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Dear Santa: 5 Maple Leafs wishes for Christmas

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Photo credit:Gerry Angus-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
2 months ago
Tis the holiday season, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have managed to land on Santa’s ‘nice’ list. The big guy with the giant sack of goodies will make his way around and like many around the world, it’s important the Leafs make a list for Santa, to let all his elves know what they need so badly under the Christmas tree.
Last Christmas, Santa managed to give the Leafs a playoff-round win for the first time in almost two decades, so what will he have in store for this season? Here’s five Maple Leafs wishes for Christmas once the reindeer fly over Scotiabank arena:

Health and Happiness

Simple enough, isn’t it? The Leafs have been absolutely chomped on by the injury bug this season and have managed to keep up among the best teams in the Eastern Conference. Starting netminder Joseph Woll is still a couple of weeks away and his return can’t come soon enough, meanwhile Mark Giordano should be an option in the near future. The flu bug recently ripped through the lineup and enough is enough, Santa needs to pack some vitamins and some herbal tea.
If the Maple Leafs have any shot at making some noise in the spring, they’ll need all their top guns in the lineup. Put it this way, if one of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander or Morgan Rielly go down, the chances of winning anything are minimal in Toronto. The core five make up their foundation to success.
The happiness piece can’t be minimized either and is vital for heading in the right direction. There’s no doubt throughout the early parts of the season you could hear it in the player’s tone of their voices they were getting sick of answering the same questions in scrums. The same can be said for Ilya Samsonov of late, as the netminder has completely lost his confidence and is not having fun at the moment playing the sport he loves. Hopefully Santa and his reindeer can turn things around for him after the holiday break, although his future may include a demotion in early 2024 to try and right the ship.

Santa Bring Some Saves

Speaking of goaltending, it’s been a sore spot for the Leafs for most of the season, which is wild to think considering where they sit in the standings. As a team, Toronto is ranked 26th in goals-against per game and running a track meet isn’t going to get them many wins come the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe has his hands tied with Woll on the IR and with Samsonov shattered, so he currently has no choice but to play veteran Martin Jones. The Leafs don’t want to rush top prospect Dennis Hildeby, who is in his first season in North America, even though Hildeby is absolutely running show in the AHL.
So, what options does Santa have in his sack full of goodies? How about a veteran who has won when the games mattered most and would be a great teammate while waiting his turn? Marc-Andre Fleury of the Minnesota Wild is an interesting option for a gift and someone who could make some sense as a backup for Woll. He also happens to be off the books at season’s end and makes basically the same AAV as Samsonov.

More Goals for Matthews

Considering a couple of dry spells throughout the start of the season, it’s wild to see Matthews sitting at almost a goal-a-game. He’s once again on pace for 70-plus and Santa needs to grant this wish and sprinkle some holiday spirit on 34’s stick the next few months.
Matthews has showcased his talents all over the ice this season and continues to score from anywhere, any type of fashion. Off the rush, in the slot, spin-o-rama’s from the half wall, they are all going in right now and it’s starting to become less of a pipe dream that he could eventually become the greatest goal-scorer of all time.
While Matthews won’t be catching Mats Sundin on the Leafs all-time list this season, with another 70 spot this year, he could potentially do it in 2024-25. Which is kind of crazy to think because Matthews will had played roughly 300 less games to get to Sundin’s record of 420.

One Shut-Down Defenseman, Maybe Two,

Santa please, the Leafs need this. GM Brad Treliving better have made the nice list this year because he’ll be asking Santa for a defensive defensemen, maybe two. The Leafs defense has been an organized chaotic mess and several injuries haven’t made things any easier.
Simon Benoit and William Lagesson have filled in nicely, but should not be playing come the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The same can be said for Connor Timmins, who absolutely fooled us all in the preseason. Rielly stays obviously and same goes for TJ Brodie, Timothy Liljegren, Jake McCabe and likely Giordano.
Chris Tanev of the Calgary Flames is an absolute perfect fit and has been linked to his hometown team all season long. While prying Noah Hanifin in the package would cost the Leafs at least a first-round pick and one top prospect, Treliving has been known to make extremely bold moves in the past and has already tried to trade for two Flames defensemen earlier on this season.
Treliving needs to ask Santa for help during negotiations as the Leafs GM must hold onto the likes of Fraser Minten, Easton Cowan and the earlier mentioned Hildeby. Besides these three, all prospects should be in play and Treliving better not put down the phone this spring until he lands at least one blueliner, maybe two.

Santa Bring a Pen for #88

Speaking of negotiations, one big present Santa needs to pack over the holidays is a contract extension for Nylander. There’s been a ton of optimism of late stating the two sides have made some progress and the vibes are very positive.
Santa needs to sprinkle on some holiday magic and bring his fanciest pen to the offices of Scotiabank and let Treliving and Nylander use it to sign on the dotted line. #88 has been the team’s best player this season and has taken his game to new heights. Long gone are the days of avoiding every single corner in the league and now Nylander appears committed to all elements of his game and the results have been there since game one.
From being the King of Stockholm for a week or riding the TTC and becoming a man of the people, Nylander’s had a very entertaining start to the year and Leafs fans are hopeful he’ll continue his magic after Christmas.
While Matthews only signed a four-year extension, Nylander’s much more likely to sign the full eight-year maximum term. He loves Toronto, he loves being a Maple Leaf and he’s looking to continue creating his legacy.
Santa, Leafs fans could use some help this Christmas, would a Stanley Cup be too much of an ask? Maybe it is out of the budget, so if you’re not able to flat out just hand one over, find the Maple Leafs some health, a few more saves, a couple more goals, a defensive defensemen or two, and make sure Nylander gets paid.
Merry Christmas to you and yours.
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