Leafs captain reveals how he feels about the current state of the Atlantic Division

Mike Armenti
August 27, 2023  (11:06)

When looking at the overall layout of the Atlantic Division and when you consider what teams have added and subtracted this summer, you'd certainly have to consider the Toronto Maple Leafs among the favourites to win the division this season.

We all know of the tremendous losses suffered by the Boston Bruins, with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retiring, Tyler Bertuzzi signing in Toronto, Taylor Hall being traded to Chicago, along with Nick Foligno, and their prized trade deadline acquisition in Dmitry Orlov signing in Carolina. Tampa Bay certainly didn't get any better this summer, having lost Ross Colton and Pat Maroon. Florida lost Anthony Duclair and Radko Gudas, among others.
Meanwhile, the Leafs not only parted with some dead weight in Alexander Kerfoot and Justin Holl, but they replaced Michael Bunting with Tyler Bertuzzi and brought in Max Domi, John Klingberg and Ryan Reaves as well. They bolstered their crease by adding Martin Jones as the 3rd string goalie behind Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll, and they may yet add on the blueline.
Even though Leafs Nation may be focused on how strong of a summer the Leafs have had in comparison to some of their competitors within the division, Leafs captain John Tavares says the team's not taking anything lightly. He revealed this week that he believes that the competition is stiff in the Atlantic Division, regardless of the fact that certain teams may have lost some key pieces this summer.
"Yeah, 100 percent (the competition will be more difficult). The steps that Detroit, Buffalo and Ottawa, the steps they are taking, you see the talent they are developing and the season some of their guys have had (last year) and the way their teams are growing and the challenges they present, they obviously feel they are ready to start contending and be playoff teams. There is no doubt it's only going to continue to get harder and harder, so we are aware of that challenge and know what's ahead." - Tavares on the new challengers emerging in the Atlantic Division

Tavares says the Leafs are setting the bar high for themselves this season and will not overlook any of their Atlantic Division competition. We know that the Leafs have had a hard time beating "lesser competition" in recent years, so this season, they'll have to come into these games with the right mindset and give their opponents the respect they deserve to avoid losing very winnable games.
"We certainly respect what they bring to the table, but we have to be prepared and we expect a lot of ourselves and have high expectations to still be one of the top teams if not the top team in our division. That's always the goal when you start the year and I think with the caliber of players we have and the depth we have, we still want to be right there but we know the competition is only getting tougher." - Tavares on where the bar is set for the Leafs this season

The start of training camp is now just a couple of short weeks away, so we'll begin to hear more about players traveling back to Toronto to become acclimated with new teammates, the team's facilities and the city. Tavares revealed that some new players, including Max Domi, are already taking part in informal skates at Ford Performance Center. He also shared how he's feeling about the team's new acquisitions for the upcoming season.
"I'm really happy with progress to this point and excited about the last few weeks here before we gear up for real. I'm excited for another journey. Obviously there's been a lot of changes with the team but a lot of familiarity as well so I'm just excited for that new year, new journey and to get this thing going." - Tavares on this new-look Leafs team

It's glad to know that the Leafs aren't coming into this season with the mindset that anything is going to be easy. Even with the Atlantic Division no longer looking like the powerhouse that it once was, there are going to be tough matchups every night for the Buds. It's nice to know that they're getting prepared for it now and setting the bar as high as they are and taking things seriously.
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Leafs captain reveals how he feels about the current state of the Atlantic Division

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