Toronto Maple Leafs Young Talent Can Help Them Win a Stanley Cup

Minnesota Wild v Toronto Maple Leafs
Minnesota Wild v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs are an elite hockey team and are set up to win a Stanley Cup in the next few years, if they make these two changes.

Just because you have the best players, on paper, doesn't mean you're going to win, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been facing that unfortunate tale for the past decade. Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander and Auston Matthews are four of the most talented players in the NHL, but when they're paired together, they haven't yet been able to win, and that's OK.

Five years ago, every Leafs fan would have taken their chances with that combination, but now that it's continued to fail, it's time to move on.

Unfortunately, both Tavares and Marner have no-trade-clauses so it may be a little more difficult for them to leave this year, but the Leafs need to do everything in their power to make this happen. Whether it's offering Tavares the post-retirement Darryl Sittler/Wendel Clark treatment, or telling Marner they're not going to re-sign him next year, Toronto needs to get rid of both of these players and here's why.

If you look at the entire Leafs organization, they have five top-nine forwards who could all be making less than $2M next year, who have elite offensive upside that can replce Marner and Tavares for 1/20th of the price. Easton Cowan, Fraser Minten, Matthew Knies, Bobby McMann and Nick Robertson (if they resign him) all currently make $1.35M or less, with Robertson due for a new contract this offseason.

As an RFA, the Leafs have all of the leverage right now with Robertson, so they'd be dumb not to re-sign him, especially with a new coach coming in.

Leafs Need to Trade Marner and Tavares

Without making any subtractions, the Leafs would gain roughly $20M in cap-space and the team's offense wouldn't change that much by getting rid of Tavares and Marner. I know that Cowan, Minten, McMann, Knies and Robertson individually wouldn't put up the same season as Marner and Tavares did, but collectively, there's no doubt that they can reach similar numbers that those two did.

The Leafs finished second in the NHL in goals scored last year and they couldn't reach the Second Round, so clearly they're doing something wrong.

Speaking of which, I know that this theme has been told numerous times, but the Leafs need to use that money saved and put it directly into goaltending and defense. With that money saved, the Leafs could sign two of the following defenseman (Brandon Montour, Nikita Zadorov, Chris Tanev, or Brady Skjei), which would really help.

Even after signing those two, the Leafs would probably have enough money to acquire a goaltender, either in the offseason or at the NHL Trade Deadline. Since Joseph Woll is only making $766K, I'd be fine with seeing how his health keeps up during the regular season and then making a big trade at the Deadline if he starts to falter.


Fraser Minten, Matthew Knies, Easton Cowan, Nick Robertson and Bobby McMann are huge assets for the Leafs right now and they need to capitalize on it while they're making league-minimum. All five of these players can replace Marner's and Tavares' production, so the Toronto Maple Leafs need to do everything they can to ship them out and add to their defense, or we'll be looking at the same results next year.