Toronto Maple Leafs: Pinch Me, They’re Going for the Cup

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07: Patrick Marleau
GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07: Patrick Marleau /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are Going for the Stanley Cup

A few weeks ago, I penned an article stating that the Toronto Maple Leafs are actually not far from Stanley Cup Contention.  That piece was met with mixed reviews.

The Leafs have a unique window in which they have a lot of good players and a lot of cap space.  Though many are scared off by years of bad impatient decisions by this franchise, the salary cap has forced their hand into trying to contend right now.

The Five Year Plan Changes Daily

Despite having a team built around rookies, the Leafs made a surprising appearance in the Playoffs this year.   For the first time in an 82 game schedule, since the 2003-04 season, the Leafs were going to dance.

Despite their youth, the Leafs and Captials played five over-time games and the Toronto Maple Leafs came close to beating the best team in the NHL. Factor in all those games lost in over-time during the regular season, and it’s clear the Leafs are closer to contention than most people think possible at this point.

July 1st, Free Agency

By all accounts, the Leafs had an underwhelming day one of free agency.  Brian Boyle signed with the Devils. . The Leafs signed depth players Ron Hainsey and Dominic Moore.

For fans hoping for Joe Thornton, Illya Kovalchuck or Kevin Shattenkirk, it was an underwhelming day.

July 2nd, Free Agency

There was talk about Shattenkirk, Thornton and Marleau. A pipedream? Probably, but a nice one.

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Joe Thornton ruined it when it was announced that he was going back to the Sharks. I think everyone just assumed Marleau would go back with Joe.

Then, after 19 seasons with the Sharks, it was announced that Marleau is joining the Maple Leafs.

Marleau signed a 3 year $18.75 million deal that breaks down as follows: $8.5 million in the first year, $6 million in the second and $4.25 million in the third. While some consider it a risk, signing Marleau signifies the Leafs are all in.

In my opinion, Patrick Marleau at age 37 continues to be a good hockey player.

All things considered, these moves signify a paradigm shift. Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello, Mike Babcock and the Leafs are making a statement.No doubt there are decisions yet to be made, however with the additions of Dominic Moore, Ron Hainsey and Patrick Marleau, the Maple Leafs are all in in their pursuit of the Stanley Cup.

Next: The Leafs Are Cup Contenders

Should the team keep JVR, they arguably have the best forward group in the NHL. If they trade JVR, they will be addressing a weakness at another position.  Patrick Marleau wants to win a Stanley Cup. His decision to sign with the Leafs shows his belief that the Leafs are closer than any other team which approached him during free agency.

Are the Leafs a Stanley Cup contenders? Pinch me, it’s for real.