The Toronto Maple Leafs could use some grit to balance out their skill.
When it comes to skill, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a top-five team in the NHL, but that’s not going to win you a Stanley Cup, according to many pundits who consider the ultimate version of hockey to have occurred sometime in early 1976.
The Leafs are going to have to make some moves this off-season. Highlighted by the potential departure of Freddie Andersen, or the necessary need to upgrade their defense, there’s some (mostly unfounded) speculation that the Leafs are going to look a lot different next season.
It doesn’t matter if the Toronto Maple Leafs win every regular season game then lose in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. Every year that ends without the Leafs lifting the Stanley Cup will be considered a failure in fan’s eyes. That logic isn’t very smart, when you think about it, because it’s so hard to win a Stanley Cup. The amount of luck that has to happen in a two-month span to win a championship is insane in hockey.
Every single player can make an impact and at any given moment. The fourth-line player can score a game-winning goal or a mediocre goaltender can save 99 percent of the shots he sees. In order for a team to win the Stanley Cup, they need to get passed all of those potential roadblocks.
Despite luck playing a huge factor, you can eliminate as much chance by putting together the best team possible. The 2002 Detroit Red Wings are a great example of this. No matter what obstacle you put in front of that team, they were going to win the Stanley Cup because of how strong they were.
Even the current Tampa Bay Lightning team seems to be on that path, despite having major disappointments in two of the last three seasons. So in order to eliminate as much luck, the Leafs could use the modern Wendel Clark to improve their team and help them get over the edge
Leafs Land Tom Wilson in Hypothetical Trade
- Toronto Maple Leafs acquire: Tom Wilson ($5.16M), Nick Jensen ($2.5M), 2020 1st Round Pick, 2021 2nd Round Pick
- Washington Capitals acquire: Mitch Marner ($10.93M),
The Capitals currently have $10 million in cap-space and assuming they let Braden Holtby walk, they’ll have a ton of money to improve their roster.
This trade is insane in so many ways, which is why it’s so fun to talk about. The Leafs would never make this deal, but for the package in return you never know. Marner is a future 100-point scorer in the NHL and could make the Hall-of-Fame one day, while Wilson has never scored more than 44 points in a season.
Hear me out, though.
When it comes to playoff hockey, every team in the NHL would love to have Wilson. During the Capitals Stanley Cup run in 2018, Wilson had five goals and 15 points in 21 playoff games. Not only could he score but he was an intimidating force who could hit or fight and provide a huge spark to his team.
As a Toronto native, Wilson would not only be a fan-favorite, but you’d have to imagine his play would improve even more playing at home. Marner is an unbelievable talent and would probably have 75-80 assists paired beside Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznestov. For all we know, he could seriously compete for the Art Ross trophy, but the Leafs have more than enough offense with Auston Matthews, William Nylander and John Tavares. Wilson could score 25-30 goals beside Matthews or Tavares and be that playoff-player you desperately need.
With a limited window left before Ovechkin retires, Marner would could be instrumental in helping the “Great Eight” break Wayne Gretzky’s goal record, while Wilson could be the perfect intimidating force in Toronto. For those fans that love the grit and grind of Zach Hyman, just imagine how much they’d love Wilson.
We all know this trade would never happen for one million reasons, but it’s fun to talk about. This trade wouldn’t even get improved in a video game but the thought of having Tom Wilson on the Leafs one day is something I’d love to see happen.