The Leafs Offer Canada’s Best Stanley Cup Hope This Season
The NHL season is well underway and teams have started to work out their place in the standings as the season really begins to heat up. The race for the Stanley Cup appears to be wide open, with no truly strong favorite emerging right now, and a whole host of teams will fancy their chances of being involved when we reach the finals in June.
There are eight teams with odds of less than +2000 to win the Stanley Cup, and just one of them is a team from Canada. That is the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are priced up at +800 to win the Stanley Cup with William Hill Canada. The Colorado Avalanche are favorites at +550, and then three teams are tied with odds of +800 behind them, the Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights and Tampa Bay Lightning.
Of those teams, only the Tampa Bay Lightning have any recent winning experience, as they landed a second consecutive Stanley Cup last season, and in terms of winning experience on their roster, no one else can match that.
What the Leafs will be focusing on is the fact that every player who wins the cup has to do so for the first time at some point, will this be the year that the franchise can land its first Stanley Cup since 1967?
What Makes the Leafs Special?
The Leafs roster is built around their top-end scoring talent, led by Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Alongside that, John Tavares offers another high end scoring piece, and in past years, we have seen the Leafs win by outscoring other teams.
Many have questioned whether that is the right strategy to win a Stanley Cup, and this season we have seen a change from them. They have the emerging Jack Campbell in goal as covered by The Hockey Writers, and a defensive unit that is playing much better than anything we have seen from the Leafs in the past two or three years.
Jack Campbell at home since joining the Leafs
Save Percentage .927
Shutouts 4 pic.twitter.com/TIE4n05Pj6
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 2, 2022
This team looks and feels different, despite being very similar in terms of personnel to what the Leafs have shown over the past couple of seasons.
Can Any Other Canadian Teams Compete?
If there is anyone else in Canada capable of competing this season then the only two realistic options are the Edmonton Oilers and the Winnipeg Jets.
The Oilers still have their struggles defensively, and in goal, but with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, they have two of the best players in the entire league. Defensive changes would give them a chance, but they need to come before this team can seriously be considered.
The Winnipeg Jets have had bad injury luck to start the season, a year in which they were supposed to prove themselves. Should they ever get healthy, more is to come from this franchise, and it will be interesting to see how quickly they climb, should that happen.
These two have work to do but the Leafs don’t, we’ve seen their best and it may just be good enough.