The Toronto Maple Leafs will be quietly confident of challenging for the Stanley Cup next season. After a much improved 2017/18 campaign, Mike Babcock’s side will be looking to push on and reach the latter stages of the postseason in 2019.
New York Islanders star John Tavares has been linked with the Maple Leafs in recent weeks and his arrival would certainly bolster Toronto’s standing. Tavares and Auston Matthews on the same roster at Air Canada Centre would be frightening for visiting teams…
NHL Draft: A Review
From a Maple Leafs perspective, the 2018 NHL Draft went pretty smoothly. Toronto General Manager Kyle Dubas moved quickly and effectively to select Soo Greyhounds defenseman Rasmus Sandin with the 29th overall pick. Sandin notched 45 points from the Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League last year and he looks well suited to the Maple Leafs.
52nd overall pick Sean Durzi could also flourish at Toronto; the self-proclaimed Maple Leafs supporter has already endeared himself to the fan base. Another selection from the OHL, Durzi ticks all the right boxes to enjoy a long and successful career in the National Hockey League.
Toronto’s third pick was arguably their most interesting. 17-year-old centreman Semyon Der-Arguchintsev doesn’t turn 18 until September and he will need to bulk up in order to cut it at the top level. One for the future, Peterborough Petes fans will be keeping a close eye on his progress.
Fingers Crossed For Injury-Free Year
Matthews is key to Toronto’s aspirations and Maple Leafs fans will be praying for an injury-free campaign. Mitch Marner ended the regular season as Toronto’s top points scorer (69) but Matthews made just 62 appearances for the Maple Leafs. With a bit of luck, Matthews can flourish next year and he will be looking to top the 100 points mark.
Currently priced at 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup with 888sport, the Maple Leafs are on the verge of something special. Every team will have to deal with its fair share of injury woes but most are able to cope after losing a key player. Toronto are some way below their brilliant best when Matthews is not on the ice.
Maple Leafs Cannot Get Too Carried Away
Babcock himself admitted that Toronto still have further team needs following the 2018 NHL Draft – and you’d have to make him right. The Maple Leafs have added a few prospects to the roster but there is nothing quite like Stanley Cup experience. Bringing in a couple of seasoned veterans with playoff knowledge could give the entire locker room a lift.
Tavares would be some coup and Maple Leafs fans will be keeping a close eye on any major developments in the coming weeks. Toronto may decide to place all of their eggs in one basket when it comes to the Islanders man but that is a risk; the Canadian outfit may be in a precarious position if he decides to stay put or move elsewhere.
2018/19 Season Prediction
First and foremost, competing for top spot in the Eastern Conference’s Atlantic Division is the initial objective. Securing a playoff berth is an absolute must; this roster is too gifted to miss out on the postseason. From there, it is all about composure. Toronto have the quality to challenge for Stanley Cup glory and it would take a brave man to back against them.
Fans will be excited to see the new draftees take to the ice, especially first round selection Rasmus Sandin. In time, Sandin could blossom into one of Toronto’s most consistent players and he is an exciting prospect – an attacking defenseman could give the Maple Leafs a real boost next year. If nothing else, it should be an exciting and entertaining season.