Will Tavares, Matthews help Leafs raise trophy?
The signing of star center John Tavares this summer by the Toronto Maple Leafs has them hyped as one of the favorites to win the Stanley Cup Trophy for the 2018-19 season. Will Toronto become the first Canadian team since 1993 to win the NHL's top prize?
Tavares had spent his entire career to date with the New York Islanders, which selected him first overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. In his last season in New York, he amassed 37 goals and 47 assists but was a minus-12 on a mediocre team. For his career, Tavares has racked up 272 goals and 349 assists over 669 games. He has played in 24 postseason contests and totaled 11 goals along with 11 assists.
According to oddsmakers, Toronto now has the second-best odds to win the Stanley Cup at 9-1. The Tampa Bay Lightning have the best odds at 7-1, while three teams come in at 10-1 - the Nashville Predators, Boston Bruins and defending champion Washington Capitals. Check out our NHL Future Odds Page for a complete list of teams.
Tavares will be joined on the Maple Leafs by another star in 2016 first overall pick Auston Matthews (pictured above). Matthews recorded 34 goals and 29 assists in 62 games last season, missing some time with a shoulder injury. He played his second career playoff series against the Boston Bruins, a grueling seven-game series that Toronto ultimately lost. Matthews had a goal and an assist in the series.
Toronto should rank amongst the top offenses in the NHL once again as long as Matthews and Tavares stay healthy. There is plenty of talent up front around them as well. The question mark for Toronto comes at the back end as they could use little more talent in the defensemen area, while goaltender Frederik Andersen tends to run hot and cold as shown in the postseason against the Bruins. He had a 2.81 goals-against average and .918 save percentage during the regular season.
While the Maple Leafs should outscore plenty of opponents in the regular season, those high-scoring games in the playoffs won't always get it done. Look for Toronto to perhaps make a trade at some point before the season or by the trade deadline to try and acquire a key defenseman.