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Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mikhail Grabovski waits for a face-off against the Buffalo Sabres during the second period of their NHL pre-season hockey game in Toronto September 27, 2010. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Mike Cassese/Reuters

1. The captain. Dion Phaneuf will again lead the Leafs in ice time, as coach Ron Wilson plans to use him in every situation and often against other team's top lines. Will they get the Phaneuf who scored at an almost 50-point pace late last season? Or the one who struggled to produce prior to that?

2. Mikhail Grabovski's contract status. It's getting little attention this early in the year, but the Leafs top player last season is in a contract year and due for a big raise from the $2.9-million he'll make this season. Will Grabovski repeat his career year and, if so, will GM Brian Burke pay to keep him?

3. The masked men. Goaltending had been an organizational black hole for years until James Reimer arrived midway through last season. Can he and backup Jonas Gustavsson keep it up?

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4. The injury ward. The Leafs have quite a few battered bodies at the moment, with Nazem Kadri out with a knee injury and Tim Connolly nursing an unknown upper body injury. Neither will play opening night. Toronto was remarkably healthy last season and finished out of the playoffs. They likely need that good luck again.

5. The cap crunch. After acquiring centre David Steckel on Tuesday, the Leafs are very tight against the salary cap and have too many players on one-way deals. Another trade is likely in the early going, with centre Tyler Bozak and defenceman Carl Gunnarsson on the block.

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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