside Morgan Rielly, or will he be a left-side defenceman?
A: It’d be genuinely shocking if Brodie played on the left side. He’s starting out on the right, and given the strength of the Leafs’ left side relative to their right, it would likely take a massive injury list to have Brodie move from right to left.
Q: Frederik Andersen has been a workhorse since arriving in Toronto. How many games do you see him starting this season?
A: Making GP prognostications in the year of COVID is a recipe to look dumb, but I’d expect Andersen to play about 75% of the games he’s healthy for.
Q: How far do the Leafs have to make it this season for the year to be considered a success?
With the caveat that anything can happen in a full regular season and playoffs, let alone a 56 game regular season and playoffs, the Leafs need to look like the best team in the division. There are no juggernauts in the North, so anything less than a regular season where the Leafs look like the class of the division will be seen as below what they need to be to make good on the much-hyped promise of the team. In the playoffs, anything can happen, but the fanbase is sick of first round exits, so a playoff round win is the bare minimum. I think most are hoping for at least two. It’s by no means a guarantee, but this isn’t going to get any easier in future years.
Q: The North Division gives a chance to strengthen existing Eastern Canadian rivalries, and to create new rivalries with other Canadian teams. What are you most looking forward to in the division? Is there anything you’re dreading?
A: This will be lots of fun if the Leafs are good and pretty horrible if they aren’t. The bragging rights if the Leafs dominate the division in the regular season + playoffs would be tremendous. Conversely, if they fail to live up to expectations (which is kinda what the Leafs do), we will deservedly eat shit, and all the other Canadian fanbases will rub that in our faces.