Toronto Maple Leafs: Depth Problems Abound With Missing Stars

TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Patrick Marleau
TORONTON, ON - JANUARY 6: Patrick Marleau /

The Toronto Maple Leafs looked awfully thin last night.

Taking on the Calgary Flames, the Toronto Maple Leafs played the most boring game possible.  It was hard to watch, zero fun and illustrated their frustrating lack of depth.

With Auston Matthews out a month with a shoulder injury, and Travis Dermott (I am assuming) still sick, the Leafs were in tough against a recently embarrassed Flames team that is a starting goalie away from being one of the best teams in hockey.

The Leafs were painfully boring to watch last night, and with three of their better players absent, their lineup was exposed for its lack of depth.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are a Top-Heavy Team

The Leafs are a top heavy team. They’ve got their stars, but the depth falls off fast.

The Leafs have Matthews, Tavares, Kadri, Nylander, Matthews, Kapanen, Rielly, Gardiner, Dermott and Andersen.  You could probably justifiably include Hyman on that list, but after that they are a really thin team.

Patrick Marleau? He’s been awful and if he wasn’t “PATRICK MARLEAU, HALL OF FAMER”
he most likely wouldn’t even be in the NHL right now.  He is still great on the power-play, but otherwise, he’s done like a roast turkey on Thanksgiving.

Connor Brown? He belongs on a fourth line, at best.  So, so incredibly overrated it’s not funny.

Frederick Gauthier? Not an NHL player.

Ron Hainsey, Par Lindholm, Ozhiganov, Tyler Ennis, Martin Marincin, and Andreas Johnson are either fringe NHL players or playing like it.

When you have nine or ten players that either shouldn’t be in the NHL or have played so that they deserve at least a healthy-scratch, you’re not a deep team.

Now don’t get me wrong, I remain extremely optimistic about the Leafs.  From Matthews through Andersen *see above list* they are one of the best teams in hockey.  Their high-end talent is the best in the league, and, if fully healthy, they can hide their lack of depth pretty well.

But take away Matthews, Dermott and Nylander and it’s a really normal team with a roster that would be hard-pressed to make the playoffs.

Gotta Wrap up This Nylander Thing

The Toronto Maple Leafs need to get Nylander back in the lineup.  Not just because they’re obviously better with one of the NHL’s best wingers on board (worth every single dollar he’s asking for, by the way) but because they need their GM concentrating on other things.

Without first knowing what Nylander costs, the Leafs can’t really go around adding salary and making changes.  One thing clearly has to follow the other.

It’s a long season, so I guess there is no rush, but the fact that Matthews and Marner are cheap for this one last year means the Leafs will never have a better chance to win than they do this year.  This is the unanimous opinion of everyone who understands how the salary cap works.

So, what to do?  Well Sam Gagner is playing for the Marlies and he’s sure as hell better than Par Lindholm as a third line centre.  The Leafs may want to call up Timothy Liljegren, in a sheltered role on the third pairing where his talent can shine through, he’d really help – the right side is that much of  a mess.

How to Fix Leafs Depth Problems. dark. Next

Andreas Borgman should be here.

But other than that, the Leafs need Nylander so they can use their draft picks and prospects to bring in immediate help.  And if you’re the kind of person who balks at trading picks and prospects, I’d take a vacation because you are not going to like what happens at the trade deadline (or, hopefully, sooner).