The center of the hockey universe is home to none other than the Toronto Maple Leafs. One of the most storied franchises in the NHL and all of sport. There has been something missing though, the last 50 years (give or take) have seen the Maple Leafs come close but not win a Stanley Cup. The Leafs have gone through so many generations of Owners, GMs, Coaches and players and it took hitting rock bottom for this franchise to start to make a turn around. Lead by Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Kyle Dubas the Leafs franchise has done a great job at getting this team back on the right track. There is still going to be a lot of pain(as Mike Babcock explained) but oh my the future looks BRIGHT!!
Prospects Fwds: Not including the big 3 the leafs have a plethora of high end talent with Brown, Kapanen, Bracco, Hyman, Soshnikov, Timashov and Korostelev to name a few.
The big 3: The big 3 in Matthews, Nylander and Marner is…. WOW. These 3 are elite level players and even with the big starts to Matthews and Nylanders (including rookie of the month) seasons i think Marner has been the leafs best player. Which is saying something.
Veterans: The Leafs still have a bunch of talent in their veteran core which along with producing, is doing a great job mentoring these young guys(6 rookies in the line up) to start the season.
Management: What can i even say Babcock, Lamoriello, Shanahan, Dubas and Hunter. All make an amazing management team with elite coaching, an extremely experienced GM and a scouting guru.
Goaltending(Sort of): Fredrik Anderson has got back on track after a shaky start and is showing the Leaf fans and management what he can do. If he can keep it up and not get discouraged with the rebuild then we’re set.
Prospects Defence/Goal: Although these 2 positions are not too bad in terms of “talent”, they are significantly weaker than the forward core especially in net. Hopefully in the coming draft the leafs can focus on a few defense man and a goalie or two to help the depth chart in those positions.
Defense: This is a sore spot for me, I specifically look for defensive play during games as I love to see great defense turn into offence… I have not seen that very often. Guys like Hunwick, Marcinin and even Polak have not had very good starts to the season with massive defensive breakdowns. Gardiner has at times been brilliant but the next game or even next play look absolutely lost on the ice. There is still bright spots though, Morgan Rielly has had a tough time with some of the games best players but overall has been good. Zaitsev is a steal playing top line minutes and makes very little mistakes.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have the youngest roster in the league and overall havnt played terrible despite what their record shows. They are top 10 in the league in CF% and GF% which is great given the youth on the roster. Once this team settles down and gets their feet under them they will look great. Whether that is this season or next, The rest of the league should keep one eye in Toronto because the Leafs are coming for that cup sooner rather than later!