Jason Head_Shot 2[1]

By Jason Sutcliffe

Thursday afternoon the Toronto Maple Leafs announced  they had locked GM and Senior Vice President David Nonis in for another 5 years. A move I personally think is the right one. He has been consistent to his plan for what he and Carlyle want to see here in Toronto.

Last year the Leafs had more success than they have in a decade. After finishing fifth in the conference and showing a lot of heart coming back from being down 3 games to 1 against Boston to force a game 7. For Toronto fans it was a different feeling knowing we were a competitive team in the Eastern Conference. Truthfully, I think the city was still skeptical about feeling optimistic until game 6 ended.

After the tears dried and the pain subsided following our meltdown in the final 10 minutes of game 7, it was clear to Leaf fans that the club was headed in the right direction.

The holes in our team game were exposed and it was painfully obvious what pieces of the puzzle needed to be added in order for us to succeed in the upcoming season; most importantly we needed to get better and stronger down the middle, tougher on the wings without compromising skill, with Reimer’s injury issues over the past couple years we needed a reliable back up, and we needed to add at least one solid defencemen.

Nonis had checklist for the off-season. So how has he done? Well as far as getting stronger down the middle, he took care of our present and helped out our future on draft day when he drafted Fredrick Gauthier, a 6’4”, 214lbs centre from the Rimouski Oceanic, and added Centre Dave Bolland from the Blackhawks for a 2nd round pick and two 4th round picks.

It cost us fan favourite Mikael Grabovski but that was the necessary loss, as we needed to resign Tyler Bozak to stay strong in the face-off circle, which Nonis was able to do. I was impressed with Nonis’ ability to make the tough decision and make the right one, to resign Grabovski regardless of work ethic and fan appeal would have been counter productive.

He was able to give us some size and grit down the wings by adding free agent David Clarkson in early July when the free agency market opened up. Clarkson may prove to be the perfect addition to our second line as his style of hockey should mesh very well with Lupul and Kadri.

I was one of the few who was happy that he kept to the script and added the skill set that we required to fit into Carlyle’s brand of gritty, hard-nosed hockey. There were a number of other names available through free agency and the trade market that were high-profile but did not fit into Carlyle’s system. Nonis did not just jump at players because of a name he followed the plan and obtained the pieces he felt best completed our puzzle.

Before any of those acquisitions, Nonis went out and got Bernier from the L.A. Kings, the back up to Jonathan Quick who in many eyes was only a back up because he was playing behind Quick. This gives the Leafs a solid pair of goaltenders between the pipes. I am curious to see who will get the nod for the Leafs when the season starts.

With a couple of months to go before the season starts there is still time for Nonis to add the last required piece in my opinion, which is a solid stay at home defencemen. They have signed Ranger who may be able to fill that role but only time will tell. I would imagine that Nonis will be keeping his eye out and working on something before the season starts, unless his plan is to work with what we have in the minors.

Whatever Nonis decides to do he has earned my trust by taking our organization in the right direction, and attempting to add the necessary players to take us further into the post-season in the 2013-14 campaign.

It has been a long time since it has felt this good to be a Leaf fan. Go Leafs Go!

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