THE LEAFS REPORT : The Team to Beat?

By Matt Paul

December 2, 2018

Boasting a 19 – 8 record after last night’s 5-3 win against the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit at or near the top in many categories. In wins, goals for the Leafs sit second in the NHL. In goals against, thanks to improved defensive commitments and improved early season work from Frederick Andersen between the pipes the Leafs sit tied for Fifth.

This season has been an interest one for sure, most recently the team had to cope without arguably the number 1 centre Auston Matthews being out for a month. During that time we saw an emergence of secondary scoring from the likes of Tyler Ennis, Josh Leivo, Andreas Johnsson and the establishment of Kasperi Kapanen in a top role. Continued excellence of Mitch Marner and Jon Tavares delivering as advertised did not allow the Maple Leafs to miss a beat.

To date this entire calendar year the Leafs have yet to ice a team featuring the likes of William Nylander. This begs the question now that the 61 point winger/centreman has been resigned, What will the record look like the rest of the way?

It is clear that barring any injuries; the Leafs have the deepest team in the league and possibly as time may prove modern history. Take a look at the projected lines:

Johnsson Matthews Kapanen

Hyman Tavares Marner

Marleau Kadri Nylander

Brown Lindholm Leivo

Reilly Hainsey

Gardiner Zaitsev

Dermott Ozhiganov

These are not official, however, it is quite a thing to see a player like Ennis who has done a great job in limited minutes possibly sitting in the press box. It would be a great surprise if the team does not make a move to acquire another defenceman with one of their assets however I honestly don’t think there is a need to do so with Calle Rosen, Timothy Liljegren and Andreas Borgmann waiting in the Marlies. I do not see any team challenging the Leafs in terms of speed and scoring. If they try to intimidate the team with overly physical play the powerful powerplay will further damage the score sheet and pad individual stats for Matthews, Reilly, Marner, Tavares, Nylander and Kadri to name a few.

Feel free to update your comments. I don’t think this year’s group will prove me wrong. I am projecting a President’s Trophy win along with a Norris for Reilly heading into the playoffs this spring. As for the Playoff’s, we will see if speed will adequately defeat tougher teams when the going gets tough.

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