The Toronto Maple Leafs Have Just One Player to Fear

Broken Toronto Maple Leafs hockey stick (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
Broken Toronto Maple Leafs hockey stick (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

In this unique season it only makes sense that the Toronto Maple Leafs would have an unexpected worry. There is one player who can give the team nightmares.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing great hockey this year in the North Division. Statistically, the math says they’re on their way to a first seed. With that comes the challenge that the team has struggled with for far too long, getting out of the first round.

As the season draws to a close, it’s looking more and more likely that the Maple Leafs are headed into a first round matchup against the Montreal Canadiens.

It will be a welcome series that may reignite the spark that had these two franchises pitted against each other as bitter rivals for years. It could therefore be problematic if the Habs turned their season around and started playing their best hockey heading down the home stretch and into the playoffs.

Toronto Maple Leafs Fear Just One Player

The biggest problem plaguing Montreal has been their inability to put pucks in the net. With the exception of Scarborough, Ontario native Tyler Toffoli, the Habs are lacking firepower. They rely mostly on Toffoli for production and he hasn’t disappointing. This season, in  44 games, he’s recorded 25 goals and 11 assists. The problem for the Maple Leafs is that the Canadiens made a move their fans were clambering for all season, they brought a sniper into their lineup.

Montreal just brought up their top prospect, Cole Caufield. This 20-year old right-winger specializes in finding twine. In 31 games for the University of Wisconsin this season, he racked up 30 goals and 22 assists. Caufield also played for Montreal’s AHL affiliate, the Laval Rocket. With them, he played in only two games but scored three times and added a helper. He is exactly what the Canadiens need at just the right time.

This should be a concern for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Caufield has a stretch of regular season games to get acclimated to the NHL and find his footing before the postseason. If Caufield is able to come anywhere close to replicating what he’s been able to do at any other level, it completely changes the dynamic of the Habs play.

Having competed in just one contest in the NHL thus far against the Calgary Flames, the Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme showed that he was going to get the most out of his newest player. In that debut game, Ducharme didn’t ease Caufield into the game. He threw him right into the fire, putting him on the ice for 18 shifts for a total of 15:40 of ice time. In his second game, he faced the Leafs where he was trusted with 20 shifts and 13:59 minutes. There is no doubt that the Habs recognize just how important Caufield could be to their success. Whether he can be a Leafs slayer remains to be seen.

Next. Jason Spezza and the Leafs are Hockey Heroes. dark

Should the Maple Leafs meet Montreal in the first round, the Buds will still be the heavy favourites. If Caufield is able to reach his potential in lightning quick fashion then it could very well send shivers down the spines of the Leafs and their fans.