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Offense, goaltending among Maple Leafs questions

by Mike Brophy

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new coach and a new general manager as they try to rebound from a season that saw them finish 30 points out of a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With Mike Babcock behind the bench and Lou Lamoriello in the general manager's chair, second-year team president Brendan Shanahan is going all-in on his makeover of the Maple Leafs, who have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs once since 2004 and haven't won the Cup since 1967.

Here are three questions about the Maple Leafs moving forward:

Whose team is it, anyway? Shanahan has put together a collection of strong voices to coach and run the Maple Leafs. It was made clear when Babcock signed his eight-year contract that he would have a say in personnel; it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say he had a hand in the decision to trade high-scoring forward Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Lamoriello, who built three Cup winners while running the New Jersey Devils for 28 years, is an equally strong personality who has a clear vision of how an organization should be run. He said he respects Shanahan's plan to patiently build the team, but he's used to having the final say on all aspects of an organization.

Everybody seems to be on the same page for now, but time and losing have a way of making even the most patient people make rash judgments.

Who will supply the offense? The Maple Leafs ranked 24th in goals last season (206) and traded Kessel, their No. 1 scorer in each of the past six seasons. That leaves a big hole in an already-struggling offense. Forward James van Riemsdyk had 30 goals and 61 points in 2013-14 and looked like he could become an elite scorer, but his production slipped slightly last season, to 27 goals and 56 points, and he finished at minus-33. Joffrey Lupul was once a useful secondary scorer, but the 31-year-old left wing has battled injuries and had 10 goals in 55 games last season. Nazem Kadri has undeniable offensive skill but has yet to prove he's a top-two center.

None of the forwards the Maple Leafs acquired in the offseason is a big scorer, and the young, skilled players they've drafted recently don't appear ready for prime time.

Babcock will have the Maple Leafs play a defensive style that should cut down on goals allowed, but he'll still have to find someone to put the puck in the net.

Is the goaltending strong enough? The Maple Leafs allowed 33.5 shots against per game last season, second most in the NHL. When they needed their goalies to steal a game, too often they couldn't do it.

The Maple Leafs hoped when they acquired Jonathan Bernier from the Los Angeles Kings two years ago that he would become a top-flight No. 1 goaltender. It hasn't happened yet. Bernier has shown at times he is a capable starter, but he has been inconsistent and has been hurt by allowing weak goals.

Bernier is 76-67-20 with a 2.63 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 175 NHL games; he was 21-28-7 with a 2.87 GAA and .912 save percentage in 2014-15. The 26-year-old went to salary arbitration this summer but was able to agree to a two-year contract with the Maple Leafs.

Backup James Reimer has also played 175 NHL games; he has a 74-64-11 record, 2.91 GAA and .913 save percentage. The previous coaching staff appeared to lose trust in Reimer; it will be interesting to see how he fares under Babcock.

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