Toronto Maple Leafs Season Recap

Toronto Maple Leafs Season Recap

by June 18, 2021 0 comments

Given the weakest division in hockey to work with this year, a trip to the semifinals should have been guaranteed. However, the Toronto Maple Leafs failed yet again to win a playoff series, blowing a 3-1 series lead to Montreal.

Of course, fans will not be calm. When you are Toronto, the expectations are always higher than the rest. Not only have they not won a Stanley Cup since 1967, but they play in the biggest market in hockey and last played in round two in 2004.

By the Numbers

Record: 35-14-7 (77 points)
Power Play: 20 percent (16th)
Penalty Kill: 78.5 percent (23rd)
Goals For: 187 (6th)
Goals Against: 148 (7th)

Best Player

Scoring just once in the postseason tarnished a spectacular season by Auston Matthews. He scored 41 goals in 52 games, winning the Rocket Richard Trophy. This was while dealing with wrist problems all season, and the wrist being the key to his signature shot. This postseason made fans turn on Matthews as well as Mitch Marner, who led the team with 67 points. In five seasons, Matthews has reached 40 goals three times, with a low of 34 coming in 62 games as a 20-year-old.

Biggest Disappointment

The Leafs had a ton of overachievers, from Jack Campbell to T.J. Brodie to Jason Spezza, but no obvious disappointment. However, it has to be the guy that Campbell replaced in the net, Frederik Andersen. In a contract season, Andersen battled with injuries and was awful all-around. He had a .895 save percentage with a 2.96 GAA in 24 games. Andersen’s time with Toronto appears to be over, raising the question of whether he can be a starter elsewhere. If he wants to start, maybe Seattle could be a good choice.

Behind the Bench Analysis

While not necessarily a top-three coach, Sheldon Keefe should be in the second tier of NHL coaches. He turned around a team that seemed lost with Mike Babcock last season, and they have been really good in the regular season under him. Of course, the playoffs changed things, but it seemed more like the team failing him than the other way around. However, the special teams were awful which does not make sense for a team with so much talent, so something may need to change there. Keefe is not catching too much blame, which is impressive given the market.

Front Office Analysis

General Manager Kyle Dubas consistently caught flack for his analytical approach to the job, and that seemed to catch up with him this year where he moved away from it. Trading a first and fourth-round pick for Nick Foligno was a terrible idea when Taylor Hall was available, and the signings of Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds to add grit also flattened out. Meanwhile, his analytical acquisitions of Campbell and Brodie were amazing, meaning that Dubas needs to stick to his guns if he wants to succeed. As for the team making it to Round 2, well, that might just be a curse that he cannot avoid.

2021 NHL Entry Draft Picks

Toronto has just one pick in the first four rounds of this year’s draft after the trade for Foligno this year and giving up a third for Campbell and Kyle Clifford in 2020. Just a second-round pick remains, and since they gave up this year’s seventh-round pick for a seventh last year, the Leafs only have three picks in the draft at the moment. Dubas did not have a first-round pick last year but acquired one for Kasperi Kapanen, so he could do something similar to reacquire draft capital and fix his cap problems.

Offseason Checklist

The defense and goaltending are actually fine. A veteran goaltender and maybe a third pairing guy to replace Zach Bogosian, or just the pending UFA himself, will do. The forwards are actually the issue. Zach Hyman is a key part of the team but will be an expensive free agent. Bringing back forwards like Alex Galchenyuk and Foligno could also be an option if inexpensive. If Alexander Kerfoot is lost in the expansion draft, then left-wing will be a big problem. Behind Kerfoot, Foligno, Galchenyuk, and Hyman, the options are Ilya Mikheyev, Pierre Engvall, and not much else. That needs to be addressed.

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