Toronto Maple Leafs Need Young Players to Step Up in 2023-24

Oct 20, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Nicholas Robertson (89) scores a goal and celebrates against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 20, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Nicholas Robertson (89) scores a goal and celebrates against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to develop a few prospects if they want to ever win the Stanley Cup.

If you can criticize the Toronto Maple Leafs for anything under the stewardship of Brendan Shanahan dating back to the end of the Dave Nonis Era, it’s failing to develop any star players outside the top ten in the draft.

In a salary cap league, you simply have to have contributions from players on entry-level deals or you will never be able to ice a winner.  The Leafs had a great team this past year, but imagine how good they would have been if they had even one league-minimum player contributing?

Outside of Michael Bunting (whose value was astounding the last two seasons) the Leafs didn’t have a sub-million dollar player crack 20 points.

The Leafs enter this off-season with just under $14.8 million in projected cap space next season.(capfriendly.com).

This is with the assumption that defenceman Jake Muzzin will be on long-term injured reserve (LTIR) and without any supplemental trades made.

This would also leave them with only seven forwards, six defencemen, and two goalies.

That means in order to fill out an 18-skater roster, they would need to acquire at least six more forwards. Leaving them with an average of $2.466 million per player (which isn’t actually too bad, but you figure they’d like to add a star or two).

It is not enough cap to get high quality additions and it would mean they’d walk away from players like Ryan O’Reilly or Ilya Samsonov. Brad Treliving has his work cut out for him as he attempts to assemble the 2023-24 Maple Leafs roster.

Toronto Maple Leafs Prospects

One easy way to alleviate cap concerns however, is through promoting young players, either on entry-level contracts or cheap two-way deals to full-time NHL roles.

Luckily, the Leafs have plenty of candidates to choose from.