It’s tough to be optimistic about the Toronto Maple Leafs, especially if you’re a fan of the team. The fanbase has been put through the ringer for the better part of the last 50 years as the team has found new ways to lose in heartbreaking fashion.
The last time we saw the Toronto Maple Leafs they squandered a 3-2 series lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning and lost again in the first round of the playoffs. Yet, there were no front office firings, nor did general manager Kyle Dubas make any major changes on the ice, save for bringing in Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov to compete for the starting goaltender position.
Now, if you’re a Toronto sports fan, you’re probably also not in a great place emotionally right now after the Blue Jays blew an 8-1 lead and lost in Game 2 of its AL Wild Card series against the Seattle Mariners. However, here’s some good news: the Toronto Maple Leafs will finish first in the Eastern Conference in the regular season this year.
The Offense in Scary and Only Getting Better
The Toronto Maple Leafs really didn’t have to do too much in the offseason. Dubas believes this group can get it done in the playoffs and this will undoubtedly be their last chance. In the regular season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a juggernaut.
Toronto has had a winning percentage of at least .579 in each of the last six seasons and is coming off of a year in which it produced a franchise-best 115 points. They scored 312 goals last season, or 3.8 per game, and the league average was 255. The Toronto Maple Leafs also had one of the best power-plays while being near the bottom of the league in power-play opportunities.
Assuming health, Auston Matthews should be a contender to win the Rocket Richard as the league’s top goalscorer once again. Mitch Marner could lead the league in points – he was on par with Connor McDavid during the last half of the 2021-22 season. And William Nylander and John Tavares, once healthy, will provide solid secondary scoring.
Add in a few wildcards in Michael Bunting, Nick Robertson, Denis Malgin, and Pierre Engvall, and the Toronto MapleLeafs should have the most impressive offense in the league and certainly the Eastern Conference.
They Only Need Average Goaltending
Toronto doesn’t need Murray or Samsonov to be Vezina candidates to have success in the regular season. That much was made clear last season with Jack Campbell, Petr Mrazek, Erik Kallgren, Joseph Woll, and Michael Hutchinson splitting time between the pipes.
Campbell was great to start the season, but finished with a mediocre .914 save percentage and 2.64 GAA. As a team, the Toronto Maple Leafs ranked 18th in goals against 253 yet still had a historic season thanks to its offense. If Murray and/or Samsonov can be average, the Toronto Maple Leafs will contend for the Eastern Conference title. If they exceed expectations, this team could contend for the President’s Trophy.