The Montreal Canadiens are Canada’s team in the Final Four much to the dismay of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Yes, you remember : Toronto was in the lead 3-1 in the first round series with an impressive roster (but without captain John Tavares) when the Habs made a stunning comeback to win the series in seven games.
After Montreal ousted the Winnipeg Jets in a sweeping four-game second round series, Canada’s eyes all turned to the Habs and this has allowed general manager Kyle Dubas to take a closer look at the teams competing in the Final Four. According to the exuberant Steve Simmons, this has prompted him to realize what is missing from his club, and unfortunately he believes things are about to get worse for the Maple Leafs.
“Outside of Jason Spezza, who scored three times against Montreal, no bottom half player contributed much of anything for the Leafs. The big guys didn’t score. The little guys didn’t either.
And now GM Kyle Dubas probably has to say goodbye to (Zach) Hyman and probably (Nick) Foligno, because they can’t afford them, goodbye to (Wayne) Simmonds, goodbye to (Joe) Thornton, because they didn’t play well enough to keep, and maybe goodbye, through expansion, to Alex Kerfoot, who chipped in reasonably well with captain John Tavares out of the lineup.”
There is no doubt when fans realize what the Maple Leafs are about to lose that Dubas will once again have to work his magic to make some significant moves this summer to ensure Toronto remains a top contender.
Furthermore, a top contender that can - FINALLY- move on to the second round of the postseason.
“Dubas and team president Brendan Shanahan have been steadfast in their belief they can build a winner around Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Tavares — the $40-million Four — with the NHL’s salary cap barely moving at all. But they sure need to insulate their talent up top with stronger supporting staff,” adds Simmons.
Well, the Maple Leafs will have to find a way to build that kind of roster, one that looks like Habs GM Marc Bergevin, who finished second behind New York Islanders’ Lou Lamoriello for the league’s best general manager, was able to build in Montreal. For example : a fourth line that is difficult to play against, with Eric Staal centring Corey Perry and Joel Armia.
Because the Maple Leafs are about to lose a lot when, clearly, the postseason has shown fans what they are already lacking…