With the uncertain fate surrounding the 2019-20 season, we consider five what if scenarios for the Toronto Maple Leafs involving the likes of Auston Matthews, Mike Babcock and more.
As the spread of COVID-19 continues, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the rest of the NHL are left with an ongoing feeling of uncertainty. When will the league be in a realistic position to return to action?
The answer to this is key, as it will determine what to do with the remainder of the 2019-20 season. There are several options on the table at this stage.
This includes completing the regular season (the least likely of all the options being considered), shortening and getting every team to – for example – 72 games, or just deciding the final standings based on a points per game played percentage. In respect of the actual playoffs, scenarios include keeping them as they are, shortening or increasing the number of teams who qualify and having fewer games per series.
Which direction the NHL takes will also have an impact on when the 2020-21 campaign would begin; every possible outcome is on the table at this juncture. In this respect, we also have to prepare ourselves for the possibility the current season could even be cancelled altogether.
While this would be a shock to many, it would not be the first time this has happened. Consider that the 1919 Stanley Cup finals were cancelled after five games due to the outbreak of Spanish flu, while the 2004-05 season was lost due to a lockout.
With this in mind, we’re going look at the Leafs’ season as if it’s not going to restart. We count down five what if scenarios for the 2019-20 campaign based on if it is cancelled:
5) Did the Leafs finally have a reliable back-up goaltender?
The Leafs have been on a quest to find a solid backup goalie since losing Curtis McElhinney. The team gambled by placing him on waivers and they lost that gamble after he was claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes.
This leads to the question of if Jack Campbell is now the man? Based purely on the statistics, the evidence appears to indicate he is indeed the solution.
Compared to Frederik Andersen and Michael Hutchinson, the 28-year-old has a better save percentage and goals allowed average this season when suiting up for the Leafs. Further, he has achieved this while facing more shots per game than his fellow goaltenders.
Certainly, you can see why the Dallas Stars selected Campbell 11th overall in the 2010 draft. He has the talent, the size and the athleticism, along with an abundance of confidence.
However, this doesn’t quite yet guarantee the Leafs have found themselves a reliable backup. The Port Huron, Michigan native has only played six games this season for Toronto and in relation to this, he is renowned for being inconsistent.
Examples of this inconsistency can be found in how shaky Campbell looked during his first start for the Leafs, while also conceding four goals in a loss against the San Jose Sharks. Contrast this with superior efforts against both the Montreal Canadiens and Arizona Coyotes, when both games went to overtime.
Fortunately for the Leafs, this is a what if scenario which can still be answered even if the 2019-20 season does eventually get cancelled. Campbell does not become an unrestricted free agent until after the 2021-22 campaign (save for the possibility of Seattle picking him in the expansion draft).