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Tuesday’s FTB: The time to manage expectations is over

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Coach Babcock, you have the floor.

Toronto Maple Leafs v New Jersey Devils Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

“There’s going to be pain here.”

Those words have been swimming within the minds of Leafs fans for the last three years and it’s safe to say a lot has changed since then. Mike Babcock went into his first season as Leafs coach with this:

15-16 Opening Night Lineup

Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Line 1 JVR Kadri Boyes Pair 1 Hunwick Phaneuf
Line 2 Matthias Bozak Lupul Pair 2 Marincin Rielly
Line 3 Winnik Spaling Parenteau Pair 3 Gardiner Harrington
Line 4 Arcobello Holland Komarov

Fast forward through two years of drafting, developing and success on the open market, and Babcock saw a serious upgrade.

17-18 Opening Night Roster

Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Line 1 Hyman Matthews Nylander Pair 1 Rielly Hainsey
Line 2 Marleau Kadri Komarov Pair 2 Gardiner Zaitsev
Line 3 JVR Bozak Marner Pair 3 Borgman Carrick
Line 4 Martin Fehr Brown

Throw in John Tavares, scramble things up a bit, and here’s a very loose guess at what the opening night roster may look like next season.

Possible 18-19 Lineup

Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Forwards LW C RW Defence LD RD
Line 1 Marleau Matthews Nylander Pair 1 Rielly Hainsey
Line 2 Hyman Tavares Marner Pair 2 Gardiner Zaitsev
Line 3 Johnsson Kadri Brown Pair 3 Dermott Carrick
Line 4 Ennis Lindholm Kapanen

In how many ways can you say “sick”?

Babcock and the Leafs have had the benefit of weaker lineups dictating the expectations for the upcoming season. The 15-16 roster had a giant ‘T’ for tank on it’s forehead while many were hoping for improvements from the young stars on the 17-18 squad. The playoffs would’ve been cool - and they were except for its finish - but seeing the likes of Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner take a step forward would’ve been a lovely silver lining.

Now it’s different. This has been the best the Leafs have looked on paper in years. Management can try their best to control the message, but the fact of the matter is, the forward group pushes the mind towards imagining a deep playoff run.

The defence is a different story and will be addressed when the mystical Dubas (yeah, that’s what we’re calling him now) makes his move. And the thing is, the Leafs could very well walk into camp with that sample lineup I have above. It doesn’t mean that they’re a weaker team, I mean, they won 49 games with said blue line.

That said, Babcock is going to have his work cut out for him this season. Travis Dermott looks to be on the verge of breaking out, and who’s to say Justin Holl, Calle Rosen, Andreas Borgman don’t get another stint in the NHL? Maybe, just maybe Igor Ozhiganov has a good camp and catches the attention of the coaching staff.

It’ll be up to Babcock to take these players and turn them into pl’yrs. In other words, expectations are done with, it’s time for some results.

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Enjoy your Tuesday Leafs fans and sorry for the memories from the 15-16 season!

Poll

What result will you be satisfied with for the 18-19 season?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Make the Playoffs
    (7 votes)
  • 20%
    Win a Round
    (154 votes)
  • 53%
    Reach the Conference Final
    (397 votes)
  • 25%
    Reach the Stanley Cup Final
    (187 votes)
745 votes total Vote Now