3 Reasons the Maple Leafs Will Win the Stanley Cup

The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the favourites to win the Stanley Cup in 2023. However, fans have heard that one before. This team has looked good on paper for the last couple of seasons. In fact, it set franchise regular season records for victories and points last year. However, that hasn’t mattered in the playoffs as it’s been a first-round exit, year after year. That pattern is set to change in a big way.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Celebrate Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner Celebrate a Goal (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Yes, I’ve been critical of the front office this off-season. But a roster is not set in the spring and summer, nor is a championship won in the summer. So there is still plenty of time to make moves to win the 14th Stanley Cup in team history.

Dubas and Shanahan are in the Last Dance

There is no better way to describe the situation facing the general manager and president than this now cliche line. It is the last dance. Likely a second-round berth would be enough to keep their jobs for next season. Yet, at this point, it should be a championship or bust. The brain trust of the blue and white will probably not be so cautious this season with guarding the future. This team has prospects and draft capital it can and should spend if needed.

Related: Maple Leafs 2022-23 Regular Season About Nothing

Several questions ahead of training camp can’t be answered until the players are on the ice. Will the new guys get along with the old dogs? Which players will click and find some chemistry? Will the goalies look better than the statistics show? Until the rubber meets the ice and these guys put the blades on, no one can judge how good, or bad the offseason was for the Leafs. That said, the front office has to be ready to react, and it will be more inclined to mortgage the future.

Auston Matthews Time is Ticking

Don’t look now, but Auston Matthews has two years remaining on his contract. Without a doubt, he will be the highest-paid player in the NHL when he signs his new deal. The kid that many already consider the best ever to wear the Maple Leafs’ jersey is a reason Toronto wins the Cup this year.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs Andrei Vasilevskiy Tampa Bay Lightning
Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning makes a save on Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

This somewhat relates to the first reason. If you’re Matthews, you watch the front office moves. He has to be assessing if this team can win a championship. So, it’s up to Dubas to prove the club is a Cup contender. He has to show his star Toronto is willing to do whatever it takes to get the resources needed. That will not only make extension talks easier but will keep the best player around for the final two years of his deal.

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But Matthews has a couple more years to keep padding those stats en route to becoming the highest-paid NHLer. He has several individual awards, but adding a Stanley Cup championship to his resume would push his stock even higher. The odds are this guy will be breaking his records and putting this team on his back.

Sheldon Keefe is Developing at a Quick Pace

It’s easy to forget that Sheldon Keefe is entering only his third season as an NHL coach. He’s enjoyed some incredible success during his short tenure in Toronto, other than the playoff failures. Keefe, like his buddy Dubas, is a student of the game. He has been learning what it takes to win in the playoffs. Keefe had a first-hand look at that last April when two-time Stanley Cup winner Jon Cooper was on the other bench. Keefe has improved as a coach and ordered the kind of players. He’s been equipped with positionally sound depth players to do their assignments and let the stars do the rest. Keefe is set for a breakthrough, as is his team.

Finally, it’s not an official reason, but at some point, the suffering must stop, and the longest championship drought in the league has to come to an end. The Maple Leafs’ training camp opens in late September. The preseason kicks off with a split-squad doubleheader against the Ottawa Senators on September 24. This will be the beginning of the franchise’s best chance of winning the Stanley Cup in more than half of a century.

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