The Toronto Maple Leafs have not won a Stanley Cup since 1967. Leafs fans have been dealing with years and years of disappointment, but that disappointment ends now.
This young, talented Leafs squad has fans thinking of the playoffs now and in the future. They’re currently sitting 4th in the Atlantic division, with a 23-15-9 record.
No matter what way you look at this team, there are positives. Their coach, Mike Babcock, says that he is committed to this team long-term. Lou Lamoriello, arguably the best general manager in the NHL, has made some real good moves since stepping in. When you trade Roman Polak and Ben Smith to the San Jose Sharks for two second round picks, then end up getting both players back, that is some GM magic.
In Toronto there’s finally a plan in place, that the team can follow and help lead them to many successful years. The ‘Shanaplan’ in Toronto, means that the team won’t sacrifice it’s future on the trade market for ‘rental players.’
If you’re a Leafs’ fan, you are wanting to stick to the plan. It’s working, and if you don’t believe me, would you believe that three of their top-5 scorers are rookies? Cause that’s true. The Leafs are led by Auston Matthews, the young rookie who looks poised to take the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year.
Matthews is currently tied with teammates James Van Riemsdyk and Mitchell Marner for the lead in points, with 39. He has had an incredible year, but that is not to say that Nylander and Marner have not. They have been just as good, actually Marner has looked amazing at times this season.
If this year wasn’t so focused on Laine vs. Matthews, Marner and Nylander would be top-end contenders for this award. And you never know, if they keep up then scoring pace, they could end up winning the Calder.
Now let’s take a look at the main pieces of the future core for the Leafs:
47 GP – 23 goals, 16 assists, 39 points – +2 and 11 PPP
Auston Matthews is the clear-cut future captain of these Toronto Maple Leafs. He has been nothing but spectacular since coming into the NHL and has lived up to all expectations he had coming into the season.
47 GP – 11 goals, 28 assists, 39 points. -5 and 13 PPP
Mitch Marner has been a dangerous playmaker for the Leafs this season. After being sent back to London last season, he figured it was time to step it up a notch, and that he did. Marner has shown the Leafs that he is a bigger part of the future than some had once thought.
46 GP – 10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points. -2 and 15 PPP
William Nylander has been tossed between all sorts of lines this season, and at some point was on the 4th line. He has performed beyond expectations and no matter what trade rumours there are, he is a big part of this Leafs’ future.
42 GP – 1 goal, 16 assists, 17 points. -5 and 3 PPP
Morgan Rielly is the future of this Leafs’ defence. He has shown signs of brilliance and is on most nights, the hardest working Leaf. They were smart locking him up long-term, as they know how important he is to this defensive core.
The Leafs are on the right path. All of these players will provide stability to the future of this team. The future of this team is really bright, and it is only a matter of time before they get in the playoffs and make a run for their first cup in fifty years.