The Toronto Maple Leafs had four players represent the organization in the 2024 All-Star Game, and Auston Matthews highlighted that list of names. It goes without saying that Matthews must bring his A-Game from now until the regular season ends in mid-April if the Maple Leafs hope to maximize their place in the Atlantic Division and in the Eastern Conference.
The same goes for Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly, and William Nylander, so you won’t see their names on the list below. Instead, we’re focusing on players with the potential to provide an outstanding supporting cast for those listed above, starting with the team captain.
John Tavares must find a way to get close to his output from last season
John Tavares has yet to find a way to come close to the 80 points and 36 goals he scored last season, and he is well under a point per game here in 2023-24. While it’s true that Tavares’ best days are behind him, he’s still more than capable of producing better than the numbers he’s put up so far this season.
That being said, his edge on defense is still there, and he’s roughly on pace to at least come close to last year in terms of getting in front of shooting lanes, knocking around opponents, and stealing the puck. His 61.9 faceoff win percentage is trending toward an all-time high, and his 18:18 average total ice time is the highest it’s been since 2019-20.
If Tavares can start finding the back of the net again and the likes of Matthews, Marner, Rielly, and Nylander keep producing at least near their current levels, the Maple Leafs will be tough to beat for the remainder of the season. But Tavares is just one of five players, both offensively and defensively, who must bring the best version of themselves down the stretch.