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Lou Lamoriello hints at big changes for Leafs roster next season

Of course, this is Lou Lamoriello, so take this with several grains of salt.

Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

It's not surprising that the Maple Leafs were bad this year, nor is it particularly a secret that they're in the midst of a rebuild. Sure, it feels like a perpetual one at this point - but there's been brand new management for about two years now, which leads to new lines of optimism.

And then there's the general manager himself, Lou Lamoriello, who's approaching the end of his first season with the Leafs. He featured heavily in Elliotte Friedman's 30 Thoughts this week: here's some of what he had to say.

The Leafs will look different next season. That's a given - remember when Dion Phaneuf was a Leaf? A lot changes - but according to Lamoriello, maybe, 50, 60% of the roster will look different from what we see now.


"You’ll see young players in the lineup, how many I couldn’t answer… And I’m sure you’ll see acquisitions that hopefully we’re able to make. We know what our template is, I think we know what our needs are, and getting them filled is another thing. Once you identify them then it’s what can you do, and you can’t get ahead of yourself just for the sake of doing it….I do believe we’re a little bit ahead of where I thought we might be because of what the potential is — and I’m very careful of that word with some of our younger players — and how they’ve developed and the success they’ve had with the Marlies coming together, working together, knowing what it is to win."

So much of the Leafs' current roster are young players and call-ups; the defence, in particular, is filled almost exclusively with babies. It's not realistic to have your AHL team actually playing NHL games, though, so it sounds like the Leafs are in for a really busy (and therefore, exciting) summer.

What does this all mean for Mitch Marner, though?


"I do not feel that he’s ready today, whether he’s ready in September or October only time will tell. But he’s in a very difficult position with the success he’s had in junior, and maybe he’s too good for junior, coming September maybe not quite ready for the National Hockey League. So those will be judgments that have to be made at a certain time, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. He’s got a season in the Ontario league right now that should be his focus, that’s where it should be."

If anything, Marner may be a victim of the CHL-NHL agreement, in which players drafted out of the CHL can't go to the AHL unless they're at least 20 years old. Marner is a May birthday, so he only has two options next season: the CHL, or the NHL.

Except he already has 111 points in 54 games with the London Knights this season. Where, exactly, is he supposed to go from there?

Lamoriello does talk about having young players in the lineup, though; Marner will be only 19 come the start of next season, so he fits that criteria. And in all likelihood, he's a big part of the potential Lamoriello is excited about (well, I assume he's excited) - and while caution should be exercised in that area... Seriously, what is Marner going to get out of another season in junior?

While we're talking Lamoriello, here's one final note on him.


A couple other execs who know Lamoriello well say he might not admit it, but he needed a change. They used the word "rejuvenated" to describe him. Does he feel that way?

"Maybe," was his reply.

I dunno about you guys, but the Leafs certainly look to be a bit more fun to rebuild than the Devils right now, so I'll toast to that.