Maple Leafs vs. Oilers Stanley Cup Final Could Actually Happen

It is official, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Edmonton Oilers have both made it past the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs. They both won their series in six games. The Maple Leafs have exorcised their first round demons while the Oilers defeated their 2022 first round foes once again.

Toronto Maple Leafs Celebrate
Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate winning Game 6 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

No doubt Maple Leafs fans are already planning the parade, and they should be excited about their team. When that kind of milestone is reached you should celebrate. But what does the road to these two teams meeting in the 2023 Playoffs look like? What kind of matchup do we see in an all-Canadian Stanley Cup Final? Let’s take a look.

Maple Leafs’ Path to the Stanley Cup

With the first round in the rearview mirror, the real test begins for the Maple Leafs. They need to win two more series to make it to the Final. With the Tampa Bay Lightning reeling, who is next?

Maple Leafs fans can look forward to a Round 2 matchup versus the Florida Panthers. They are a high-scoring team that can match up with the Leafs pound for pound offensively. But there is one key to winning that should be prioritized above all else.

Panthers: Neutralize Matthew Tkachuk

The Panthers’ leading scorer, Matthew Tkachuk, is producing at a Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl level in the playoffs this year. With 10 points in six games, he has already matched his playoff point totals from last year. He was their best player this past season. The key to a Maple Leafs’ series victory is neutralizing Tkachuk’s impact on the game.

Matthew Tkachuk Florida Panthers
Matthew Tkachuk, Florida Panthers (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

Ryan O’Reilly is the Maple Leafs’ top defensive center. Head coach Sheldon Keefe needs to send him over the boards every time Tkachuk steps on the ice. If he plays Tkachuk similarly to how Philip Danault played McDavid in that series, the Maple Leafs will be looking good to move on.

Conference Final vs Hurricanes, Devils or Rangers

The Carolina Hurricanes battled hard to defeat their Round 1 opponents, the New York Islanders. Missing both Andrei Svechnikov and Max Pacioretty is forcing the team to band together and play the ultimate team game. The Maple Leafs have the firepower that the Islanders lacked and should be able to match the Hurricanes. The Hurricanes will need to play their staunch defensive style to the letter if they have any hope of beating the Leafs.

Related: 3 Reasons a Hurricanes vs. Oilers Cup Final is Best For Hockey

The New York Rangers have a few offensive dynamos, but beyond that, their depth hasn’t been incredibly noticeable. Chris Kreider, Adam Fox and Patrick Kane lead the Rangers offensively. If the Leafs play hard against Kane and Kreider, they can probably out-match them in a best-of-seven series.

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The Maple Leafs would have an easier time against the New Jersey Devils. The team doesn’t have a lot of scoring depth, while the biggest positive has been their rookie goaltender Akira Schmid. With three wins and a .937 save percentage, the Leafs need to pummel the rookie netminder and hope they get the majority of the offense.

Oilers’ Path to The Cup

The Oilers got a timely series-winning goal from Kailer Yamamoto. The young forward hadn’t been that productive yet during these playoffs. But all it takes is one good game for someone to come out as the hero.

Kailer Yamamoto Edmonton Oilers Bench
Kailer Yamamoto of the Edmonton Oilers celebrates scoring a goal with his teammates on the bench in Game 6 of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Nicole Vasquez/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Kings presented a tough matchup with their suffocating defensive play and fast-flying attack. The next two rounds will not be easy for this Oilers squad.

Golden Knights: Outscore Their Big Guns

Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson are the leading scorers for the Vegas Golden Knights in the playoffs. The timely return of Stone has been a welcome sight for the team.

Mark Stone Vegas Golden Knights
Mark Stone Vegas, Golden Knights (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

With McDavid, Draisaitl, and Evan Bouchard, the Oilers have more than enough offense to go toe-to-toe with any team in the Western Conference. The depth players have also been warming up lately with Klim Kostin and Yamamoto contributing to the Round 1 series-deciding game.

Conference Final: Stars or Kraken?

Dating back to the early 90s the Dallas Stars have been a familiar playoff rival for the Oilers. They are another team with the horses to go the distance against the Copper and Blue. If their depth can keep them afloat and draw even as far as scoring chances go, the Oilers’ top performers can get the job done and out chance the Stars’ superstars.

Ryan Hartman Minnesota Wild
Ryan Hartman of the Minnesota Wild scores a goal past Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars in the second overtime period in Game One of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs (Photo by Sam Hodde/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Seattle Kraken find themselves in the postseason for the very first time in their second year of existence. Depth has been the buzzword around the Kraken all year long. Their forward group has a lot of solid options who can chip in offensively. They have also been the second least penalized team with 3.5 penalties averaged per game. To send them packing, the Oilers need to win the 5-on-5 battle.

Oilers vs. Maple Leafs, Who’s Better?

We have never had an Oilers versus Maple Leafs Stanley Cup Final. That being said, let’s pit the top players of both teams against each other and see where each club has the edge.

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Top Scoring Forwards

  • Oilers:
    • Leon Draisaitl, 11 points
    • Connor McDavid, 10 Points
    • Klim Kostin, four points
  • Leafs
    • Mitchell Marner, 11 points
    • Auston Matthews, nine points
    • John Tavares, seven points

That’s 25 points for the top Oilers forwards and 27 for the Leafs. I don’t think that two points are enough to give either team the edge. However, McDavid and Draisaitl have a history of playoff production that Matthews and Marner do not.

Advantage: Even

Top Scoring Defence

  • Oilers:
    • Evan Bouchard, 10 points
    • Mattias Ekholm, four points
    • Darnell Nurse, three points
  • Leafs
    • Morgan Rielly, eight points
    • TJ Brodie, two points
    • Mark Giordano, two points
Mattias Ekholm Evan Bouchard Edmonton Oilers
Mattias Ekholm and Evan Bouchard, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Seventeen points to 12 feels like a decisive win for the Oilers. The fact that two of those Oilers defenders are great defensively as well gives them the upper hand.

Advantage: Oilers


  • Oilers:
    • Stuart Skinner, 3.43 goals-against average (GAA), .890 SV%, 154 Saves, 19 goals against
  • Leafs
    • Ilya Samsonov, 3.14 GAA, .900 SV%, 171 Saves, 19 goals against

This matchup is pretty close, but I’ll give the slight edge to Samsonov. Skinner was pulled in a game, and that’s enough to give Samsonov the win.

Advantage: Leafs

Scoring Chances

  • Oilers
    • Scoring For Chance %, 52.46%
    • High Danger Chance For %, 53.48%
    • Team Shooting Percentage, 11.79%
    • Team Save Percentage, 90.05%
  • Maple Leafs
    • Scoring For Chance %, 42.3%
    • High Danger Chance For %, 48.68%
    • Team Shooting Percentage, 10.07%
    • Team Save Percentage, 90.13%

The Oilers are better in three of these four categories. For team save percentage it’s less than 0.25% difference, so we’ll call that category a tie.

Advantage: Oilers

That’s 2-1-1 in favour of the Oilers for these categories. Given the firepower of their top players as well as McDavid and Draisaitl’s ability to score at an insane rate in the playoffs, they have a clear advantage.

Leon Draisaitl Edmonton Oilers
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

When it comes down to these two teams head-to-head in a series, I think the winner is clear. The Maple Leafs would need to isolate both McDavid and Draisaitl to have any chance of success against the Oilers. On the flip side, the Oilers only need to score more than they allow. If I were a betting man, I’d pick the Oilers to win against the Maple Leafs all day long.