The Toronto Maple Leafs Don't Seem to Understand That the Future Is Now

Mar 6, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) battles for the
Mar 6, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (34) battles for the / Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs do not seem to understand that the future is now.

The Toronto Maple Leafs did not make any significant upgrades at the trade deadline, and the excuse is that they just didn't have the assets to make improvements. There will be the usual BS about liking the team they have.

And they will most likely lose again in the first or second round of the playoffs, because the path through to the Stanley Cup Final goes through a gauntlet of Contenders that all got were already better than the Leafs are and who just got a lot better. Maybe Boston didn't improve that much, but unless the Leafs suddenly figure out how to contain David Pastrnak and move the puck into the centre of the ice against them, it won't matter.

The Leafs had the assets and the cap flexibilty to do whatever they wanted at the trade deadline, but they played it safe.

Ironically, Safe Is Stupid (at Least in This Case)

It's true that the Leafs did not have next year's first or any second rounders in the next three drafts. But other than that, they had players they could have moved.

Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson, Joseph Woll, Easton Cowen and Frazer Minton are not players you want to trade, but they are players who you could trade for the right price.

The Leafs chose to stick with what they have. It's prudent. They can blame the convenient boogieman of Kyle Dubas and then who knows, maybe a goalie gets hot and they fluke their way deep into a playoff run - something that could easily happen, because their core is really, really good.

But risking one of Auston Matthew's prime seasons on the hopes of a fluke doesn't actually seem that safe. It seems like a waste.

Look, I know that not everyone is going to view this like I view it, and that's fine. Most people are probably ha;;y imagining a world where \Matthews and Marner get hot at the right time and combine it with enough goaltending to win a championship, and where Easton Cowen turns into a superstar down the road.

To be sure, both things are possible. Just unlikely.

But what we know FOR SURE is that Auston Matthews is 26 and Mitch Marner is 27. They will never be this good again. Willy is headed for 30 and Tavares and Rielly are already in decline. We know for sure that the Leafs have a conteding team right now. We don't know that will ever be the case again. We assume that there is a wide open window of contention, but it's not guaranteed.

It seems smart to bet on what is guaranteed, and that is that the Leafs are good now. Bet on that. Don't hedge for the future.

Injuries and pandemics have already cut into this core's ability to win, so why do we assume the future will automatically be better? Then Golden Knights seem to act like every year is the year to go all-in, and they added three star player despite having a similar number of draft picks and a similarly ranked prospect system as the Leafs.

It takes guts to risk making the wrong move, and It's easy to do nothing and talk about the future since it will be years before anyone knows if you're wrong. I think the Leafs actions at this trade deadline were cowardly and weak. I think they are risk-adverse and far too conservative about adding to a team with a potential 75 goal scorer on it.

It takes guts to take your shot. The Toronto Maple Leafs could have aggressively tried to win, but they played it safe like cowards. That is why they are, and will continue to be absolute failures.


Brendan Shanahan and Brad Treliving should be ashamed of themselves. What an utter disgrace of a performance considering they have two of the best players in franchise history at the peak of their primes.