Asked and Answered
1. How will Andrew Raycroft deal with being 'The Man' in the hockey fishbowl that is Toronto?
Raycroft showed enough for me to have confidence in him to be the number one in Toronto. Aside from his puck handling (which is actually good when he uses two hands) there has been a tendency once in a while to go down early and to snatch at pucks. However, during his comfortable stretches he has shown flashes of the goalie that won the Calder. He is very sound positionally and has a good glove hand. If you look at JFJ's blog you will see that the Leafs staff all have confidence in him and you cannot discount the effect that will have on his psyche (goalie's being notoriously crazy...err...thin skinned).
2. Will the players on the bubble cement a spot?
The Leafs lines for the opener are set. Thanks to injuries there will be quite a few of the guys on the bubble in the team. How many stick will depend largely on how they play especially on the back end. Suglobov has seemingly cemented a spot. Whether it is on the 3rd or 4th line will depend on how he gels with Stajan and Tucker. O'Neill will have to work his tail off to solidify his place before Antropov and Ondrus return from the IR. And thank God the terrible Kubina suspension is only one game. Only 60(65) minutes of Wade Belak. So unfortunately, after three weeks of camp, there are still a lot of roster questions to be answered.
3. How will the top line of Sundin, Ponikarovsky, and Wellwood fare?
They have had their moments but are clearly still building their chemistry:
"Our line is like the rest of the lines on the team, we still have to make adjustments to the new systems (under coach Paul Maurice)," Sundin said. "We've had a couple of games so far and we're getting better."
4. Will the addition of Peca pay off?
In terms of the penalty kill his addition will benefit right away. The interesting thing about that five minute major to Kubina was that Peca was brought on the ice to take three straight defensive zone face-offs that resulted in clearances after he had won them.
Face-offs are another area in which he will benefit the Leafs. They will have another centreman to go along with Sundin to take big draws. Not to mention the intagible benefit that the Leafs will draw from having their young forwards seeing how hard Peca competes on each shift. Not to say that Steen did not throw the body before but in the last pre-season game he was much more physical than I have ever seen. Aleksander Suglobov even hustled to backcheck! I think that the Leafs' $2.5M will prove to be a great investment.