The 2022-2023 NHL season is closing in with every passing day, training camps have officially begun as preseason games are being played. Toronto has their sights set on what is hopefully a season like no other, with the past failures fresh in everyone’s minds this year is, and will be the Maple Leafs judgement season.
The 2021-2022 season ended just as past years have with a first round playoff exit. Despite finding the regular season success repeatedly the Toronto Maple Leafs have fallen short of a second round playoff series since 2003. Toronto held leads in games, and in the series at various points in the playoffs and still ended up on the losing end.
Fast forward to the current day and the Maple Leafs begin camp with two goaltenders looking to make a comeback. Netminder Matt Murray looking to solidify the narrative that he is back and ready to be a number one NHL goaltender, following some tough seasons with the Ottawa Senators. The challenger is Ilya Samsonov who will look to showcase his skill set to become the number one this season, and build off a 23-12 overall record from last year during 2021-2022 with the Washington Capitals.
The Maple Leafs have spent their fare share of money on star players such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and captain John Tavares with individual success being reached for them, however, the team success and playoff success is the ultimate judgment when it’s all said and done. This makes the 2022-2023 season that much more interesting as these players are reaching the final few years of their current deals and the Leafs will have plenty of decisions to make as the season wears on.
The Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas will definitely be in the hot seat as he looks to get his team over the hurdle that has hindered them for years, a birth in the second round of the NHL playoffs. Kyle Dubas enters his fifth and final year of his current contract and Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan has made it clear that he will be judged on the success of the team heading into contract negotiations.
Toronto enters camp with a returning roster that is nearly set despite a couple spots up for grabs within the bottom six forwards. The Early Roster Predictions are as follows.
Auston Matthews (C)
John Tavares (C)
David Kampf (C)
Nick Abruzzese (C)
Mitchell Marner (RW)
William Nylander (RW)
Calle Jarnkrok (RW)
Nicolas Aube-Kubel (RW)
Michael Bunting (LW)
Alexander Kerfoot (LW)
Pierre Engvall (LW)
Wayne Simmonds (LW)
The hopefuls looking to crack the roster once again is forwards Nick Robertson, Zach Aston-Reese, Kyle Clifford, Alex Steeves, and Denis Malgin. As for the defenceman on the outside looking in the obvious Rasmus Sandin saga continues, other camp invitees include Carl Dahlstrom, Mac Hollowell, Filip Kral to name a few. Goaltender Erik Kallgren and Joseph Woll will continue to battle for the third spot for the Maple Leafs.
The 2022-2023 season should go similar to recent years with a team that can be matches up with almost any team on paper. The true test lies as we all know with the playoff success and the Maple Leafs core will be tasked with finding a way to lead this team to un-chartered waters.
What are your thoughts on the Maple Leafs judgement year? Let us know in the comments below!
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