The Toronto Maple Leafs are good enough to win the Stanley Cup.
Right now, with the exact roster they are dressing for their next game, the Toronto Maple Leafs could win the Stanley Cup.
PK gets hot, goalie gets hot, and for the first time ever, Matthews and Marner do not run into an electric, super-hot, unbeatable goalie.
It could happen.
It already could have. The Leafs in the last five years dressed a team capable of winning the Cup every time. They had some excellent teams over the last five years, and have tried to augment their core in a variety of different ways.
It could have worked out, but it didn't. If I was ranking the teams of the last six or seven years, this version of the Leafs would likely be at or near the bottom. They could still win, but it's unlikely unless everything goes perfectly.
The One Thing the Toronto Maple Leafs Have Never Tried With This Core
What the Leafs need to be, is better than very good. Under Keefe, they have consistantly been near the top of the league, but they've never been the earth-shattering, unstoppable, indisputable best team in hockey.
That is what you have to be to have the best chance of winning.
With the Leafs current roster, that is not possible. They could get hot and go on a run, but they aren't, as currently constructed, going to start dominating teams on a consistant basis.
There is only one thing the Leafs haven't done with the Matthews/Marner core, and that is augment it with a no-doubt #1 defenseman.
GM Brad Treliving needs to make that happen. If he can do it without sacrificing William Nylander then even better, but he's got to find a way to make it happen.
This team could easily get lucky and win the Stanley Cup. But a team with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner that has Morgan Rielly as it's second-best defenseman is going to be infinitely more dangerous than one who has him as their best.
The Leafs core has kept this season from collapsing in on itself. The team could already be a longshot to make the playoffs if they didn't have the rare ability to score their way out of jams.
That might not be a sustainable way to win, but it does tell me that the team could be amazing if some of its flaws were repaired.
The Leafs have the assets and the cap flexibility to make some trades happen if they want to. Their blue-line isn't good enough right now for this team to reach its' full potential, but if the first half of this season has shown us anything, it's that the potential for this team, with a real blue-line behind it, is off the charts.