The Maple Leafs to do list for 2022
Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Barden11 months ago
The Maple Leafs are a good hockey team, but they can always be better.
At the beginning of every year, New Year’s Resolution’s are made, whether it be written, spoken or typed. For Toronto, it’s difficult to pick resolutions when they’ve played good all season.
A 22-8-2 record, @Jack Campbell leading the way with elite goaltending, @Auston Matthews scoring like usual, and @William Nylander producing at a career-high rate. Even @Morgan Rielly is having a career season with 27 points in 32 games.
Toronto doesn’t look like they’re struggling.
As some might say ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, but this is more of an improvement article more than anything. This article has just as much to do with the players as it does Maple Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas.
So, let’s discuss.
1. Make a trade
Many have said it, and yes, it’ll need to happen — the Maple Leafs have to make a trade.
Last month, DailyFaceoff’s own Frank Seravalli came out with a trade target list which included some intriguing players. I wouldn’t say the Maple Leafs need a game-changing player, but maybe someone with a Stanley Cup winning past. Or maybe, a player who can just make a difference in the playoffs.
Enter @Tomas Hertl. The 28-year-old has 26 points in 31 games this season and would be a good fit in the Maple Leafs’ top six. He’s in the final year of a four-year, $22.5 million contract, which would allow Toronto to use him as a rental.
Hertl has a lot of playoff experience, playing in 62 games and scoring 42 points. He could be one of the difference makers the Maple Leafs need to finally have success in the post-season.
2. Re-sign Jack Campbell
The 29-year-old has a .939 save percentage in 25 games this season. I don’t know what else I have to say.
One positive is that @Phil Kessel’s retained salary of $1.2 million comes off the books after this season. That will allow the Maple Leafs to put some money aside for Campbell if the right deal comes about.
It’s essential that Toronto signs the 29-year-old before the regular season ends. Similar to Rielly’s contract. If they manage to do that, all focus can remain on the team and their playoff success.
What I’m most curious to see is what number Dubas can get Campbell at.
@Petr Mrazek has two years remaining after this season at $3.8 million. If Campbell signs at anything above $5 million, the Maple Leafs will have almost $9 million locked up in goaltending.
I doubt that’s something they’d want to do.
The most possible option to keep Campbell at this point is to either get him at a cheaper contract or move Mrázek. I’m surprised Toronto signed the 29-year-old when they knew Campbell’s contract needed to be renewed a season later. But, here we are.
It’ll be interesting to see what the Maple Leafs do on this front.
3. Win a playoff round
I believe that even if Toronto doesn’t do anything, their team is still good enough to win a round. However, I also think that following my two-step rule above will allow them to have more playoff success than just winning one round.
Maybe I’m wrong and they win more than one round without making trade. That would be something.
One of the difficulties of predicting this right now is that injuries can always factor into this. Every team’s plans change if a player becomes injured.
Barring any injuries, if the Maple Leafs can add a player who can add to this lineup, there’ll be success. If Toronto can also re-sign Campbell before the playoffs, their chances of triumph will rise.
Everything, though, depends on your perception of success.
Would the Maple Leafs winning one round make their fans happy? Yes. But, imagine if they won more than one round. Fans would be flying on cloud-nine, and it would be a nice change of scenery for everyone in the city.
Imagine if they went all the way? Okay, I’ll stop.
It’ll be interesting to see what Toronto does over the next few months, and if they check any of my boxes off.
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