The Toronto Maple Leafs have seen many great players over the years.
From Doug Gilmour, to Daryl Sittler to Dave Keon, there are many candidates for the Title of Best Toronto Maple Leafs Player of All-Time.
On the current roster, Auston Matthews is by far the best player, and it’s career that in a couple of years he is going to easily be the best player to ever where the blue and white.
But until Matthews plays a few more years in the NHL, the title still belongs to someone else.
Best Player in Toronto Maple Leafs History
If there was social media back in 1994, Mats Sundin would probably have more in common with William Nylander than Swedish ancestry.
The best player in Leafs history was acquired for perhaps the most popular – Wendel Clark.
During his time in a Leafs uniform – 13 seasons – Sundin never received the proper respect owed to someone who is the best player in the history of an original six franchise.
For whatever reason, the Leafs fanbase has always venerated the blue collar worker-type player. They overrated Clark because he hit and fought, while they appreciated Gilmour for his tenacity and determination.
Sundin was a 6’5 giant who didn’t need to smash people to create room for himself. He didn’t hit or fight, and he really didn’t show much emotion on the ice.
This led of course to ridiculous takes about his leadership, his determination, and effort level.
Growing up, I remember so many people, all of them Leafs fans, complaining about Sundin’s effort; how he was a bad captain and ‘no Gilmour.’
The fact is, small players who succeed always seem to be trying harder than big players. Players who hit, fight or get emotional look like they are trying harder. It’s not true.
Sundin was 6’5 and was so talented, the things he did looked effortless. For this crime, he was punished by never getting the love and respect from his team’s fans that he rightfully earned.
With 987 points, Mats Sundin is the all-time leading scorer in Toronto Maple Leafs history. (quanthockey.com).
With 420 goals, he is the all time leading goal-scorer as well.
Sundin is one of only nine members of the Toronto Maple Leafs to have scored over a point per game. He is eighth all-time on the team points per game list, but the only player on it to have played during the Dead Puck Era.
The Leafs acquired Mats Sundin after the lockout shortened 94-95 season, the first season to see a precipitous decline in scoring.
Literally every player who has scored more per game in a Leafs uniform than Sundin played during a time when it was easier to score. That includes Sittler, Gilmour, Tavares and Matthews.
Sundin is the all-time goals, points, power-play goals, 5v5 goals, and game-winning goals leader in Toronto Maple Leafs history.
He is second in assists, and third in short-handed goals.
Despite the obvious lack of a championship – not his fault – he is the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs player of all-time. With apologies to Sittler, Keon and Gilmour, only Matthews is even close in terms of talent, while no one is close (yet) in terms of accomplishment.
Sundin is the best player, and captain in team history.