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Leafs fan Mike MacDonald from Mississauga, wearing his STANLEYCUP named team jersey. Peter Power/The Globe and Mail. (Peter Power)
Leafs fan Mike MacDonald from Mississauga, wearing his STANLEYCUP named team jersey. Peter Power/The Globe and Mail. (Peter Power)

A prediction for the Leafs: <br>12th in the East</br> Add to ...

Well, with the season set to start Thursday, it's prediction time here in Toronto. Below is how I see the NHL standings bearing out this season.

East

West

1. Washington

1. Detroit

2. Pittsburgh

2. Los Angeles

3. Boston

3. Vancouver

4. Philadelphia

4. San Jose

5. New Jersey

5. Chicago

6. NY Rangers

6. Calgary

7. Buffalo

7. St. Louis

8. Ottawa

8. Nashville

9. Montreal

9. Phoenix

10. Tampa Bay

10. Colorado

11. Atlanta

11. Minnesota

12. Toronto

12. Columbus

13. Carolina

13. Edmonton

14. NY Islanders

14. Anaheim

15. Florida

15. Dallas

Why 12th for the Leafs?

In my mind, even with about a 10-point improvement, that's likely where this team is headed given its lack of offensive depth and questionable defensive play under Ron Wilson. Toronto has plenty of wild cards -- with the play of Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak and J.S. Giguere at the top of the list -- as well as third and fourth lines that really aren't going to be able to provide much offence at all.

As much as Brian Burke has improved the overall organizational depth (something that will be evident at the AHL level this year), this Leafs team remains very much a work in progress. They're better than last season's disastrous 29th-place finish, but not nearly enough to get into the postseason. I predict they'll fall into the 22nd to 26th range overall, giving Boston a pick between fifth to ninth overall in the 2011 draft.

Jeff Blair's prediction: The Leafs will finish ninth. They will be in the playoff hunt to the end, but poor goaltending and lack of depth up front will hurt them. A small step forward, but not much more.

David Shoalts' prediction: Richard Peddie said the opening of Maple Leaf Square, the condo-hotel-retail-sports bar development which is Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment's latest moneymaker, that the board of directors expects the Leafs to make the playoffs this season. Sorry, Richard, your Leafs will be better, but a lack of scoring punch means the improvement goes only as far as 10th place in the Eastern Conference.

 

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