The Toronto Maple Leafs might win the Stanley Cup this year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are arguably the best team in the NHL, they just vastly outplayed the defending champs, and their roster is a near all-star team that shouldn’t even be possible in a Salary Cap League.
They might win. That’s true. But still….
The Leafs probably blew their best chance. They might win, but they’ll have to do it against bigger odds.
Toronto Maple Leafs Blew their Best Chance
The Leafs best chance to win was when Marner, Matthews and Nylander were on their entry level deals.
By having three of the best players in the NHL playing for next to nothing, the Leafs should have been able to stack their team in an effort to maximize their chances during this never-to-repeat-itself window.
Unfortunately, the horrible work of Lou Lamoriello and the existence of Patrick Marleau cost them their best chance.
Lamoriello signed Patrick Marleau to a ridiculous $6 million dollar contract back in 2017. Had the Leafs better spent this money, they could be Cup champions right now.
Not only did signing Marleau cost the Leafs in terms of the opportunity to acquire a better player for the same money, but playing him also cost them because he was terrible.
No amount of leadership makes up for what Marleau cost the Leafs.
Marleau was just not very good. Because of the deployment and power-play time, he was able to score 27 goals in his first year with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but he had a bad possession rating, and that amount of goals makes him sound better than he was.
In his second year, Marleau predictably, given his age, fell off a cliff. Despite being deployed like a top line forward all season long, Marleau scored at a lower 5v5 rate that noted offensive black hole Freddie Gauthier, while playing absolutely putrid defense. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Had the Toronto Maple Leafs properly spent the six million that went to Marleau, it’s crazy to think the kind of roster they could have iced. In addition to costing the team – with his salary and his bad play – Marleau cost the Leafs a first round pick just to get rid of him.
Now, it was right for Dubas to pay the price to get out of the contract, because Marleau is not even close to an NHL player anymore, and it made no sense to keep him on the team, but make no mistake, that lost first round pick sucks, and it’s on Lou Lamoriello.
If only that was the only damage done by the NHL’s worst general manager. Unfortunately, Lamoriello also gave Nikita Zaitsev a contract for five years at $4.5 annually.
This cost the Leafs in much the same way: opportunity cost, bad play, and paying to get out of the deal. Thanks to this horrendous move, the Leafs no longer have Connor Brown, and they are capped out, paying Cody Ceci $4.5 million.
yes, Lamoriello’s legacy is terrible and continues to haunt the team. One of the best days in Toronto Maple Leafs history was the day the Leafs fired him.
“They didn’t fire him,” is what his defenders say, but we know, for a fact, that Lamoriello wanted to stay on as Leafs GM and wasn’t allowed to.
Doesn’t matter how polite you want to be about it, he was fired.
And, he deserved to be, because he has joined Brian Burke and John Ferguson Jr in the almost limitless pantheon of horrible Leafs general managers.
But for blowing the Leafs best ever chance at a Cup, which was last season, he might just go down as the worst ever.