Why the Toronto Maple Leafs Will Win the Cup this Year
Reason #1: Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner
Matthews, a former Hart Trophy winner, enters his eighth season with the Leafs.
He looks to be completely healthy after battling multiple injuries in 2022-23 and looks determined to lead. Matthews is the de facto captain of this team.
It is his personality that is the face of the franchise. He is a center who plays every square inch of the ice and wants to be the guy. Matthews has asked for expanded duties and might even kill penalties. He’s a danger to score every time he hops over the boards and after many playoff failures, he is battle tested.
Also, Matthews signed a four-year extension and took less money than he could have received on the open market. It was a sign of leadership which will not go unnoticed by his teammates. Matthews wants to be a Leaf and he really wants to win in Toronto. That’s the kind of guy who rallies a team come playoff time.
Matthews long-time linemate and good buddy Marner, who could top 100 points for the first time in his career this season, is one of the best forwards in the NHL. Marner is as creative as they come.
A magician with the puck, who is more than willing to put his body in front of any shot if it means that his team will win. Marner is a vastly underrated player, who deserves more attention for the little things he does. He kills penalties, quarterbacks the power play and is one of the premier playmakers in the NHL.
Matthews and Marner are entering their prime. They’ve been through every possible kind of ending and have the mental scars to show for it. Players entering a season at their current ages and experience have shown tremendous growth.
The 2023-24 hockey calendar is when Marner and Matthews do their best Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews impressions circa 2010 to give the Leafs their first Cup in 57 years.