Toronto Maple Leafs: All-Toronto line (GTA Included)

TORONTO, ON - JULY 1: The jersey of John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs, hangs in the Toronto Maple Leafs' dressing room, after Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, at the Scotiabank Arena on July 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JULY 1: The jersey of John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs, hangs in the Toronto Maple Leafs' dressing room, after Tavares signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs, at the Scotiabank Arena on July 1, 2018 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs 1st/2nd line has three players from Toronto or the GTA: Tavares, Marner, and Hyman (TMH).

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a line with three skilled forwards that were born in Toronto, all three of which likely grew up dreaming of the day they’d see the Toronto Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup.  That line is Tavares, Marner, and Hyman (TMH).

While they aren’t the only players in the Leafs organization who grew up near Toronto –Nazem Kadri, London Ontario, Connor Brown, Toronto Ontario and Josh Leivo, Innisfil Ontario, all grew up in or around Toronto too (to name a few) – it’s nice to see that hockey programs in Canada are still developing world class athletes, and that some of those players are currently dedicated members of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

This article focuses on TMH, and briefly analyzes each of their NHL careers thus far before predicting how they will perform together as a trio on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tavares, Marner, and Hyman’s careers thus far

John Tavares

Tavares has a longer NHL resume than Hyman and Marner combined, so I’ll briefly analyze his career first.  Tavares has played 9 seasons in the league, all with the New York Islanders.  In that time he has reached the post season 3 times, and accumulated an NHL career total of 621 points in 669 regular seasons games (272 goals, 349 assists).  Plus an additional 22 points in 24 playoff games (11 goals, 11 assists).  The advanced stats available on hockey-reference.com show that with the exception of his rookie season, Tavares has always posted positive corsi numbers at even strength relative to his team.

Put differently, while Tavares was putting up numbers at nearly a point per game pace from 2009/10 – 2017/18, he was basically putting the entire Islanders organization in a backpack and carrying them on his shoulders.

More pucks always founds their way to the opposing net with Tavares on the ice than they did, without him.

For that reason, it seems like the Islanders only ever went as far in a season and/or post-season as Tavares could take them.  Now that Tavares is at the prime of his career and in a new environment where all the pressure for success isn’t on him, he has a chance to truly thrive in this well managed Toronto Maple Leafs organization under Brendan Shanahan and Mike Babcock.

Mitch Marner

Marner led the Leafs in scoring last year after he had an amazing turn around to his second season.  Currently, he has 130 points (41 goals, and 89 assists) in 159 NHL regular season games.  And another 13 points (3 goals, 10 assists) in 13 playoff games.

I’ve seen Marner play more than Tavares, so I can comfortably write about him and his wizardry with the puck without having to look up advanced possession metrics again.

When Marner is feeling confident and moving the puck the way he wants to, he is a force on the ice and there isn’t much opposing defenders can do to stop him.

I’m expecting Mitch to have a breakout campaign with Tavares as his scoring centre and Hyman getting in on the boards and doing the dirty work necessary to set Marner up to make plays.

Zach Hyman

Last and not least, Zach Hyman brings in the physical element that this line needs to be successful.

He isn’t there to score a lot.  He’s there to go in to the boards and win puck battles and pass the puck back out to the defense or forwards so the Leafs can start their cycle game.  And Hyman is amazing at filling that role on the team.

His gritty style is physical, but not dirty.

In 180 Regular season games spread over 3 seasons (i.e., 2 consecutive 82 game seasons and a 16 game stint in 2015/16), Hyman has only accumulated 85 penalty minutes.  In that same time Hockey-Reference.com says Hyman has thrown 257 hits, and scored 74 points (29 goals, 45 assists).

Decent stats for a player whose primary role is puck retrieval and winning battles along the boards.  Next season I predict that Hyman will continue to thrive in that role and consequently he will set Tavares and Marner up for a lot of scoring chances.

What’s next for Tavares, Marner, and Hyman (TMH)?

After an initial feeling out process (10-20 games of figuring out each other’s play style), I predict a high level of offensive success that results in career years for all three players.

Tavares is going to go above 80 points again for the 4th time in his career, and score at least 87 points to surpass his career best of 86 points, (38 goals, 48 assists) set back in 2014/15).

Marner is going to go above 70 points and surpass his previous career best of 69 points (22 goals, 47 assists) set in 2017/18.  He’ll do this by scoring roughly the same number of goals, however, adding at least 10 to his assist totals with Tavares there to finish the plays he creates.

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Hyman is going to be a wrecking ball on skates.  His success isn’t going to be measured by how many goals he scores, but rather by how effectively he forechecks and hounds opposing back checkers.

Thanks for reading!

Questions: Which line are you most excited for after the Toronto Maple Leafs training camp?  Do you think Tavares, Marner and Hyman will ‘click’ instantly, or will there be a feeling out process that could lead to a slow start to their seasons?  Who would you put on Tavares wings if you were the Leafs head coach?