Toronto Maple Leafs: A Mid Season Review


As 2015 begins to draw to a close, the NHL season inches its way toward the midpoint. Enough games have been played to know what each team is, making this a good point for reviewing how the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season of rebuilding is progressing.

The Expectations:

Coming into the season, expectations were set low. Every publication and news outlet gave the Leafs little to no chance of making the playoffs.

With Phil Kessel traded, and a host of short term contracts handed out, the roster on paper looked devoid of the talent the rest of the league was sporting. This is not a shot at the Leafs’ players, but most of them fit the role of supporting cast rather than first line.

The lone exception to that is Morgan Reilly, but Reilly’s status is one of unrealized potential rather than achieved status.

With the roster in place, a push for another high draft pick was the silver lining most fans were and continue to talk about.

The Good:

While one can pull out a number of statistics that show improvement from shots allowed to possession numbers, the good is based on the eye test.

Watching the Leafs play this season has been a total turnaround from the team that took the ice to end last season. The most noticeable improvement in this writer’s opinion has been the effort.

While this team may not be loaded with talent, it has been full of work ethic. Despite sitting at the bottom of the standings, this team has come to play on most nights. It is this type of commitment to leaving it all on the ice that should make fans feel good about future prospects.

Praise for effort deserves to be spread across multiple names on this squad, but one has stood out more than others. Leo Komarov is the unquestioned leader at setting the example of the effort and compete level for this team.

Komarov brings it every shift. Whether that is fighting for pucks in the corner, getting to the net or any other facet of the game, Komarov puts it all out there. He is the type of role playing leader you want the young guys to take note of.

The young players in the Leafs system are shining in the lower levels for their respective teams. It will not be long before names like Nylander, Marner and Brown are making the lineup card. While production at the AHL and OHL level does not guarantee success, you have to feel that the amount of young talent that is producing in the system will generate a fair share of successful pros.

The Bad:

Up until the past two games, the play of Jonathan Bernier was the worst part of the Maple Leafs’ season. His struggles cost the Leafs the opportunity for more points in the standings. Two games does not erase the damage done in the first ten, but it does offer hope moving forward.

Injuries are part of the game, but seeing James Reimer succumb to injury while being on top of his game was a tough blow to the Leafs. Following that up with aggravating the injury upon returning leads to concern that any momentum Reimer had in net will be tough to regain.

Brad Boyes was expected to have a larger impact when he made the team after a PTO. While his numbers are not horrible, being a healthy scratch as often as he has been shows he has plenty of work to do in the coach’s eyes. There is still time for him to turn it around, but for a solid veteran coming home, he has not gotten off to the start expected.


To this point, the Leafs are sitting in the standings exactly where most believed they would be. The difference is they have played to a level above their record for the most part. The structure to their play has been taking shape and as mentioned before the effort level has been excellent.

Next: Toronto Maple Leafs Rumors: Bernier and Calgary

So far this season the Toronto Maple Leafs have given fans the best of both worlds. They are in contention for another high pick in the upcoming draft while playing at a level that fans can appreciate. If the effort level, and commitment to structure takes root for future seasons, then this season will accomplished a lot going forward.