Simulation Series Part 1: Can The Current Toronto Maple Leafs Core Win A Cup?

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 7, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 7: Jason Spezza #19 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates a goal against the Anaheim Ducks during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 7, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Ducks 5-4 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON – FEBRUARY 11: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for a faceoff against the Arizona Coyotes during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on February 11, 2020 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Coyotes 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Year One Results

So, it didn’t go great.

The Toronto Maple Leafs amassed a record of 36-35-11 in the 2019-2020 season, finishing outside of the playoff race with 83 points (6th in the Atlantic Division). John Tavares and Auston Matthews led the team with 86 points (46 goals) and 83 points (38 goals), respectively.

No other player recorded over 20 goals, though Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Ilya Mikheyev came close (18, 17, 17 respectively). The Marlies also did not qualify for the postseason.

Freddy Andersen appeared in 70 games in total (31 wins, 27 losses, 9 overtime losses, 5 shutouts).

Fan-beloved backup Jack Campbell appeared in 18 games, notching a 5-9-2 record in his starts.

Neither netminder did great on the stat sheet, Andersen recorded a .905 save percentage and a 2.90 goals against average, while Campbell had a .891 save percentage and 3.34 GAA. Improvements will need to be made in this area for the team to find success.

Injuries were not really a factor in this season, only Justin Holl and Alex Kerfoot exited the lineup, missing 6 and 4 games respectively. The problem with this season (in both the simulation and reality) was in the defensive end. None of the defencemen had a positive +/- rating, and of the forwards, only John Tavares and Mitch Marner had a plus rating above +5.

Changes will be coming, both behind the bench and in the lineup for next season.

Trades

As per my self-imposed rules, I made no major trades during the season. In fact, the only trade I made was on October 22nd, Cody Ceci and the signing rights to goalie Zachary Bouthillier went to the Anaheim Ducks for a 3rd round pick in 2020 and a 4th round pick in 2021.

There was an opportunity to claim Julius Honka on waivers from Dallas in January, however, I did not take the option, again due to the rule of not hanging the real-life roster during this season.

Around the league, it was a very quiet trade deadline.

On January 15th, Joe Thornton went to Dallas along with a 2021 3rd round pick in exchange for goalie Anton Khudobin and a pair of 2021 draft picks (2nd and 5th).

On February 17th, Thornton and the same 2021 3rd were on the move again, this time to Calgary with left-winger Mattias Janmark in tow in exchange for the Flames’ 1st round pick in 2020 and goalie prospect Dustin Wolf.

The only other major trade occurred on February 4th between Boston and Vancouver. The Bruins acquired Chris Tanev, a 2020 3rd round pick, and prospect Reid Boucher in exchange for center prospect Jack Studnicka and John Moore.

Playoff Results and Awards

The Tampa Bay Lightning are the 2020 Stanley Cup Champions.

Their run to the cup included a five-game series victory over the up-and-coming New York Rangers, a hard-fought seven game war with the Bruins.

What followed was another five-game series over a Flyers team that had swept their previous two opponents and culminated it with a sweep over the Minnesota Wild, who made the finals in a surprising series of upsets over the Avalanche (four games), Blues (five games) and Flames (seven games).

The Calgary Flames narrowly clinched the President’s Trophy with 108 points, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia tied for second place with 106. Of the major awards, most went as you would expect, however, there were a few surprises:

  • Art Ross Trophy: Connor McDavid (111 points)
  • Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award & Lady Byng Trophy: Claude Giroux
  • James Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman
  • Calder Trophy: Cale Makar
  • Conn Smythe Trophy: Steven Stamkos
  • Vezina Trophy: Devin Dubnyk
  • William M. Jennings Trophy: David Rittich
  • Frank J. Selke Trophy: Anze Kopitar
  • Maurice Richard Trophy: Brad Marchand (51 goals)

Up Next For The Toronto Maple Leafs

That’s all for now, a disappointing first effort for sure, but my resolve is not shaken.

Next. The Secret to the Leafs So-Called Cap Problems. dark

I believe in the Toronto Maple Leafs and our mission to win a cup is nowhere near complete. Next time, we’ll cover the draft lottery, off-season and then a full simulation of years two and three!