The Toronto Maple Leafs are struggling this season, despite having some of the franchise’s top players ever skating in the prime of their careers. Sure, injuries have sometimes thinned the platoon of depth players available, and the goaltending has been ugly at times, but the talent level at the top of the roster should be enough to overcome those hurdles.
Given the Toronto Maple Leafs very average 24-14-8 record (stats from hockeydb.com), some of the individual stats put up by their star players are actually impressive.
Auston Matthews leads the NHL with 39 goals and is roughly on pace to notch 70 for the season. William Nylander has 61 points and sits within the league top-10. Mitch Marner has already hit the 20 goal and 50 point marks. Morgan Rielly is on pace for a 68 point year, which would tie his career best.
On the goalie front, despite some memorably horrid performances between the pipes, Toronto’s team save percentage is actually middle of the pack so far. Similarly, the team’s blueliners (other than Rielly) could certainly use an upgrade, but can hardly be blamed entirely for this year’s lack of success.
Toronto Maple Leafs Are Missing Key Ingredients
Clearly, something intangible is missing from this group of underachievers. The whole is less than the sum of its parts.
There are certain former Toronto Maple Leafs who could remedy that. And, no, I’m not referring to the likes of Michael Bunting or Ryan O’Reilly. I’m looking a little farther back in time.
Sure, this is just a bit of fantasy, but is that any different than hoping that GM Brad Treliving will manage to land a top pairing defenseman or another NHL level goalie? I think not.
I present to you 4 ex-Maple Leafs who would elevate today’s team to contender status: