by OddsShark (@OddsShark) – Sponsored Post
One thing that is certain is the Toronto Maple Leafs will be part of any postseason the National Hockey League opts to hold to decide a 2020 Stanley Cup champion.
With the season suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maple Leafs are priced at +1800 on the Stanley Cup odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Maple Leafs’ Atlantic Division rivals, the Boston Bruins (+600) and Tampa Bay Lightning (+700), are at the top of the board at online sports betting sites, along with the Vegas Golden Knights (also +700), Colorado Avalanche (+800), Philadelphia Flyers (+900) and defending champion St. Louis Blues (+900).
The Maple Leafs had a 36-25-9 record and .579 points percentage when play halted on March 12, which put them third in the Atlantic. They were third in the league in goals scored (3.39) and 26th in goals against (3.17).
The former figure attests to the strength of an offense that is led by Auston Matthews (third in the league with 47 goals) and William Nylander (tied for 15th with 31). Matthews was also a top-10 scorer with 80 points. On the back end, No. 1 defenseman Morgan Rielly and regulars Jake Muzzin, Cody Ceci and Travis Dermott missed a combined 68 games due to injury, which compromised Toronto’s defensive zone structure. Offensive-minded Tyson Barrie was the only defenseman to play in all 70 games.
While all-star goalie Frederik Andersen has a 29-13-7 record, 2.85 goals-against average and .909 save percentage, Toronto was just 28th out of the 31 NHL teams in five-on-five save percentage (.912). The prospect of having a healthy complement in front of rested Andersen gives Toronto some upside in the playoffs, if they do take place.
There is no timeline for when the NHL will be able to resume play. Commissioner Gary Bettman has emphasized that any Stanley Cup competition must do “justice to the history and tradition of the Stanley Cup.” The Maple Leafs would face the Lightning – who they defeated in their two most recent matchups on February 25 and March 10 – if the standard 16-team format is used. Another scenario that has been floated involves a 24-team format beginning with a best-of-three round, to make up for the fact teams did not play the same number of regular-season games. In that scenario, the Maple Leafs would face the New York Rangers, who are 11th in the Eastern Conference in points percentage.