Sportsnet’s Justin Bourne published an article entitled What to expect from last season’s top half of the Atlantic Division in 2022-23. In it, he opines that a bit of regression from the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers will open the door for the Toronto Maple Leafs to take the division title. Here’s what he had to say about the Cats:
The reigning President’s Trophy champs took the opposite road from our next team, the Toronto Maple Leafs: after a crushing post-season defeat, they traded out a crucial core piece and flipped the look of their roster entirely.
Their version of “going for it” says they didn’t believe in the way they were built last year. Jonathan Huberdeau was fifth in Hart Trophy voting, and was shipped out alongside D-man MacKenzie Weegar, who put up over 40 points from the back-end.
You only do something so drastic if you believe fully in what’s coming the other way, and what’s coming back to them in Matthew Tkachuk, who had over 100 points last year to go with a more physical edge (a deciding factor, in my opinion, is why they valued him over Huberdeau).
So it’s Huberdeau out, Weegar out, Mason Marchment signed with Dallas, Claude Giroux signed with Ottawa, and Ben Chiarot signed with Detroit. With those names gone, they’ve added Colin White, Nick Cousins, Marc Staal, Anthony Bitetto and Michael Del Zotto (the latter two spent some time in the AHL last season).
Tkachuk is a special player entering his prime and a wonderful addition. Maybe that makes them better, or at least different, than a one-for-one swap with Huberdeau. After that, it’s almost impossible to argue they’ve improved this off-season (which would have been awfully hard after winning the President’s Trophy and the salary cap existing).
There’s still a ton of talent here and a very good team. But they got career-year output from a number of players last season (goal highs from Barkov, 39, Bennett, 28, Reinhart, 33, Verhaeghe, 24, and Duclair, 31, the latter of whom may miss most of the regular season with an Achilles tear).
Just about everything went right. Like Tampa, I’d say if anything, they’re a few percentage points worse when just assessing their roster.
It’ll be up to arguably their biggest addition – head coach Paul Maurice – to ensure they’re built not just for regular season success, but for the playoffs.
Definitely worth a read as we near the start of training camp.
Speaking of the Atlantic Division, the Ottawa Senators inked unrestricted free agent forward Tyler Motte to a one-year deal worth $1.35 million. Motte was traded from the Vancouver Canucks (15 points in 49 games) to the New York Rangers, where he appeared in nine regular season games and 15 of the team’s 20 postseason games. Motte tallied twice in the playoffs. (Silver Seven Sens)
LATAM Cup (Panthers IceDen)
Colombia 6, Brazil 4
Mexico 6, Lebanon FCHC 2
Lebanon FCHC 7, Colombia 1
Mexico 3, Puerto Rico 1
Chile 8, Mexico Lobos 4
Lebanon FCHC 8, Mexico Warriors 0
Argentina 4, Brazil 3
Egypt Pharaohs, 4, Central America 1
Stars of Israel 10, Venezuela 1
Puerto Rico 8, ROTW 4
Puerto Rico 10, Stanley 0
Caribbean 10, Colombia 2
Mexico KG 6, Colombia 0
Puerto Rico 6, Argentina 5
Brazil 6, HPOC 4
Venezuela 6, Colombia 3
Caribbean 13, Puerto Rico 12
Mexico Warriors 5, Colombia 3
Chile 3, Puerto Rico 2
Colombia 5, Argentina 1
Mexico Warriors 11, Chile 4