Because It's The Cap: Toronto Maple Leafs Offseason Preview

Scott Maxwell
June 08 2017 12:00PM

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© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing last place in 2015-16 and winning the draft lottery, the Toronto Maple Leafs had little to no expectations for this year. Many, in fact, expected no different than the previous season, despite the fact they improved in terms of scoring depth and goaltending, their two biggest flaws in their last place season. However, their were a few more optimistic fans who made sure their opinions were heard, and made the case that the Leafs, in fact, were actually a good team.

And actually good this team was. With the help of the three-headed-monster in Toronto in Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and William Nylander, veteran scoring from James van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak, and solid goaltending from Frederik Andersen, the Leafs snuck into a playoff spot and took the President's trophy winning Washington Capitals to six games before bowing out of the postseason, giving everyone a taste of what's to come.

Now, the Leafs probably have the easiest offseason ahead of them. With their expansion draft situation causing very little problems, very few contracts that need to be resigned on their main roster, and a ton of cap space, with about $10.5 million in LTIR available at their expense, the Leafs have the chance to load up for the next couple years while their best players are on entry level deals, and if they play their cards right, they could be looking at Cup contention as soon as next year.

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NHL Second Round Playoff Preview: St. Louis Blues vs. Nashville Predators

Scott Maxwell
April 25 2017 02:04PM

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© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

And here begins the only predictable second round matchup. It was easy picking both of these teams to advance to the second round, as they both dominated the Western Conference this year. Both of these teams are unstoppable monsters, and even though it will also be a close series, I can only see Chicago coming out of it and winning the Cup.

Wait, this isn't Chicago and Minnesota? But I was told by everyone that Chicago was going to the Cup finals, even though Chicago-Nashville was still going to be a close series, and if not them, then Minnesota. Wait, Chicago got swept? Minnesota almost did too? Then who am I previewing? St. Louis-Nashville? Well, this will be more interesting.

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NHL First Round Playoff Preview: Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs

Scott Maxwell
April 13 2017 10:16AM

Here ye, here ye, let me tell you the tale of David and Goliath. In the words of the ancient prophet who hails from Toronto, Drake, the Toronto Maple Leafs "started from the bottom, now we here". The Maple Leafs finished in last place, and despite upgrading their goaltending and goal scoring, with those being their biggest problems in their last place finish, many still picked the Leafs to finish bottom five. However, they proved everyone wrong (except Jeff Veillette), on route to their best season in the cap era, thanks to young rookies Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.

Meanwhile, the Washington Capitals had another Goliath season, with their second consecutive Presidents trophy. And as if the team wasn't good enough, they added Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline to an already stacked team. They had a slight bump after that, but are red hot going into the post season to face the inexperienced Maple Leafs.

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NHL First Round Playoff Preview: Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues

Scott Maxwell
April 12 2017 02:45PM

Ladies and gents, we have ourselves a choke-off. 

In one corner, we have the Minnesota Wild, who in four years of making the playoffs, have a grand total of two wins past the first round. In the other corner, we have the St. Louis Blues, who in five years of making the playoffs, finally made it to the Conference Finals last year. Both teams have reputations that they don't want, and this series is a great place to start. The Blues are in a transition period, while the Wild are looking at a closing window.

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NHL First Round Playoff Preview: Ottawa Senators vs. Boston Bruins

Scott Maxwell
April 11 2017 12:00PM

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© Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

This is part of a playoff preview series based at  NHLNumbers.com

Looks like we got a battle of analytics vs. eye test right here. On one end, we have the Boston Bruins, who lead the league in score adjusted Corsi For%, and under performed for a good chunk of the season, due to a low shooting percentage, and poor goaltending from the backup position. On the other end, we have the Ottawa Senators, the worst playoff team in score adjusted Corsi For%, and over performed because, well, they have a god on their team. A beautiful, Swedish god by the name of Erik Karlsson. And some average goaltending.

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