After 9 consecutive years of missing the playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs were back on the ice fighting for the Stanley Cup Championship after finishing fifth overall in the East in the 2012-13 season. Despite losing in a tightly contested first round matchup with the Boston Bruins, the Maple Leafs appear poised for another run at the playoffs after a lengthy rebuilding period. With the regular season only a month away, the Toronto Maple Leafs emerge from the offseason with an influx of veteran talent from the free agent market. For a team as young as the Maple Leafs, having a strong veteran presence in the locker room can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful season.
During the offseason, the Maple Leafs traded for veteran center Dave Bolland. Bolland adds valuable championship experience and additional scoring talent to the frontline. The free-agent signing of forward David Clarkson gives the Maple Leafs a goal oriented wing who will quickly become a fan favorite in Toronto because of his physical play and overall talent. Already having a strong defense, the team opted to re-sign Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren rather than scouring the free agent market for costly or unproven players.
Behind the net, 25-year old James Reimer is expected to continue to improve; however, despite his 2013 success the Maple Leafs added backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier from the Kings. While Bernier is not expected to challenge the talented and physical Reimer, he should add much needed depth to the team in the event of an injury.
The Maple Leafs focused on adding veteran talent, toughness and depth during the 2013 offseason. The team should be no worse than last year; however, without a number 1 star fans of the Leafs should not expect the team to advance farther than the second round of the playoffs.
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