Maple Leafs’ Dream Team of Current & Former Active Players

Ever wonder what a lineup of your favourite team would look like if they didn’t trade away that young talent too soon or were able to bring back that top-end player that left in free agency? Well, look no further because this series is designed to analyze all the former and current active players that have played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and form the best lineup from that list. It will look at where the players are right now in their careers and show what a dream team of all the best players to come through the organization would look like today. This is, of course, not taking into account the salaries of the players, so think of it as ‘Be a GM’ mode in a video game where the salary cap is turned off. Enjoy.

Forwards Currently Playing for the Maple Leafs

Part of the first line of the Maple Leafs is a lock for this team as Auston Matthews has won three of the past four Rocket Richard Trophies and took home the 2022 Hart Trophy. He is undoubtedly the best goalscorer in the NHL right now and should lead the league in goals many more times before his career is over. Mitch Marner is right beside him and is one of the best point-getters in the league, as well, as he set a career-high in goals (35) in 2021-22 and points (99) in 2022-23, just missing the century mark.

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Two-thirds of the Maple Leafs’ second line also gets the nod for this dream team as they all recorded 50-plus points. John Tavares may be past his prime and slowing down on his feet, but he is still effective, finishing 2022-23 just under a point per game. William Nylander topped Tavares in 2021-22 and hit career highs in goals (34) and points (80).

Forwards No Longer Playing in Toronto

The Maple Leafs have let a few good players go either in free agency or via trade. Let’s start with 2022 Stanley Cup winner Nazem Kadri. In his third season with the Colorado Avalanche after being traded, he played an integral role in the final year of his deal recording 87 points in 71 games. But another player who recently left the organization is Zach Hyman who enjoyed a lot of success with the Edmonton Oilers helping them get to the Western Conference Final in 2022 and Stanley Cup Final in 2024. He was another player who had a career year and an excellent playoff. This hard-working winger will give his team everything he has and is effective in any situation.

There are some former players who had success for the Maple Leafs, but they couldn’t afford to keep. The first is Ilya Mikheyev, who left for the Vancouver Canucks during the 2022 offseason, and when healthy, really showed what type of player he could be. He may now be overpaid because many are in free agency, but he is very fast and scored 13 goals and 28 points in just 46 games in 2022-23. Carter Verhaeghe was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the third round in 2013, was traded to the New York Islanders in 2015 before ever playing a game, and didn’t appear in the NHL until the 2019-20 season with Tampa Bay. It may have taken him a while to break out, but now he is very effective for the Florida Panthers. Connor Brown is the other depth player who has improved his game since leaving the Maple Leafs and going to Ottawa. He has been a very effective penalty killer and gets lots of time on the power play with his sneaky scoring ability.

The final member of the Maple Leafs’ dream team is Phil Kessel. He may not be the player he once was, but it is impressive to put up 52 points in 2021-22 on the Arizona Coyotes with very little help around him in a season where the team had the fewest goals for in the NHL.

What the Maple Leafs’ Forward Group Would Look Like

Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner

Michael Bunting – Nazem Kadri – William Nylander

Alexander Kerfoot – John Tavares – Carter Verhaeghe

Ilya Mikheyev – Pierre Engvall – Connor Brown

Phil Kessel

The first line is a look back at two seasons ago when Hyman was a part of the Maple Leafs. Since then, all three had career years and would form a deadly trio against anyone else. Bunting would be shifted down a line considering Hyman is a more impactful player. Between Kadri’s two-way ability, Nylander’s skill, and Bunting’s overall play, they have all the bases covered.

Nazem Kadri Calgary Flames
Nazem Kadri, Calgary Flames (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Maple Leafs’ dream team would have a dangerous third line consisting of three players that would be in the top-six on any real NHL team. Tavares and Kerfoot have chemistry from playing together. Add in Verhaeghe and his underrated ability, he may get even better next season after his confidence is through the roof from his playoff performance. The fourth line is fast and would outwork any other line as well. Something to keep in mind is that these players are also efficient defensively and can put up 30-plus points with no problem. Kessel is hanging around this team for the veteran presence and because he can still put up points.

Defencemen Currently Playing for the Maple Leafs

Some of the best the Maple Leafs have to offer are currently playing for them. Morgan Rielly and T.J. Brodie form their top pairing, and Rielly is their number one defenceman, whether it’s their actual team or dream team. An argument can be made that Brodie shouldn’t be a top-pairing defenceman, but the team is young and inexperienced on the right side. Mark Giordano has the experience and production that others don’t have yet.

Defencemen No Longer Playing in Toronto

As for the defencemen no longer with the Maple Leafs, they could really use at least one of them on the right side next season. Tyson Barrie led all defencemen in points in the shortened season right after leaving the Maple Leafs and put up 55 points between the Oilers and Nashville Predators in 2022-23.

Related: Calgary Flames’ Dream Team of Current & Former Active Players

Cody Ceci had an impressive and very underrated season with the Oilers after an underwhelming season with the Maple Leafs in 2019-20. He started with the Oilers on the second pairing but ended on the top pairing playing well defensively and putting up some points.

Sean Durzi is a name you may have forgotten was a Maple Leaf, as he was dealt in 2019 when he was just a prospect and made a name for himself as a rookie in 2022-23 for the Los Angeles Kings. He was given a great opportunity when Drew Doughty and Sean Walker got injured, and he didn’t disappoint, as he gave the Kings a right-shot defender to help them make the playoffs and take the Oilers to a Game 7.

What the Maple Leafs’ Defence Corps Would Look Like

Morgan Rielly – T.J. Brodie

Jake Muzzin – Cody Ceci

Mark Giordano – Tyson Barrie

Sean Durzi

The top pairing for this Maple Leafs’ dream team was the team’s actual top pairing for the 2022-23 season, as they have a number one defenceman in Rielly and Brodie to complement him. The left side is stronger and deeper than the right side. The Maple Leafs let two defencemen go a couple of seasons ago who are currently playing on the Oilers, Ceci and Barrie. Both have done much better as part of the Oilers and are top-four defencemen. The right side is tough, but considering Durzi was just a rookie in 2022-23, he gets the final spot to at least make the team.

Maple Leafs’ Goaltending

The Maple Leafs have a very strong tandem of starting goaltenders that they have let walk in the past two seasons. It would be one of the best as both had great seasons in 2021-22 and project to have even better campaigns in 2022-23.

Of Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell, the starter would be Andersen as of now. He recently won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the second time in his career and in his first season with the Carolina Hurricanes. He also finished fourth in Vezina Trophy voting 2021-22 for the second time in his career. He has had a very impressive 10-year career that saw him post his best save percentage (.922) in 2021-22 since his rookie season when he started just 24 games. He also recorded the lowest goals-against average of his career (2.17), as well as, by far the highest goals saved above average (22.1).

Frederik Andersen Carolina Hurricanes
Frederik Andersen of the Carolina Hurricanes makes a save during the fourth overtime against the Florida Panthers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Josh Lavallee/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jack Campbell had himself an All-Star start to 2021-22 and his first season as an actual starting goaltender. He won 31 games in just 47 starts, recorded five shutouts, and finished with a goals saved above average of 10. Pre-All-Star break, he went 21-6-3 with a .925 save percentage and four shutouts. After that was much worse, but he did manage to bounce back in time for the playoffs where he was solid. If he had kept up the pace he was on for the entire season, I may have had to swap him with Andersen. He is yet another player in Edmonton who used to play for the Maple Leafs.

This Maple Leafs’ dream team is definitely an improvement over their current team, as was expected. Their forward depth is amazing, and their high-end talent is strong up front and in net. The defence isn’t much of an improvement over their current team but can put up points and defend. I hope you enjoyed this fantasy team article, as there are more to come for the rest of the NHL in the coming days and weeks.

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