How Well Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Match Up Against Other Atlantic Teams?

With Free Agent Frenzy come and gone, we can now more accurately predict what next season may look like for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Do the Leafs have what it takes to win their division?
Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs
Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

Lots has changed in the NHL and with the Toronto Maple Leafs over the past few weeks.

The Edmonton Oilers almost pulled off the greatest comeback in hockey history (but the Toronto Maple Leafs maintained their greatest record) Macklin Celebrini was drafted first overall, and many superstars signed deals with new teams.

In the case of the Leafs, the most significant thing that happened to them (aside from the draft and free agency) was see an Atlantic Division team make the Stanley Cup Final for the sixth year in a row. Even more so, this year's representative from the Eastern Conference, the Florida Panthers, went on to win their first championship in team history.

It's no secret the Atlantic Division has been the most competitive division in the entire NHL. But with a different looking roster, how well do the Leafs match up with their rivals this season?

How Well Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Match Up Against Other Atlantic Teams?

Group 1: The Division Basement

The Atlantic Division has gotten so competitive, only one of the eight teams can truly be pencilled in to miss the playoffs. That being the Montreal Canadiens.

To their credit, the Habs have a very bright future ahead of them, but more than likely won't compete for a playoff spot until at least 2026. The Leafs should have no problem finishing ahead of the Canadiens next year.

Group 2: The Playoff Bubble

Next up we have an interesting group of teams who together take up spots 1, 2, and 3 on the NHL's longest active playoff drought rankings. Those of course being the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators (in that order).

All three of these teams have been in long, hard rebuilds, but all have exciting groups of young players, and some have even come close to a playoff spot in recent years.

The Sabres were one win away from surpassing the Florida Panthers (that year's finalist) in the 2023 playoffs, and in 2024, had the Red Wings earned one more point during the season, they would've qualified for the postseason.

While all three of these teams have a shot at the playoffs, it's safe to say the Leafs will likely finish ahead of all every one of them.

Group 3: The Playoff Locks

Next up are the perennial playoff teams, the Boston Bruins, the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the Florida Panthers. All of these teams have made the finals since in the past six years, and since 2020, all three teams have been in every single postseason.

One team on the clear decline is the Tampa Bay Lightning, who not only have been eliminated from the playoffs in the first round in back-to-back years, but are also icing one of their weakest lineups in their recent history.

Despite adding Jake Guentzel, the Lightning have a fairly weak bottom-nine forward group, as well as losing their captain. While the Lightning are still likely making the playoffs, it's a safe bet the Leafs will finish ahead of them.

That leaves the Bruins and Panthers, both of which finished ahead of the Leafs during the 2023-24 regular season. The Bruins did improve their team during free agency, but so did the Leafs, and while Florida may have lost a few key pieces in the offseason, they're still the defending Stanley Cup Champions and have won the Atlantic Division twice in the past three years.

If I had to make a guess, I would say the Leafs finish second in the division, ahead of the Bruins and behind Florida.

But the top three of the Atlantic is so tight and really can go either way.


With that being said, it's going to be an exciting 2024-25 NHL season, especially in the Atlantic.