Toronto Maple Leafs
It starts at the top with the President Brendan Shanahan, he has brought in the best of the best to bring a winner back to Toronto. From GM Lou Lamoriello to Coach Mike Babcock, there are many bright hockey minds all working together for the Leafs. I could list a lot of names from Assistant General managers to player development but I will leave you the link to see who is a part of their staff and how their staff is shaped, https://www.nhl.com/mapleleafs/team/management.
In year two of Mike Babcock’s tenure it looks as though the Maple Leafs are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2012-2013, and only the second time since 2003-2004. Goalie Frederik Andersen has put together a solid year for the Leafs, and should be back in the lineup later this week after leaving the game early in Buffalo the other night with an upper body injury. The Leafs will surely need him in the playoffs.
After finishing 30th in the standings last season, Toronto won the NHL Draft Lottery and ended up picking center Auston Matthews. Matthews scored his 35th goal of the season last night versus the Florida Panthers to break Wendel Clark’s rookie scoring record for the Leafs. Matthews has lived up to, and perhaps surpassed, the hype as a 19 year old first line center in the NHL.
Mitch Marner and William Nylander have been very impressive for rookies as well. Nylander is currently on a 12 game point streak, another Leafs rookie record. Marner sits 4th in rookie scoring with 57 points, behind fellow teammates Matthews and Nylander, and Jets winger Patrik Laine. Not to far down the list in rookie scoring at 11th and 12th with 33 points each are forward Connor Brown and defenseman Zikita Zaitsev. Winger Zach Hyman is 18th in rookie points with 28 points in 75 games this season.
Six rookies with great contributions to the scoresheet has been essential to Toronto’s success this season. Head Coach Mike Babcock has brought out the best in his veterans as well. Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner, and Tyler Bozak have already surpassed their career highs in points. JVR and Morgan Reilly will have a chance to do the same in their remaining games. The Toronto Maple Leafs are back, and with their young core they are not going anywhere. The hard part and suffering seems to be over in Toronto, free agents should want to go play there again. With a couple free agent acquisitions and the continuing development of their young guns, the Maple Leafs should only get better moving forward.