Toronto Maple Leafs
|2016-17 season: 40-27-15, 95 points
Lost to Washington 4-2 in the
Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
|Head Coach: Mike Babcock (2015)|
|4th Place Atlantic Division||General Manager: Lou Lamoriello (2015)|
|8th Place Eastern Conference||AHL Affiliate: Toronto Marlies
ECHL Affiliate: Orlando Solar Bears
|Draft Position: Will have the 17th pick in the draft|
|LW||27||James van Riemsdyk||82||62||29||33||-2||52.3|
|POS||Age||Name||Games Started||W/L Record||Shutouts||GAA||Save %|
Trades Made During the Season
|What They Acquired||Team They Traded With||In Exchange For|
|F Eric Fehr
D Steve Olesky
2017 4th RD Pick
|Pittsburgh Penguins||D Frank Corrado|
|C Brian Boyle||Tampa Bay Lightning||F Byron Froese
2017 2nd RD Pick
|F Sergey Kalinin||New Jersey Devils||D Viktor Loov|
|2018 7th RD Pick||Anaheim Ducks||G Jhonas Enroth|
6th RD Pick
|Arizona Coyotes||C Peter Holland|
Impending Free Agents
|POS||Age||Name||2016-17 Cap Hit|
- For the first time since 2013 the Leafs weren’t a lottery team this season and instead will draft in the latter half. They have seven picks in the upcoming draft and will have the 17th overall pick in the first round. I believe that Toronto has the best group of young forwards in the league currently and needs to turn its attention to the blueline and continuing to better the team’s one weak spot. I look for them to spend at least two picks, including their first rounder, on defensemen in the draft.
What I Said About Them Before the Season
- In the preseason, I wrote a lot about their roster moves and was very high on them drafting Auston Matthews and acquiring Frederik Andersen. I was also happy to see that they decided to not pursue Steven Stamkos and thought that signing him would have destroyed their future roster. I didn’t project them to be a playoff team this season but thought that they would remain competitive all season long and wouldn’t be a true contender for the number one overall pick.
- Success – No one truly thought that the Maple Leafs were going to be a playoff team prior to the season starting, let alone taking the President Trophy winning Washington Capitals to six games. Basically every player that needed to develop did so and the team was able to put out a roster every game that was competitive. Auston Matthews proved that he was worth taking at number one and is already one of the game’s best goalscorers and playmakers. He skated on a young line that was able to go up against basically any other team’s first line and compete. Rookies Mitch Marner and William Nylander both were excellent in their first seasons and both broke franchise rookie records. With the emergence of their young players, it allowed veterans like Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak to slot in lower on the depth chart, giving the Leafs quite a lot of depth. The acquisition of Frederik Andersen to be their starting goaltender paid off as he was quite good all season long despite not having much help behind him at the backup position. Their defense unit, the one area that was warranting of being questioned, was actually much better than probably initially anticipated. Nikita Zaitsev was very good in his first season in North America, Jake Gardiner stepped up as one of the team’s best overall defensemen, and Morgan Rielly began looking like the top pairing d-man that he was expected to develop into. If there was one area that had issues it was in the third pairing of their defense which was susceptible for stretches of the season. Regardless of that, this team outperformed expectations and the front office rewarded the roster for its successes by acquiring Brian Boyle as a playoff rental at the trade deadline. They gave up very little to get him and it was a smart move considering Boyle has extensive playoff experience and is a great fourth line center.
- This offseason, the Maple Leafs need to re-sign Zach Hyman, Connor Brown, and Nikita Zaitsev, all of whom are RFAs. There is supposed to be a contract in place for Zaitsev that would lock him down for seven years, a deal that would be somewhat of a gamble but would payoff in spades if it works out. Hyman and Brown will both require small raises to keep them in Toronto but neither should be too expensive and could probably be locked down long-term. In terms of the open market, I think that they need to sign at least one quality defenseman to help bolster their blueline. There is probably a chance that they pursue Kevin Shattenkirk, who is the best defenseman on the market this offseason, and would help the team quite a bit. I don’t think though that they are in a place to give Shattenkirk the deal he is expecting which is probably in the range of seven years at $7 million per season. Instead, perhaps they could offer him a shorter contract of three to four years but pay him more per season. The Maple Leafs have a lot of cap space available next season and for two more years but will then need to begin working on extensions for Matthews, Marner, and Nylander. If they don’t sign Shattenkirk, I think that they should look into Michael Stone or Karl Alzner, both of whom are defensemen that can eat up a lot of minutes. Toronto also needs to address their backup goaltender position, which was a revolving door this season and they will need some consistency behind Andersen going forward. Lastly, I would like to see them consider re-signing Brian Boyle for maybe two years as he is so good on a team’s fourth line and is one of the game’s better penalty killers. Regardless of what the Maple Leafs do this offseason, they have over $17 million in cap space for next season as of right now and will have plenty of money to strengthen their roster for next season.
*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*