The Toronto Maple Leafs have a several problems that are pretty obvious: an old, unphysical blue-line with little upside, a ton of injuries and no depth or elite players anyways.
In addition, the Toronto Maple Leafs GM has been a disaster, their President didn’t spend any time searching for a new GM even though the change was a completely on-the-fly spur-of-the-moment type thing, and the coach is getting no help since the bottom-six is populated with 2 x one-dimensional players, a PTO, and an enforcer that make it really hard to create a workable lineup.
But unlike other teams in the NHL that are struggling, the Leafs aren’t likely to get any better with time.
The Oilers are going to improve when McDavid and Draisaitl inevitably get back to their normal selves. The Penguins numbers say they will get a better results going forward, and even the Senators are bound to improve as the season goes on.
Therein lies the Leafs problem.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Problem No One Is Talking About
Last year the Leafs were the NHL’s best team in November, and they nicely rebounded from an early season slump that has people optimistic about their current record.
Only one problem:
The Leafs are maxed out.
Auston Matthews is scoring over a goal per game. Even if he could somehow sustain such amazing production, he certainly can’t improve upon it. If he did he’d crack Gretzkey’s all-time record for goals in a single season – that’s how good he’d have to be to actually. be better than he is now.
Mitch Marner, after a slowish start, is tied for the seventh highest point total in the league, and he’s behind William Nylander who is playing the best hockey of his career.
John Tavares is over a point-per-game and makes the 4th Leafs player in the top 25 in NHL scoring. Additionally, Morgan Rielly is playing like playoff Rielly, Matthew Knies is succeeding on the top line, and Joseph Woll has been more or less great.
The Toronto Maple Leafs best players are playing about as well as it is possible for them to play, and the team is barely in a playoff spot.
That is a massive indictment against the rest of the team. It makes improving from within almost impossible. If your best players are all playing great and you still suck, you have to ask yourself some tough questions.
That’s just the way it is.
The Leafs probably cannot expect their best players to be quite this good for any extended period of time. It’s just not realistic. And that means that those players need an actual team behind them.
As long as the Leafs are dressing Marc Giordano and John Klingberg as integral parts of their lineup, they are going nowhere. As long as their fourth line gives away about a half-goal per game, they aren’t going to win that many games, and who could? (stats espn.com).
As long as they have a blue-line that doesn’t have any physical players, they are going nowhere. Jake McCabe has been unbelievably brutal when he’s played. He’s over 30 and a major improvement isn’t likely. Ryan Reaves can’t play, Domi and Kampf are expensive and one-dimensional.
The Leaf blue-line is so bad that TJ Brodie’s decline has basically gone unnoticed, and same thint with Calle Jarnkrok, one game not withstanding.
Obviously the Toronto Maple Leafs have problems, but the one thing no one is talking about is that their best players can’t play any better, and that means big changes are needed in season or they will miss the playoffs.