by James Tanner
An article for the Hammer
The Toronto Maple Leafs are off to a good start to the 2019-20 NHL season.The Toronto Maple Leafs opening schedule included games against NHL powerhouses Boston, Tampa, San Jose and St. Louis.
They had to play the hated rival Montreal Canadiens twice.
They played every game so far with anywhere between two and four core players missing from their lineup.
They had to play four back-to-backs, including three in 12 days.
And yet, they came out of it with a record over .500.
Honestly, their performance so far shows heart, resiliency, determination and character. If not for a strong portion of the NHL wanting them to fail for daring to do things a bit differently, they would be declared as such by the main stream media and their sheep.
Alas the job falls to me.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, all things considered, have been excellent.
4th in the NHL in Corsi-For percentage.
4th in Scoring-Chance-for percentage.
They are 22nd in the NHL with a 98 PDO (measures luck).
So in case you’re wondering, this team with everything stacked against them, has the record of a playoff team despite getting objectively and powerfully unlucky in their results.
I’d say that’s the making of a Stanley Cup Contender.
And despite unearned criticism, Kyle Dubas has proven himself to be the NHL’s best GM. He put this team together, after all. He’s the one with the character and bravery to stand against hockey’s conservative dogma and try something new.
And it’s working. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
Dubas Has Been Near PerfectFirst, before Lamoriello was hired, Dubas authored the Phil Kessel trade, which turned out to be one of the best trades in modern NHL history, setting the Leafs up to get Freddie Andersen and Auston Matthews.
The trade netted the Leafs Kasperi Kapanen, and they used the draft pick to help acquire Andersen. The trade made the team so bad (at the time) it paved the way to finish last and get Auston Matthews.
Most GM’s – let alone untitled rookies – wouldn’t have had the guts to retain six years of salary, let alone trading the franchise player.
Since being officially named GM, he is the only GM in hockey to get his team a #1 C (Tavares) 2 x #1 D (Muzzin, Barrie) and don’t forget, he retained his entire core of 3 x young superstars, even though no one said he could.
Did he overpay for Marner? Sure, but that’s better than losing him. Plus, Matthews deal was team friendly before it even started, and Nylander’s is already a massive bargain.
He also brought you Ilya Mikheyev.
He hit three straight draft home runs (Liljegren, Sandin, Robertson), somehow giving the team with an all-star lineup of players in their prime one of the league’s best prospect pools.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are – under his express plan – the team with the best roster in the NHL, and they’ve got a solid farm system.
Dubas gets a 10/10 so far.
The results are going to start going favorably for the Leafs, and they are going to be glorious.
The Leafs don’t need more balance. They don’t need to trade any of their young players. Kyle Dubas is a boss. It’s going to be hilarious to watch everyone try to get back on the band wagon.
Next: Should Leafs Trade or Fire Anyone?
Look for the boys to go on a major streak soon. Look for them to win both the President’s Trophy and the Stanley Cup.