“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
|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|
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
|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|
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
|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|
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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Around the Hockey World
I’m not crying, YOU’RE CRYING!
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Well this hits home for the Leafs.
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Emily Fluke recently became the first D-III alumna to sign for next season. How many more will follow?
Enjoy your Tuesday Leafs fans and sorry for the memories from the 15-16 season!
What result will you be satisfied with for the 18-19 season?
This poll is closed
Make the Playoffs
Win a Round
Reach the Conference Final
Reach the Stanley Cup Final