The Toronto Maple Leafs made a franchise-changing move this summer signing John Tavares through free agency.
Adding Tavares to a core that already includes Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Patrick Marleau, and Nazem Kadri makes the Leafs one of the most offensively potent teams in the Eastern Conference.
Some even feel that the Leafs are not far off from being a serious contender in the NHL.
In the spirit of the new NHL season, let’s have some fun and make crazy predictions about this team heading into 2018/19.
Crazy prediction #1:
Tyler Ennis will score a career-high 60 points.
Tyler Ennis is a potential low-risk, high-reward addition for the Maple Leafs this season.
After being bought out by the Minnesota Wild this summer, the Leafs were able to bring in the 28-year-old on a cheap one-year $650,000 contract.
It is obvious that Ennis has been dealing with injuries over the past few years. But when healthy, he has shown that the can score in this league; hitting the 20-goal plateau three times in his NHL career.
With his offensive skill set and finishing ability, Ennis might be able to have a bounce-back season and become an excellent complimentary piece.
With William Nylander still unsigned, Ennis could see plenty of time playing alongside Auston Matthews or John Tavares. As a result, this provides a wonderful opportunity for him to put up career numbers across the board.
Crazy prediction #2:
Auston Matthews will score over 85 points.
At only 21-years-old and heading into his third NHL season, many expect Auston Matthews to continue to get better and be more dominant than he was in his first two seasons.
With John Tavares in the mix, this likely opens up the ice for Matthews as well. Opposing teams will likely have to divide their defensive attention on the many offensive weapons on the Leafs offense, therefore lessening the tough matchups Matthews will have to face.
On top of that, if the Leafs decide to occasionally put their two-star centers together, Matthews goals and assist may come even easier.
At this point, there is a lot of like about Matthew’s upside, and if he is able to stay healthy, a 40 goal, and career-high 85 point season should be an attainable goal for number 34 next season.
Crazy prediction #3:
The Leafs will trade a for a top-pairing defenseman.
This has been a looming concern for this team for a long time. The Leafs almost beat the Boston Bruins in the playoffs last year, but many people feel like their lack of defensive depth might have cost them the series.
As good as Morgan Rielly and Nikita Zaitsev, adding another legitimate top-four defensive core can only make their blueline that much better.
Now the real question is what the Leafs are willing to give up to attain help for their blue-line.
At this point it’s anyone’s guess, so William Nylander’s name might be on that list. Especially, if he goes unsigned or the Leafs can’t agree on a deal, it makes no sense for them to keep him on the sidelines for the whole season.
Overall, it is uncertain if a Nylander alone could fetch the Leafs a legitimate top-four defenseman, but at the same time, it might be enough to start trade talks with several teams around the NHL.
Crazy prediction #4:
John Tavares will score over 90 points.
John Tavares has a career high of 86 points and 38 goals back in 2014/15. All in all, he has been on the most consistent scorers in the NHL for much of the past decade.
Fresh from signing a massive long-term deal, Tavares looks as determined as ever to help make the Leafs a legit Stanley Cup contender.
Playing for a coach like Mike Babcock should also help Tavares to maximize his potential as one of the best centers in the NHL.
Tavares has plenty of talent surrounding him including the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri, and Patrick Marleau, who are all capable of putting the puck in the net.
With no shortage of finishers around number 91, the offense shouldn't be a problem for this team, and if Tavares is able to take his game to the next level he could have the best season of his NHL career in 2018/19.
Crazy prediction #5:
The Toronto Maple Leafs will make the Eastern Conference finals.
On paper, it looks like the Leafs should be good enough to be a top-three team in their division. Scoring and goaltending shouldn't be a problem, and if they can find a way to improve their defense, one must like their chances of being a very competitive team in their east.
After adding a star-caliber player like Tavares on their roster, an early first-round exit would be somewhat of a disappointment for this team.
Assuming that this group is able to come together, with a new outlook and an improved overall team play, they might have what it takes to go on a deep run next season.
As we have seen last year, a team like the Washington Capitals were finally able to get over the hump. So simply put, anything is possible into today’s NHL and little reason not to believe the Maple Leafs can’t make the Eastern Conference Finals next year.
Do you agree with the predictions? Do you think the Leafs will win the cup this year? Let us know in the comment section below, and make sure to give us a follow on Twitter (@VAVELNHL_ENG) for more updates!