Maple Leafs rebuild on fast track with Marner & Matthews
The state of the Maple Leafs organization over the last 10 seasons has been abysmal to say the least. Just one playoff appearance, an early exit to the Bruins in 2013.
And Leafs fans will not soon forget that game 7 meltdown.
But with a new year comes new hope, and the Leafs rebuild seems to be ahead of schedule.
We'll start with the rookies.
The Leafs average age on the team is 25.8 years old. Nearly two years under the league average of 27.9 years. What does that mean for the way the Leafs play the game?
Its faster now.
Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are #1 and #2 respectively in rookie scoring, while Matthews leads the league in goals for a rookie with 22. As for William Nylander? He slots in at fourth in the league with 30 points on the season, behind only his teammates and Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets,
The Leafs have four players on pace to score 60 points this season, Marner and Matthews included, alongside James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri. Just a year ago, only two players managed to break 40.
That's tremendous production from the young guys.
And lets not forget about Zach Hyman or Connor Brown. Not as flashy as the three mentioned a fore, but both have 21 points in the 2017 campaign. And perhaps most importantly, the head coach loves them.
And speaking of Mike Babcock?
Remember when the Leafs bench boss famously warned fans about “pain” that was to come in the rebuild? A 30th place season just a year ago, made it look as if the process was going to be a long hard grind.
But that last place finish ended up turning into Auston Matthews.
Not a bad consolation prize.
And one year later?
The Leafs have an 11 point improvement from this point in the season last year. They are on pace to score 54 more goals, and special teams have seen a big improvement.
The Leafs have the second ranked power play behind Columbus converting on just over 24% of opportunities.
Their penalty kill is ranked 4th killing 85.2% of penalties against them.
Special teams alone can win you games. And the for the Leafs it's paying dividends.
Good job coach.
Toronto currently see's itself sitting in 3rd place in the East. One point ahead of Boston with five games in hand. If they can keep it up, a playoff birth will be in their future.
And perhaps, with a little luck, the fans can move on from the game seven meltdown.