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Didn't get close is relative. The leafs lost in 7 games to a team that itself made it to game 7 of the cup final. I think if they got past Boston, they would have got past Columbus and Carolina too.

I would expect the power play to be better and that will make a significant difference.

The defense should be OK, for now. But ... if they do well, you can't bring them back, and if they don't you are similarly stuck to replace them. And ... why does Andersen stay in 2 years time? You can't pay him his worth and you won't put a good defense in front of him. They need to do well this year, and may be able to scrape together next year, but then they will need to do a (hopefully) short term rebuild on the defensive side.
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