Photo Credit: Luis Fallas, Unsplash
Can the Toronto Maple Leafs bounce back from last season’s heartbreaking ending?
Lucas Carpignano, Sports Editor
If you ask any fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs how they feel about the upcoming season, it will be the same answer every year: “It’s going to be our year.” I am no different. I truly believe the roster that they currently have has a chance of going all the way for the first time since 1967. But why? Let’s break it down.
The organization’s biggest change this off-season was replacing general manager Kyle Dubas with Brad Treliving. Dubas was the general manager for the Leafs for the past five seasons and decided to part ways with the organization after contract disputes. He has since taken on the same role for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Previously, Treliving was the general manager for the Calgary Flames for nine seasons, so he brings a lot of experience to the table. Treliving wasted no time in extending superstar Auston Matthews through the 2027–28 season. Treliving also brought in new talent to the organization.
One of the most significant additions the Leafs have made was signing forward Tyler Bertuzzi to a one-year contract worth 5.5 million dollars. Bertuzzi, 28, spent last season split with the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins, recording 30 points in 50 regular season games. In addition to this, he recorded 10 points in 7 playoff games with the Bruins. Bertuzzi brings the speed and grit the Leafs need. He’s expected to start the season alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
The Leafs are also strengthening their blue line with the signing of John Klingberg. Klingberg, 31, spent last season split with the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, recording 33 points in 67 regular season games. It is expected that Klingberg will quarterback the first powerplay unit and help create scoring chances from the blue line.
Finally, the addition that has all of Leafs nation excited is Max Domi. Domi, 28, has a last name that every Leafs fan is familiar with. His father, Tie, spent over a decade with the organization in the late 90s and early 2000s, and became a franchise fan-favourite. Domi spent last season split with the Chicago Blackhawks and Dallas Stars recording 56 points in 80 regular season games. His biggest strength is his playmaking ability, which will help with the Leafs’s depth scoring.
The Leafs also have several young players looking to make an impact this season. This includes Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson, and Joseph Woll. Both Knies and Robertson have proven to be NHL-ready, and they have a similar play style. They both suffered injuries last year limiting their NHL play, but if they remain healthy, they will surprise a lot of people. Joseph Woll played a handful of NHL games last season in net for the Leafs and left a lasting impression. The expectation is he will get the start in net for about half the regular season games this year.
When considering the significant additions this year along with the management shakeup, the Leafs look like a legitimate cup contender. Of course, Leafs fans say this every year, but I haven’t been this confident in a roster in years. Treliving is putting all the puzzle pieces together, filling the needs that the Leafs have had for years. Although a lot of fan favourites, like Michael Bunting and Luke Schenn, are not returning this season, the new additions should get us all excited. Combined with the superstars the Leafs already have, we might get to witness history. The Leafs kick off the regular season at home on October 11th at 7:00pm against the Montreal Canadiens.