Mike Babcock, Auston Matthews, and the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs made impressive strides last season.
That’s fantastic, but one of the biggest challenges in sports is making that leap from “good” to “great.” The Maple Leafs won’t sneak up on anyone in trying to clear that hurdle in 2017-18.
The Maple Leafs made the type of moves you’ll often see with a team that views itself as a contender.
Rather than seeking even more young talent, the Maple Leafs handed almost $10 million annually to the veteran duo of Patrick Marleau (37 years old) and Ron Hainsey (36). With some big contract decisions looming as Matthews and others will soon see entry-level deals dry up, Toronto invested in some pricey, older players who’ve experienced virtually everything you can in the sport.
Big expectations are likely to come with significant spending and dramatic improvements.
Some will be disappointed if the Maple Leafs fail to win the Atlantic Division, or most importantly, fall in the first round once again.
Fair or not, the bar is much higher this time around. If nothing else, this team is likely to be a blast to watch once again.
And they’ll probably be a little scary for the East’s other hopeful contenders.
PHT will dive into the biggest factors for Toronto heading into 2017-18 on Friday, so buckle up.