The Toronto Maple Leafs had a fantastic season where they exceeded everyone’s expectations. And now, Leafs Nation is super hyped about next season, myself included. Before you enter next season, you have to lower your expectations. This team is really good, but they are still young, and last season was more than anyone expected. That means that next season can be a huge disappointment to many Leafs fans who expect too much from this team. Look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. They were Cup favourites before the season started and then they were hit with devastating injuries and didn’t even make it to the playoffs.
The Leafs had nine players who played a full season:
- Auston Matthews
- James van Riemsdyk
- Nazem Kadri
- Jake Gardiner
- Connor Brown
- Nikita Zaitsev
- Leo Komarov
- Zach Hyman
- Matt Martin
There’s no way that the Leafs even make it to the playoffs if these players missed significant time due to injury. I hate to be the negative person, but these players will definitely not all be 100% healthy for the entire season next year.
Historically, players in their second season are not as good. This is a result of many factors like:
Fatigue: The NHL season is a tough grind. It’s long and violent which could leave the player feeling sore and depleted weeks after the season is over.
Over-confidence: If you performed really well in your first year, you would expect to have the same – if not more success than you did before. The success could easily get to your head, making you think that you figured the league out on your first try. It isn’t that easy,
The league gets used to the player: When a player first arrives in the NHL, there isn’t a lot of information about them. After a year in the league, there are tons of videos and advanced scouting reports and then it’s the league’s turn to adapt and combat the young phenom.
I’m not saying that the Leafs won’t be playoff contenders next season, I am simply trying to tone down the hype in Leafs Nation. It’s good to have hope, but don’t forget that we are in the second year of the rebuild. There’s still a lot more that needs to get done before we start talking about a Stanley Cup.
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