The Toronto Maple Leafs are an excellent team with solid credentials.
Despite perpetually failing in the playoffs, this version of the Toronto Maple Leafs is one of the best versions of the team in its history.
They have made the playoffs seven years in a row, and been a top-tier elite team for four of those years. Their current coach is one of the all-time winningest NHL coaches by points-percentage, and they have three of the best players in franchise history in their primes.
I could go on for hours (and have) about how unlucky this team has been, but I think deep down everyone reading this already knows that it shouldn’t even be statistically possible to lose 11 elimination games in a row.
So even though I’ve spent a lot of time recently bashing the team’s recent moves (because I don’t think spending $11 million on replacement players is wise, and because I think the blue-line is weak) here is a list of reasons to be positive about the Leafs this season.
Reasons to be Optimistic About the Toronto Maple Leafs
The first reason to be optimistic is that Auston Matthews is healthy, and Mitch Marner clearly hasn’t had his career best season yet.
What is more likely, that the Leafs have the two worst best players of all-time or that a large portion of their lack of post-season success is just luck based?
There is every reason to believe that a healthy Matthews can score near a goal-per-game and finish with 70-something. If that occurs, a 150 point season from Marner is also a possibility.
The NHL is a star-driven league and if the Leafs get career years from their two franchise players, the sky is the limit on what they can achieve.
Furthermore, Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov both have high-upside and either one of them could go on the kind of Vezina-worthy run this team has been desperate for over their current window of opportunity.
A third reason to be excited about this team is their youth. Not only are Minten, Cowen, Knies and Robertson all on the verge of being impact NHL players, they also have the likes of Niemela, Kokkonen, Steeves, Abruzzese, Hirvonen and Holmberg.
Not all will work out, but there might be a star or two in this group and that’s extremely exciting.
Finally, I think another reason to be optimistic is roster flexibility. The Leafs can deal Nylander if they decide they need a top pairing defenseman. They signed Bertuzzi, Domi and Klingberg to one-year deals, so if those signings don’t work out, it won’t be hard to clear cap-space and call an audible at the trade deadline.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are a Cup Contender for sure, and there is a reason to doubt the abilities of Boston (retirement) Florida (Injuries) and Tampa (injuries). The Atlantic Division is theirs for the taking. Hold onto your butts.