Every Toronto Maple Leafs fan is hoping the team finds playoff success in 2021.
It’s the holiday season and on Christmas Day, there will be a lot of gifts exchanged and probably some Toronto Maple Leafs merchandise getting unwrapped.
If you ask every Maple Leafs’ fans what would be on their wishlist for the team heading into 2021, it’s to finally see them make a run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season presents a unique opportunity for Toronto given how the division realignment puts the Canadian teams in a better chance to move on in the playoffs but that is also dependent on them finally getting over the hump.
Looking at what the team did in the off-season, there is no reason why the Leafs shouldn’t be a tougher team to play against and addressing the blue line in free agency with more reputable defenders. They also didn’t go after the flashy free agent signing and hopefully, the constant talk about their star players needing new contracts shouldn’t distract the team heading into the season.
There will be some tough competition in the North Division with the Western Canadian teams all getting into the play-in tournament while the Montreal Canadiens joined the Leafs and did manage to make it further. There isn’t a team that took a significant step back when you look at the moves that were made.
So how do the Leafs make it past the first round after years of disappointing exits? It really starts with the team’s core players stepping up when the team needs them the most. Look no further than when Sheldon Keefe played John Tavares, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the same line and them not being able to capitalize on their chances and the trickle-down effect it had on the roster was too much to overcome.
On top of that, Frederik Andersen is going into this season looking to prove himself and earn a new contract. Nothing will tell the Leafs that they need to get Andersen signed to a new deal than seeing him dominate the playoffs.
Even Joe Thornton, who played against Andersen when he was with Anaheim Ducks, says he loves what the Leafs’ netminder brings to the table. There is also the uncertainty of what the two KHL additions in Mikko Lehtonen and Alexander Barabanov can provide.
What is on your Christmas wishlist for the Leafs? Do you expect them to find success in the playoffs this season? Let us know in the comments below.