The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Now Paying the Price For Their Lack of Foresight

Regrettable trades, poor player development, a changing identity, and bad luck have all contributed to the Leafs current plight. As their best players reach their prime years, they have multiple holes to fill and limited options.
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three
Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Three / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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For a team with championship aspirations, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a lot of needs. Goaltending and defense top the list.

The Florida Panthers clinical march to the brink of a Stanley Cup victory has shown the importance of suffocating the opposition. They have neutralized some of the best offensive teams in the NHL during their postseason run.

By comparison, the Toronto Maple Leafs are on the hunt for a goaltender to pair with the talented, but unreliable Joseph Woll. They also need at least two top-four defenders to fill out a very thin blue line.

The Leafs have lots of holes to fill. Their lack of foresight plus numerous other issues have restricted the options to bolster the roster around Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner in their prime years.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Are Now Paying the Price For Their Lack of Foresight

The Maple Leafs are approaching the end of their "Core 4" era, with a year remaining on the contracts of Marner and John Tavares.

The Leafs went all-in with skill and offense when Brendan Shanahan and former GM Kyle Dubas decided to sign free-agent Tavares. His signing, plus later contracts to Matthews, Nylander, and Marner, devoted much of the team's salary cap space to the forwards.

Morgan Rielly was and continues to be, the only long-term significant commitment to a defenseman or goalie.

The high salaries for few players combined with no-movement clauses has left the Leafs with little cap space flexibility to get into the likely bidding wars for the best available defensemen in this year's free agency.

Should the Leafs want to look for a proven, veteran goalie via trade, they must navigate around approaching someone like Marner about rescinding his no-movement clause. It's a sensitive situation.

Their defense consists of Rielly and Jake McCabe and little else. The team's best young prospects play forward.

How did the Maple Leafs get in this predicament and how can they fix it before it's too late?