The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Currently Way Worse Than Last Year

Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the playoffs last season with the deepest team in the NHL.

The Toronto Maple Leafs had Ryan O’Reilly as their third-line centre, and they were scratching no-doubt top-four defenseman Timothy Liljegren and Erik Gustafsson, while Nick Robertson was injured, and Matthew Knies was in the press-box too.

The Stanley Cup favourites had four potential impact players on their bench.  They also had four elite scoring forwards, arguably the best overall blue-line in the NHL and were in competition for having the most star players.

They played Alex Kerfoot – who is a great defensive player who scores more at 5v5 than Max Domi – on their fourth line sometimes.  They had the year’s very best goalie in the world outside the NHL in Joseph Woll ready to come in in the playoffs.

The 2022-23 Leafs had such a great mix offence and defense, depth and stars that it just goes to show how random the Stanley Cup playoffs are – run into one hot goalie and you are done.

The 2023-23 Toronto Maple Leafs

The current version of the Leafs isn’t even close to what we saw last year.

First, we don’t know who their goalies are.

Second, they lost pretty much all their depth when Bunting, O’Reilly, Acciari, Kerfoot, Schenn, Kallgren, Holl, Aston-Reese, Gustafsson, and Simmonds went elsewhere.   That isn’t to say the Leafs should have overpaid to keep these guys, just that losing them makes the team worse.

That’s a player from every line, except for maybe their 3rd defensive pairing, although it’s hard to see them giving Marc Giordano a regular shift next year.

Stripped of their depth, the Leafs added Ryan Reeves.  He replaces Wayne Simmonds as the 13th forward, or represents a decline from Aston-Reese as the 12th forward, take your pick.  He is a crap player and it was a crap signing that showed very little understanding of how to operate in a Salary Cap League.

They added John Klingberg.  Is he better than Holl?  Not likely, but assuming Holl leaving. means Liljegren is promoted the Leafs get slightly better for more of the game, but Klingberg replacing the promoted Liljegren is a downgrade, so it’s hard to see this as an improvement.

In fact, John Klingberg kind of sucks and it was an awful signing.  How much do you find yourself missing Tyson Barrie?  He’s better than Klingberg.

If the Leafs actually use Klingberg in the top four they are much worse, as Justin Holl is a better overall player, like it or not.

Alex Kerfoot is better than Max Domi.  That isn’t my opinion, that is just a fact.

Tyler Bertuzzi might be better than Ryan O’Reilly who wasn’t all that good here, especially in the playoffs. I like the kind of game Bertuzzi brings to the top six, but the combination of Michael Bunting and Ryan O’Reilly is much better than just having Bertuzzi.

The Good News is that there is still several months before the season for the Leafs to improve their blue-line, add depth, solidify their goalies,  and add more stars.

Next. What Every Team Did in Free-Agency. dark

At this point, however, their depth is gone, they have less stars, and their team is indisputably worse in pretty much every way.