NHL Power Rankings Week One: Capitals, Lightning, Predators, And Ducks Are Favorites

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Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Power Rankings: #29 – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs, once a proud franchise, have been the laughing stock of the NHL for a good part of the last two seasons. New head coach Mike Babcock and a front office that’s a “Who’s Who” of front office personnel hope to change that. Did I mention that their owners have a ton of money and they’re creative enough to know how to use it to better the team?

STRENGTHS: Mike Babcock is arguably the best head coach in the league. He’s famous for having success no matter what. He has some solid building blocks in Toronto. Morgan Reilly and Jake Gardiner are two excellent defensemen that should help the Leafs form a strong blue line in the future. Dion Phaneuf isn’t a first pairing defenseman, but that doesn’t mean he’s horrible.

Babcock is used to working with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg as his centers. While nobody’s going to confuse Nazem Kadri or Peter Holland for either of the two, he could do a lot worse. Kadri has had success as a second line center. He has the potential to be a number one center. James Van Riemsdyk is a fine complementary player.

Their biggest strengths are their prospect system and their owner’s wallets. They sign guys to one-year deals knowing that they’ll flip them for draft picks. Pretty interesting way to buy draft picks. I like it. They also have gorgeous jerseys. Toronto’s a pretty awesome city.

WEAKNESSES: They have some horrible contracts to get rid of. Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, JVR, and Phaneuf could all find themselves on the way out of Toronto. I’ll make this really short. Pretty much everything is a weakness for them (or will be in the near future).

OUTLOOK: Babcock has his toughest job yet. He might need to be committed to the nuthouse by the end of the year. For the first time in a while, I can say that the Leafs know what they’re doing. That’s a step in the right direction for the once proud franchise.

Next: #28