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2013-14 NHL Team Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs Predictions – Odds

Bet On NHL Hockey: Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a somewhat unfamiliar spot heading into the 2013-2014 season – full of optimism and with a playoff berth firmly and understandably attainable!

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Odds to Win Stanley Cup: 20/1
Odds to Win Eastern Conference: 10/1
Odds to Win Atlantic Division: 9/2

Coach Randy Carlisle and GM Dave Nonis had quite an offseason trying to reshape this team and on paper, they look to have done a good job of making the Leafs a heck of a lot more difficult to play against and more accountable in every aspect of the game. In are Jonathan Bernier, Troy Bodie, Dave Bolland, T.J. Brennan and David Clarkson and out are Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Frattin, Mike Komisarek, Mike Kostka, Clarke MacArthur, Ryan O’Byrne, and Ben Scrivens.

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Not lost on this team ahead of the 2013-2014 campaign is the bitter taste of their early playoff exit last year – a reality that still haunts EVERY player involved.

While optimism is rampant in Toronto, the Leafs still have a number of questions to be answered. Perhaps the biggest is the goaltending situation. Incumbent James Reimer was good for the Leafs last year – a .942 save percentage but he will be pressed by Jonathan Bernier who was brought in to realistically assume the #1 job. Competition is a positive thing in sport but goaltenders are a funny bunch. Just ask Canucks fans how a “healthy” competition worked out for them! Goaltending promises to be a huge distraction all season long in Toronto as it was in Vancouver – not exactly what a team looking to take the next step needs.

The Leafs were the sixth best scoring team in the NHL last season and they only got better in the offseason. They added rugged winger David Clarkson to the mix, a former 30-goal-scorer in the prime of his NHL career and two-time Stanley Cup champion Dave Bolland to play alongside a hopefully healthy Joffrey Lupul, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, future stud Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak. [ad-4437448]

The signing of Mason Raymond at a very reasonable price gives the Leafs some speed on the third line as well. Toronto looks as though they will be terrific offensively again. Not only do they have skill but they are arguably the most physical forward unit in the game heading into the season – rivaling the Boston Bruins. The Leafs always had youth, speed and skill – now they have some sandpaper that makes them a very difficult team to play against night-in and night-out.

The offense will likely have to be the key to the 2013-2014 Leafs. Defensively they are not exactly stacked although they enter the season with largely the same group that was second in the league last year on the Penalty Kill. Dion Phaneuf is the catalyst and Jake Gardiner has a chance to become one of the better offensive defensemen in the NHL but outside of those two there remains a void – no names jump off the page as top flight NHL D-men. Carl Gunnarsson will play alongside Phaneuf, Cody Franson will play with Gardiner and John-Michael Liles and Mark Fraser likely make up the third unit. Unflattering on paper but we did say that about this group last year as well!

Betting Prediction: It is said in sport that you have to taste adversity before you learn how to win and the Leafs definitely had their share of heartache in the playoffs last year. Will they have learned from their Game 7 collapse against Boston? Will the new additions provide the experience and leadership for this team to get over the hump? It remains to be seen.

I think the Leafs are a nice team but I may not be as in love with them as most. They are a playoff team for sure but that is about all we can expect from them. Goaltending controversies seem to never end well and a sketchy defense makes the Leafs a slightly above average team – not an elite one. They are definitely trending upward but imagining an Atlantic Division crown, an Eastern Conference Championship or a Stanley Cup is a pipe dream – this year at least!

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Long known for his MASTERY OF THE PLAYOFFS, Ben Burns is winning AGAIN this postseason. When it comes to the total for the BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR, sharps often turn to Ben. The long-time "Totals Guru," once nailed 10 STRAIGHT SUPERBOWL WINNERS and he's fresh off of a winner for the 5TH YEAR IN A ROW with his total in the CFB TITLE GAME. Be there!

About DaveB

Dave B has been a Fantasy Football writer for us for 10 years. A couch potato wannabe, Dave’s insights have been read by 10’s of people for years. He hope’s for world peace + global relaxation. Enjoy and remember only smoke things that are completely natural.