The NHL regular season normally runs from October to April. If you’re lucky, your team will play deep into April and the month of May if the Stanley Cup is somewhere in their fortunes. That being said, the 82-game season can often pass by like a blur – records are broken, personal marks are reached and they sometimes get lost in a full regular season.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs’ season having just ended at the hands of the Washington Capitals – who beat them in six games in the first round of the playoffs – here’s a look at how their season broke down in numerical values.
Zero: What Was Expected
Heading into the 2016-17 season, nobody outside the Leafs’ dressing room had any expectations of where this team was going to go. Some discussed the potential of finishing just outside the playoff picture, but there were zero expectations of a playoff run for this young squad.
One: Top Pick
The first positive in this season came when the Leafs were awarded the first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft. It was just the second time in franchise history that they were awarded the top pick with the first coming back in 1985 when the team took Wendel Clark. This time around, they nabbed a generational talent in Auston Matthews.
Three: Joining the Nordiques
With Matthews (69), Marner (61) and Nylander (61) all hitting the 60-point mark this season, the Leafs became just the second team in NHL history to have three rookies with at least 60 points – joining the 1981 Quebec Nordiques.
Four: Hyman, Matthews and the Power of Four
Speaking of Matthews, what a start he had to his NHL career. While the Leafs weren’t able to pull out a win in their first game of the season, their sensational rookie notched his first four career goals and his first four-goal game of his very young career. This was also the first time any player has started his career with a four-game game in NHL history.
Zach Hyman also set a rookie record for the Leafs. As one of the better penalty killers on the club this season, the gritty forward scored four shorthanded goals in 2016-17 setting a franchise record for a rookie.
Five: The Dirty 30
The Leafs had five rookies hit the 30-point plateau in 2016-17. With Matthews (69), Marner (61), Nylander (61), Connor Brown (36) and Nikita Zaitsev (36) all hitting the mark, the Leafs became just the second team in NHL history to have five rookies reach that total. The only other team to do so was the 1980 Edmonton Oilers.
Six: Back in the Postseason
Not only are the Leafs from the city that so many call “the 6ix,” but after making the postseason for the first time since 2012-13 (the shortened season) they Leafs took the Presidents’ Trophy winners – the Washington Capitals – to six games. All of them were one goal games and five were decided in overtime.
10: Ten in a Row
Quietly behind the seasons of Marner and Matthews, William Nylander was also a star player for the young Leafs squad. In fact, late in the season (March to be exact), Nylander set a franchise record for a rookie with a 10-game point streak.
14: Welcome Back Dave
It took this franchise a long time, but the Leafs finally paid tribute to arguably the greatest Leaf to ever don their jersey when they brought back Dave Keon and raised his number 14 to the rafters of the Air Canada Centre.
17: Raised to the Rafters
Including Keon’s number 14, the Leafs organization stopped simply honouring the numbers of previous players and decided to retire 17 others for their centennial season. While it was actually only 11 numbers, they represented 17 former players. The numbers now retired by the club include Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, Hap Day, Red Kelly, Bill Barilko, Ace Bailey, King Clancy, Tim Horton, Ted Kennedy, Charlie Conacher, Syl Apps, George Armstrong, Mats Sundin, Keon, Wendel Clark, Borje Salming, Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler and Doug Gilmour.
25: The New JVR
Up until this season, van Riemsdyk wore the number 21. However, as part of their centennial ceremonies, the Leafs retired the number 21 to honour Salming. Because of that JVR was asked to change his number and he jumped four to the number 25.
26: One Year Later
In 2014-15 the Maple Leafs finished the season with 68 points. A year later, they finished the season dead last with 69 points. One first overall pick and some offensively talented rookies and the Leafs jumped 26 points in the span of a year to finish the 2016-17 season with a total of 95 points.
31: A Record for the Ages
For 31 years, Clark held the franchise record for most goals by a Leafs’ rookie at 34. When Matthews scored his 35th of the year, he broke the long-standing record – just one of many that Leafs’ rookies overcame this season.
32: Hitting Career Highs
For the first time in his career, Nazem Kadri hit the 30-goal plateau. His previous career high was 20 goals back in 2013-14 when he also reached his previous career high in points at 50. This season, though, he notched 32 goals and 61 points to set new marks. He played in all 82 games to top it all off.
40: From Sundin to Matthews
Not only did Matthews play all 82 games of the regular season, but the rookie center notched 40 goals in his first season in the NHL – four more than fellow freshman Patrik Laine. It’s also the first time a Leafs player hit the 40-goal mark in a season since Mats Sundin did it in 2001-02 when he scored 41.
42: Marner Dropping Apples
Have we talked about the rookie records yet? Well, with 42 assists in his first NHL season, Mitch Marner set a Leafs record for most by a first-year player. When he notched his 41st of the season on a James van Riemsdyk goal, the young forward broke Gus Bodnar’s Leafs record of 40 set back in 1943-44.
50: The Leafs’ Drought
This number doesn’t represent a highlight of this season, rather a testament to where the franchise once was. The 2016-17 season officially marked 50 years since the Leafs last raised the Stanley Cup.
55: A New Plateau
In a season full of career bests and rookie records, Tyler Bozak also set a new career-high in points. Twice in his career he reached 49 points (2013-14 and 2014-15). This season, the Leafs veteran scored 18 goals on his way to reaching 55 points – a new career high for the eight-year veteran.
66: A True Starter
In his first season with the Maple Leafs, starting goaltender Frederik Andersen started a career-high 66 games during the regular season. He won 33 of those games and helped the Leafs force their way into the playoffs.
69: The Biggest Rookie Record
More Matthews? You bet. The star forward finished the year with 69 total points which set another franchise record for most points by a Leafs’ rookie. It was previously held by Peter Ihnacak who notched 66 as a rookie in 1982-83.
100: A Centennial Moment
A hundred years is a long time. That’s how long the Leafs and the NHL have been around. The 2016-17 season marked the centennial season for the Toronto franchise and a historical mark for the club. As part of their celebration, they hosted the Centennial Classic at BMO Field in Toronto against the Detroit Red Wings. Over their existence, the Leafs hold a 2834-2736-783-143 record during the regular season and a 250-273 record in the playoffs. They’ve won 13 Stanley Cups with the last coming back in 1967.
304: The Young Guns on Top
Crushed. Obliterated. Demolished. These are just a few words that can be used to describe how the Leafs’ rookies combined to break the franchise and tie the NHL record for combined points by a team’s rookies in a single season. The Leafs’ freshmen recorded a total of 304 points this season to break the previous record of 207, while they tie the 1992-93 Winnipeg Jets (who had Teemu Selanne) for the NHL record in this category.
3,799: Calling the Crease Home
Andersen played nearly 3,800 minutes in his debut season with the Leafs. By far the most of his career in a single season, he finished third in the NHL in minutes played by a goaltender behind only Martin Jones and Cam Talbot.
19,744: If You Build it They Will Come
In 41 home games this season the Leafs had a total of 809,519 fans in attendance. That’s a average of 19,744 per game which ranked them fifth among NHL clubs this season. The only clubs that saw a higher per-game average are Pittsburgh (19,762), Detroit (20,027), Montreal (21,288) and Chicago (21,751).
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.