Where the Maple Leafs Stack Up in the Atlantic Division After a Busy Off-Season

Dean Chaudhry
September 30, 2022  (9:04)

With the regular season just two weeks away from commencing, the Toronto Maple Leafs enter the 2022-23 campaign with high expectations - yet again. The Atlantic Division was no joke last year as the Tampa Bay Lightning continued their dominance, the Florida Panthers not only won the division but the President's Trophy, and the Boston Bruins continued striving for consistency regardless of their aging core and injuries. Nevertheless, the Maple Leafs finished second in the division and only 7 points back of the Panthers for the top spot.

With a flurry of moves this summer, some of the bigger moves made by several dark horses of the division, the Leafs stack up pretty well once again. The Boston Bruins were dealt the kill shot when they announced Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, and Matt Grzelcyk would miss the start of the season and then some. The Florida Panthers couldn't re-sign their trade deadline acquisitions in Claude Giroux or Ben Chiarot - both of whom signed within the division - and then they traded MacKenzie Weegar and Jonathan Huberdeau to the Calgary Flames for Matthew Tkachuk.
As for the final team that would contend with the Leafs for the top spot in the division, the Tampa Bay Lightning spent most of their summer extending their core players like Anthony Cirelli, Erik Cernak, and Mikhail Sergachev to 8 year contracts that kick in next season.
The non-playoff teams, primarily the Ottawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings, made some fence-swinging moves as well. The Senators traded for Alex DeBrincat at the NHL Draft and then signed Claude Giroux to a 3 year deal during free agency. The Red Wings signed Andrew Copp, David Perron, Ben Chiarot, and Dominik Kubalik.
The Maple Leafs once again made some carousel-changing moves to their bottom-6 forward depth and goaltending. The jury is still out on whether or not Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov are an improvement to Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek from last year, but if the defense holds and the high-octane offense keeps rolling, middling goaltending is the bare minimum they're going to require.
The top-end of the Atlantic Division is going to be a battle but the Leafs have positioned themselves very well to be able to compete. You can make the argument that the Panthers are going to regress, the Boston Bruins are dealing with too many injuries to count, and then the Tampa Bay Lightning remained status quo. If the Leafs finished 7 points from first place last year, there's a good chance they could take the mantle this year with the myriad of changes that have occurred within the division.
Even without John Tavares to start the season, the offense remains high-octane with the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and even Morgan Reilly. If the goaltending can at least hold the fort, the Maple Leafs are going to enjoy another successful regular season and then all bets are off once the post-season begins.
With the Red Wings, Senators, and even the Buffalo Sabres providing some dark-horse effect in the Atlantic, it's going to be interesting to see if they can ruffle some feathers and contend with the likes of the potentially regressing Bruins and Panthers.
Where the Maple Leafs Stack Up in the Atlantic Division After a Busy Off-Season

Where do you think the Leafs finish within the Atlantic Division this season?

Top spot16054.1 %
2nd7023.6 %
3rd-4th4013.5 %
Outside of the top 4268.8 %
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