Revisiting 8 Maple Leafs’ Predictions for the 2021-22 Season

One fun thing about making predictions is to go back and see how many you got right and how many you got wrong. Prior to the start of the 2021-22 regular season in June 2021, we put our heads together to make eight predictions for the 2021-22 season.  

Related: 4 Changes Maple Leafs’ Coach Sheldon Keefe Should Make This Season

Because we are now into 2022, we thought it would be a good time to see how those predictions are holding up. 

Prediction #1: We Predicted Alex Galchenyuk Would Re-Sign with the Maple Leafs and Have His Best Season in Years

Strike One. We definitely missed the boat on this prediction. From what we heard about Galchenyuk, the Maple Leafs talked with him about coming back but he wanted to try for bigger money than they offered. In the end, he signed for NHL league-minimum with the Arizona Coyotes. 

Arizona Coyotes Alex Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk, now back with the Arizona Coyotes (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ross D. Franklin)

Even with the Coyotes, who have the worst record in the NHL, Galchenyuk has been a healthy scratch for much of the season. He’s played in 15 games and has a total of three assists. Needless to say, it hasn’t been his best season.

Prediction #2: We Predicted Jack Campbell Would Become the Maple Leafs’ Number One Goalie

We got this one more than correct and are now batting .500. Injuries to Petr Mrazek disrupted the Maple Leafs’ plans to go with a two-goalie system – Campbell being 1A and Mrazek being 1B. Has the organization’s initial philosophy since changed?

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The fact is that Campbell is playing lights out and has a good chance to become a Vezina finalist. His great play makes our prediction good, at least at this point of the season anyway. 

Prediction #3: We Predicted the Maple Leafs Bottom-6 Would Look Different in 2021-22

We believe we got this prediction absolutely correct. Gone are Joe Thornton, Nick Foligno, Galchenyuk, and Riley Nash. In have come Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase, David Kampf, and Nick Ritchie. 

Related: The NHL’s Top 100 Prospects – Preseason Rankings

Although Bunting is currently playing with the top six, he’s been an addition that’s paid off well. However, the magic that general manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe made by pulling in Kampf and Kase into shutdown third line has been noteworthy. The team needed to find value; went to the NHL bargain store; and, signed solid players. The depth on this season’s team is better than it’s been in several seasons.

Prediction #4: We Predicted that Nick Robertson Would Score at Least 40 Points but Differently than Fans Think

Here we are back to .500 again. When we made this prediction, we believed that Nick Robertson, who had been known mostly as a goal-scorer, would show that he was also a playmaker. We believed he’d be a part of the Maple Leafs’ roster and would get a lot of playing time. Instead, the organization decided Robertson would gain more by spending a season with the Toronto Marlies. 

Nick Robertson Toronto Maple Leafs
Nick Robertson, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the Marlies, Robertson might have scored at least 40 points if he hadn’t been injured again. What’s saddest about this prediction is that Robertson’s gaining an injury history and often seems to be forgotten by Maple Leafs’ fans. The future seems iffy for the young prospect. He has the talent and certainly the drive, but can he play with his emotions under control and stay out of injury trouble?

Prediction #5: We Predicted that Both Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren Would Become Regulars in the Maple Leafs’ Lineup

Can we split this one? Sandin has become a regular when he’s been healthy, and he’s played 28 games. Liljegren has bounced in and out of the lineup. He’s been alternating with Travis Dermott for most of the season, and also played when Keefe sat Holl for six games. 

Related: 15 Craziest Things Ever Thrown on the Ice

Liljegren has played in 19 of 33 games; and, over the course of the season, he’s erased most doubts that he’s capable of playing at the NHL level. We believe he’s certain to become part of the Maple Leafs’ lineup of the future. Because we are keeping score ourselves and we consider ourselves to be two-thirds right on this prediction, we’re going to ring it up as a win. 

Prediction #6: We Predicted Mitch Marner Would Have a Career Season in 2021-22

In some ways, we just wrote about this prediction. As of this moment, we definitely got this prediction wrong. After struggling to start the season, then suffering a shoulder injury when running into Jake Muzzin during practice, then getting COVID-19, this has not been a great season for Marner.

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

As we noted in our last post, all this could change should Marner have a great playoff run and lead his team to postseason success.

Prediction #7: We Predicted Ilya Mikheyev Would Find His Hands and Become a Scorer

We were right on this one. Mikheyev is scoring goals at a better per-game pace than Auston Matthews. Who’s quibbling that he’s only played four games? Still, he has three goals in those games and is averaging a point a game.

Toronto Maple Leafs Ilya Mikheyev Alexander Kerfoot Morgan Rielly Rasmus Sandin
Toronto Maple Leafs Ilya Mikheyev, Alexander Kerfoot, Morgan Rielly, and Rasmus Sandin celebrate a goal.
(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Christopher Katsarov)

It’s been a tough two seasons for Mikheyev injury-wise. That said, his return to the Maple Leafs’ lineup this season has been great. It’s obvious he has the skills for success with this team. Now we hope the Maple Leafs re-sign him for next season. Right now, we are counting ourselves right on this prediction. Next week, who knows? 

Prediction #8: We Predicted that the Maple Leafs Would Get Past the First Round of the Playoffs

Obviously, we can’t claim a win on this one. We’ll just have to wait for the playoffs. 

Related: 5 Maple Leafs’ Defensemen Next in Line for NHL Playing Time

In reviewing our predictions, we have four right, three wrong, and one yet to be decided. We eked out a win, at least for now.  

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]