The Toronto Maple Leafs have provided us many great individual seasons in over 100 years of history.
After the moves the Toronto Maple Leafs made this off-season, I’d expect a few players to have record breaking seasons this year. With limited playoff success, you may not remember that a few Leafs have provided some of the greatest seasons in team history over the last four years.
If you look back in Leafs history, the last few seasons have been filled with individual greatness. Starting with Auston Matthews’ Calder Trophy win in his rookie season, many players have continued to rack up success. We spend way too much time focusing on how much a player makes, instead of realizing how great they actually are.
When John Tavares joined the Leafs for $11M per season, some fans were ecstatic and some fans were outraged. How could you pay an aging player that much money for seven seasons when the team still needs defense. It seemed like cap-killing move to some, but people need to realize how special Tavares is.
In Tavares’ first season in the blue-and-white, he finished with 47 goals. In over 100 seasons of Maple Leafs hockey, that is the seventh best season of all-time. Only Frank Mahovlich, Rick Vaive, Gary Leeman and Dave Andreychuk had scored more goals than him in a single season and those guys were doing that when scoring 50 goals was common.
If you score over 40 goals in a season once in today’s NHL, you’re rewarded with a $9M per season contract (ie. Jeff Skinner, Buffalo Sabres).
One of the reasons why Tavares was able to have such an impact in his first year in Toronto was because of his line-mate Mitch Marner, who also had a breakout 2018-19 season. With 68 assists that year, Marner’s season ranks fourth all-time in Leafs history. Everyone and their dog wanted Marner traded for a defenseman a few months ago, without realizing that he’s one of the best playmakers the team has ever had.
Speaking of great seasons, Matthews was on-pace to have the best individual goal-scoring season in Leafs history before the pandemic shut everything down. With 47 goals in 70 games, Matthews was only a few short of Vaive’s record in the 1981-82 season when he scored 54. I know the three players I just mentioned make roughly $11M per season, but they’re worth it. (All stast from NHL.com and Hockeydb.com).
Let’s look at the top 10 best individual seasons in Leafs history: