3 Ways to Turn the Toronto Maple Leafs into Real Cup Contenders

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates getting the game-winning goal in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks with teammate Rasmus Sandin #38 at the United Center on October 27, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Maple Leafs defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - OCTOBER 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates getting the game-winning goal in overtime against the Chicago Blackhawks with teammate Rasmus Sandin #38 at the United Center on October 27, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. The Maple Leafs defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON – APRIL 13: Nick Robertson #89 of the Toronto Maple Leafs  . (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Develop a Low Pick into a Star

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written this same exact thing, but I’ll keep doing it until it happens: The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t developed a player they drafted after the first round into a star player since Tomas Kaberle in the late nineties.

Where would the Penguins have been without Letang, LA  without Quick, Chicago without Keith, Vancouver without Edler, Boston without Bergeron, Tampa without Point…..you get the picture.

You can only draft star players at the top of the draft for so long until you get too good. The Leafs got good so quickly that after they drafted Matthews they picked low five years in a row.   As of yet, none of their low picks are stars.

It’s great that maybe Sandin will be a star, but he is a first rounder. The Leafs desperately need someone from below the first round who isn’t expected to be a star to turn into a franchise quality player.

Almost every team I can find that was one of the NHL’s best for an extended run of seasons in the salary cap era has found the NHL equivalent of a wallet on the street chalk full of cash.

Obviously you can’t just make this happen, but right now the Leafs don’t even have a single prospect on their roster that fits these qualifications.  I’m not saying Mikahail Abramov or SDA are ready for the NHL, but who says they aren’t?  You can’t force it, but you can put more emphasis on finding a diamond in the rough.