Why The Future Of The Leafs Is Bright
While this season may be done, perhaps it could result in some good fortunes for the Leafs. Why? The Leafs have a chance to draft a generational talent, who is named Connor McDavid. Even if the Leafs don't pick him, they finally have a chance to draft the long awaited number one center that fans have been dying for since Sundin left town.
This potential franchise changing moment is just one of the many examples as to why I believe that good luck may finally be heading the Leafs way. Let's get things started.
McDavid? Eichel? Strome? Course? A NUMBER ONE CENTER!
What can I say? The Leafs probably picked the best season to be really bad. The playoff mirage was a blast and last season was exciting, but nothing could compare to how dramatic it would be if the Leafs were able to snatch up the greatest franchise savoir any team could ask for since Crosby saved the Penguins 10 years ago.
The only problem that the Leafs face is that if they REALLY want McDavid, they have to either A) Lose every single remaining game, B) Hope that the Sabres, Coyotes, and Oilers among others somehow start winning, and 3) They win the draft lottery. If all three don't happen (which seems likely), the Leafs have the privilege to draft other amazing talent like Strome, Kyle Connor, and Lawson Course.
Regardless of which center the Leafs draft, they will be getting the superstar talent down the middle many fans have been dying for, and will be a key contributor to the Leafs' long term success.
Everyone already knows how awesome Morgan Rielly is, and he has really be a wonderful surprise to me in terms of how quickly he has established himself as a legitimate top pair defenseman. But Rielly is not the only young gun that makes fans excited for the future.
In fact, many of the Leafs prospects have shown flashes of brilliance and the potential to contribute with the big club in the not-to-distant future. Obviously William Nylander is the most important prospect of all, and his play with the Marlies so far is proof of that.
But he is not alone. Forwards Connor Brown, newly acquired Brandon Leipsic, Josh Leivo, and Gregg McKegg, as well as defenseman Stuart Percy, Matt Finn, Viktor Loov, and Petter Granberg, and goalie Antoine Bibeau have really made a case for themselves as important prospects in the system.
Of course, we cannot forget the prospects still in junior Fredrick Gauthier, Carter Verhaeghe, Rinat Valiev, and Cody Donaghey, and suddenly the Leafs have an exciting group of young guns. And with two first round draft picks in this years draft and many others acquired via trade, the Leafs prospect pool continues to get stronger and gain more respect around the league.
The Young Guns Already Here
As previously mentioned, Morgan Rielly is awesome. What is more awesome is that I get to see plays like the one above for a good 13 years.
And Rielly is not alone. His best bud Jake Gardiner has also shown flashes of being a great defenseman. Although he has not been producing at the rate he usually does at this time of the season (see last season for reference), he is still a vital portion of the defense and should be in Hog Town for a while.
Kadri also counts in this category as he still only 24. Even at that age, he has proven that he can be a key component down the middle with consistent point production for the last few seasons. Yes, he was late for a meeting recently, but Kadri should be a really good second liner (see the first point) once the team comes to fruition. Even JVR deserves to be on this list, but he only barely makes it as he will soon be 26. Despite that, he has proven time and time again that the Flyers made a horrible choice in trading him back in 2012, He is now a star and will be a leader on this team in the not-to-distant future.
Other players that deserve mentioning include Peter Holland, who I think was a steal in that trade with the Ducks almost 2 years ago, Brandon Kozun, the pre-season favourite who hasn't been himself since an early injury, Tim Erixon who has played well so far in his short tenure here, and Richard Panik, perhaps the best waiver grab of the last few years.
There is no other person in the Leafs organization who has been a huge excitement as Brendan Shanahan. Since being hired at the end of last season, he has fired pretty much everyone who represented the Burke years (with the exception of Nonis), brought in a new mindset to the club with Mark Hunter, Kyle Dubas keeping eye on the analytics and upcoming prospects respectively, Steve Spott and Steve Staios on the bench as assistant coaches, and
Mike Babcock Dan Bylsma Peter Horacheck heading the bench.
While his time with the Buds has been nearly one year, Shanahan has really done a lot to turn the ship towards a brighter future. By having the "scorched earth" plan go into full effect at the past deadline which saw Franson, Santorelli, Winnik, Jokinen, and Holzer on another team in exchange for prospects and draft picks, he is committed to having a winning culture in the Cup starved town.
Not bad Shanahan, not bad at all.
This is season has been a disappointment and is pretty much over, so why not focus on what lies ahead. Because focusing on what is wrong with the team is just like beating a dead horse. We know that they were horrendous this season, so it is time to move and look to the future.
Because the future sure looks brighter then the present. For now though, hopefully you guys will be able to survive the last 13 games of this season and have fun while doing it. Because at the end of the day, it is just a game, and it is the best damn game out there.
Happy Tanking my fellow fans!
P.S. It has been 1 year since I wrote that article on the win against the Kings, which marked the birth of this blog! I would like to personally thank you guys for supporting this page so far and look forward to more posts! I do apologize for the lack of post lately, but I promise to write more before the season draws to a close.