The Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Mortgage Their Future

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a very clear window for success. While it’s generally a terrible idea to mortgage the future, it’s the move they need to make.

The  Toronto Maple Leafs, like all teams, collect both prospects and picks to prepare themselves to be competitive for years to come. The franchise, unlike some others, has had a difficult time maximizing on their collection of future assets.

With the Leafs poor development record and their current roster being as strong as it is, GM Kyle Dubas shouldn’t hesitate in using team assets to make needed upgrades prior to this year’s NHL trade deadline.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs struggling in goal, letting in at least four goals per game in six consecutive contests before the 25-year-old rookie netminder, Erik Kallgren, blanked the Dallas Stars on Tuesday, Dubas should be looking to acquire more goaltending.

In order to bring in a goalie more reliable than Jack Campbell or Petr Mrazek, the Leafs would need sell off part of their future. As worrisome as this idea may be, it is less problematic when considering the lack of success the franchise has had with developing their draft picks.

Time for the Toronto Maple Leafs to Mortgage Their Future

Toronto has drafted all-stars in the first-round which may lead some fans to believe that the organization has a reliable scouting staff. Unfortunately, beyond the first-round, it struggles to find a gem. Let’s look at the last five years for context.

In 2021, the Leafs drafted Matthew Knies in the second-round, Ty Voit in the fifth-round, and Vyacheslav Peksa in the sixth. It’s far too early to determine whether any may become NHL regulars, which is why we need to go back further for a clearer evaluation.

In 2020, Toronto selected 12 players. None of them have touched NHL ice, but few players outside the top ten make the NHL this quickly, but the Leafs are considered to have drafted well in this draft.

From 2019, Nick Robertson has played a total of 14 NHL games over two seasons and has recorded a goal and an assist in that time. It’s frankly amazing that he’s already in the NHL, considering he was the youngest player in his draft class, but the Maple Leafs should consider moving him as part of a package to maximize a return.

In 2018, the Leafs drafted 9 players. Two of them have  made the NHL, so far. Predictably, only the team’s first-rounder Rasmus Sandin has played for the Leafs. Toronto’s second-round selection, Sean Duruzi was traded to the Los Angeles Kings as part of the deal to acquire Jake Muzzin.

Duruzi played parts of three seasons for the Kings farm team, the Ontario Reign, where he had the chance to develop. As a result, he has played 44 games for the Kings this season. That’s more of a nod to Los Angeles than Toronto’s scouts. The same can be said about Carl Grundstrom, another Leafs second-rounder who was a part of the Muzzin exchange who has now played 113 games in the NHL. All of them were for the Kings.

In 2017, the Leafs followed their regular pattern. Their first-round pick, Timothy Liljegren, made it to the big club but none of their other selections have yet. We won’t even get into 2016, when the Leafs chose to ignore Alex DeBrincat’s 102 goals and 103 assists over two seasons with the Erie Otters in order to draft Egor Korshkov in the second-round.

If the Leafs cannot develop players outside of the first round, they shouldn’t be too concerned about trading away picks outside it. Dubas should be shopping right now with the aim to win a Stanley Cup this postseason.

Next. How Leafs Can Make a Splash at the Trade Deadline. dark

With the right moves, the Maple Leafs could make their way all the way to the Cup. They just need to be willing to sell off their future.