Port Side Production Is Not Matching Potential For the Toronto Maple Leafs

Consistent goal-scoring from the Leafs left-wingers has been a season-long problem.

Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs
Anaheim Ducks v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Before the start of the current NHL season, the Toronto Maple Leafs had to be enticed by the group of left-wingers they had assembled on their roster.

Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Matthew Knies was coming off an encouraging cameo at the end of the 2022-2023 regular season plus the playoffs. He was looking like a steal as a second-round draft pick.

Free agent addition Tyler Bertuzzi was coming off a standout playoff performance with the Boston Bruins where he registered 10 points in seven games in their first-round loss to the Florida Panthers. In addition, Bertuzzi was not that far removed from a 30-goal season with the Detroit Red Wings.

Nick Robertson was finally healthy and appeared ready to realize his potential.

Despite being surrounded by stars like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and John Tavares, Bertuzzi and Knies, in particular, have been searching for consistent production.

Port Side Production is Not Matching Potential For the Toronto Maple Leafs

Bertuzzi was expected to slot in on the left with Matthews and Mitch Marner on the Leafs top line. Before long, due to a lack of chemistry and minimal results, Bertuzzi was moved to the second line to play with John Tavares and William Nylander.

The failed connection with Matthews and Marner brings to mind the Nick Ritchie fiasco from the recent past. However, that's not fair to Bertuzzi. His advanced stats show that he has been effective, but unlucky, due to a deficient shooting percentage.

Playing among the top two lines, though comes with expected production and Bertuzzi has not delivered on that front.

Knies debut last season had the Leafs and their fans salivating at the potential size and skill combination that he brings. Before the season started, and especially after replacing Bertuzzi alongside Matthews and Marner, twenty goals was a reasonable expectation.

Knies has scored 10 goals in 52 games. He has had special moments, but it must be remembered that he is navigating through his first full season. Eighty-two games plus travel and playing against men is a much different beast than the NCAA schedule.

Robertson has also flashed his potential in spurts, showing his speed and quick release. His problem has been earning the trust of head coach Sheldon Keefe to play among the top six forwards with increased ice time.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Need a Boost From the Left-Wing

Led by Nylander and Marner, the Toronto Maple Leafs right-wingers have nearly twice the goals than their left-wing counterparts.

The Leafs have an MVP-caliber center, and two All-Star right-wingers, but no semblance of consistent production from the left side. It's time for one of Bertuzzi, Knies, or Robertson to step up and deliver.

The good news for the Leafs? Fourth-line left-winger Bobby McMann has contributed five goals in recent games. Bertuzzi busted out of a prolonged slump with a goal against the Anaheim Ducks. Robertson also scored in that game.

Knies had a beautiful goal in the Leafs victory over the St. Louis Blues.

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The Leafs can only hope this quartet continues their success. If so, a formidable offense will be that much better.