The 2023-24 NHL season is rapidly approaching. The Toronto Maple Leafs will play their first game on Oct. 11 against the Montreal Canadiens in a much-anticipated Original Six matchup. Thus, with the regular season being so close, let’s have some fun and discuss four Maple Leafs bold player predictions for the 2023-24 campaign.
John Klingberg Hits 50-Plus Assists
When it was announced that the Maple Leafs signed John Klingberg, it was met with mixed opinions. Although he is not the bruising right-shot defenseman that the Maple Leafs would love to have, he should still be a good addition to this group. In fact, when looking at the Maple Leafs roster, Klingberg has the potential to hit at least 50 assists for the second time in his career. The one time he did was back in 2017-18 with the Dallas Stars when he had 59.
Klingberg’s offensive numbers have decreased a bit over the last few seasons. In 67 games last season split between the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild, he had 10 goals and 32 points. However, the Maple Leafs have several stars like Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, and Mitch Marner to work with, so don’t be surprised to see Klingberg’s numbers shoot back up. This is especially so when noting that he will be on their top power-play unit.
Tyler Bertuzzi Sets New Career High With 70-Plus Points
Tyler Bertuzzi is another new Maple Leafs addition who should make a huge impact. The 28-year-old winger is expected to play top-six minutes, likely on the first line with Matthews and Marner. When noting that Bertuzzi is going to have a ton to work with offensively, don’t be surprised if he sets a new career high by hitting at least 70 points this season.
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Following his move to the Boston Bruins last season, Bertuzzi showed he can produce at a high rate while playing with stars, something the Detroit Red Wings did not offer him. After posting 16 points in 21 regular-season games with Boston, he excelled during the playoffs, scoring five goals and posting 10 points in seven contests. Expect to see his playoff production translate over to the 2023-24 regular season while playing for an extremely talented Maple Leafs squad.
Ilya Samsonov Hits 35 Wins
After an up-and-down tenure with the Washington Capitals, Ilya Samsonov took a huge step forward in his development as a Maple Leaf in 2022-23. Appearing in 42 games, the 2015 first-round pick posted a 27-10-5 record, a 2.33 goals-against average (GAA), and a .919 save percentage (SV%). Overall, he had a very good season, but I expect him to improve further in 2023-24 and win 35 games for the Maple Leafs in 2023-24.
Samsonov showed last season that he can be an effective starting netminder, and this is a trend that we should see continue this campaign. However, now that he is more acclimated with the Maple Leafs after spending a full season there, don’t be surprised if he takes another step forward in 2023-24.
Matthews Scores 60 Goals Again
In 74 games last season, Matthews posted 40 goals and 85 points. This was excellent production from the 25-year-old center, but at the same time, it was lower than his previous two seasons. In 2020-21, he memorably had 41 goals in just 52 games. He then followed that up with 60 goals and 106 points in 73 games in 2021-22. As a result of his past offensive dominance, don’t be surprised if Matthews once again scores at least 60 goals in 2023-24.
Matthews will once again have star forwards like Nylander, Marner, and Tavares to work with. With that, Bertuzzi and Max Domi have been added to the group as strong supporting players. As a result, Matthews is in a real place to succeed in 2023-24, and 60 goals is absolutely not out of the question. Perhaps we could see him even reach 65.
We will need to wait and see how many of these Maple Leafs’ bold player predictions come to fruition in 2023-24. No matter if they do or not, expect Toronto to be among the top teams in the NHL standings yet again.