The new Atlantic division next season brings in three new teams the Boston Bruins will have to face as they work to clinch a top playoff spot. However, their biggest challenge will come from a team that they are all too familiar with, the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs have been active this offseason, eager to make up for the disappointing end to their playoffs last season at the hands of the Bruins. Now with a new mindset and additional talent, it will be the Leafs that will be the biggest opponent to the Bruins’ chances of winning the division.
The Leafs’ no nonsense approach to their squad this offseason has set a tone that management and coaches mean business. Mikhail Grabvoski was swiftly ushered out the door after disagreeing with the coach, while they added much needed muscle in David Clarkson and a solid player in David Bolland. Also, the team made a serious move to solidify their goaltending for good by bringing in Jonathan Bernier. No chances were going to be taken anymore with James Reimer whom the Leafs desperately were looking to replace. In front of Bernier, the team looks solid with all of the big names coming back or re-signed.
In terms of management, the Leafs have made a transformation. They bring in Tim Leiweke, the new CEO who is determined to bring a new culture of winning and tradition to Toronto as they focus on starting a new era in Maple Leafs’ history. As one of the most accomplished men in all of sports, Leiweke will bring new energy and a kick in the butt for a team that desperately needs it given their long Cup drought. Dave Nonis is the relatively new GM who is now clearly in charge and given an opportunity to made some big changes. All of the new signings this offseason have been a result of him.
Though many did not expect it, the Maple Leafs not only bounced back from their crushing defeat to the Bruins but are looking stronger than ever due to some big changes this offseason. New energy surrounds the organization from the players to management with expectations that just making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore. They will be a serious challenge for the Bruins as they set their sight on a championship. Maybe that is why they have already planned a parade route for their anticipated Stanley Cup victory.
Tim Nikolouzos is a Boston Bruins writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @timnikolou