The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans endured a brutal stretch to end the 2013-14 season. After a lockout-shortened season saw the team make the playoffs for the first time since the 2005 NHL lockout, and most of the ensuing season saw the team in the playoff hunt, the wheels fell off to the tune of only two wins for the Leafs in their last 14 games of the 2013-14 season.
Forward Phil Kessel isn’t worried about any of that though. In fact, he’s already certain that the worst is behind Toronto.
“I think we had a good team,” Kessel said after a ball-hockey game on centre court at Rexall Centre, per the Canadian Press. “We were there last year. We had a bad stretch. We don’t have that stretch, we’re right in it. This year we made some good additions and I think we improved as a team, and we’re going to be ready to go.”
Those moves include signings of David Booth and Daniel Winnik and the retention of promising blue liner Jake Gardiner among others. The team also prudently avoided overpaying Dave Bolland, even as they opted to overpay Leo Komarov.
Overall, it’s been a positive offseason for the Maple Leafs as they have addressed their primary weakness from last season: depth.
Now with a little more skill and depth on the roster, the Leafs can start thinking about life without a late-season collapse. Phil Kessel has been one of the best forwards in the NHL since he arrived in Toronto and one can expect that he’ll do much of the same next season.
If he can get more support from the rest of his team, expect his prediction to come true and the Leafs to return to relevance in 2015.