The Toronto Maple Leafs are in the midst of wasting another of the prime years of three of the best players they’ve had in the history of their hundred-year-old franchise.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been blowing leads and, when they do win, they are not doing so convincingly.
They have obvious problems (they need three defenseman, an elite defenseman, a third-line centre, a usable fourth line that doesn’t cost a fortune, maybe a first-line winger, and maybe a goalie), and they won’t be able to address them all this season.
But there is no reason for Doom and Gloom.
The defense is horrendous, and features between one and four unplayable players on any given night. Not only does the blue-line lack elite players, depth and physicality, it also has shown that it can’t move the puck well enough to help out the elite forwards on the team.
This is indisputably true.
But the Leafs are in a playoff spot, and that shows that they have at least some penchant for overcoming their problems. When Matthews and Marner start playing like Matthews and Marner consistently, they are going going to win the vast majority of games where they get adequate goaltending.
This team, as flawed as it is, could easily win the Stanley Cup if they get randomly get access to a hot goalie at the right time – much, much worse teams have done it.
With star players, the team has a chance to win every night, and the Leafs aren’t far from being great.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Extreme Optimism Warranted
Once the Leafs have clarity on whether or not Klingberg can play again this year (hopefully not because otherwise they’ll have to pay someone to take him) they may have $4 million in cap space to help improve their team.
If they could include Brodie or Kampf or Jarnkrok in a deal, they could theoretically afford basically anyone who might be available. That’s not to say they will, but that they have options if they want to get creative.
Brad Treliving said at his press conference today, that you can’t always trade your way out of trouble.
Except, sometimes you have to.
Whether it’s MacKenzie Weegar (who may not be a no-doubt superstar but is elite) or someone else, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to acquire a top-of-the-lineup defenseman. This would push everyone on the team down a notch, and that, as much as the new player, would do wonders for this team.
Suddenly, with Weegar in the fold, Morgan Rielly is your second best defenseman. Liljegren and McCabe form a reasonable second pairing, and then you have the rest of the year to work on finding a good third pairing, but at least the team would have some form of depth.
When you see what a struggling and obviously flawed Leafs team can do, it makes the prospect of adding an elite defenseman into a mouthwatering proposition.
Whatever mistakes he made so far will fade into distant memory if he can add a legitimate number-one defenseman that will turn Morgan Rielly into a near league-best number-two.
This team would look absolutely incredible with a top-of-the-lineup defenseman, and all their depth and goaltending issues will just fade way the second they make the deal.
The Leafs have some issues, but it’s a cap-league and all teams do. If they add a top defenseman, everything else will fall into place. Essentially, they are one player away.
This is why Toronto Maple Leafs fans should be positive despite the fact that the franchise looks to be struggling both on and off the ice.