The Toronto Maple Leafs were the worst team in the NHL last season, but things are (finally) beginning to appear in the Big Smoke.
Toronto has been in a clear reconstruct since Brendan Shanahan took over the reins as team president in 2014, and Shanny has made some great strides in an effort to make the Leafs relevant again.
Launched in Mike Babcock as coach has already started to pay dividends, along with an influx of young talent highlighted by 2016 No. 1 overall pick Auston Matthews has enthusiasts in the GTA eager for the first time in quite some time.
For a franchise which spent the greater part of a decade treading water due to questionable leading office decisions, that means something. Here’s a look at the Maple Leafs’ chances in the upcoming season, courtesy of BetOnline.
Stanley Cup +5000
If you ever wish to get a dig in at your Leafs fan friend, just mention that the calendar year 1967. They’ll know what you’re referring to. By the time the 2016-17 NHL season wraps up, it will be 50 years since the Stanley Cup came to Toronto. The Leafs are improving, but don’t bank on that trend changing this year.
Eastern Conference +2500
Toronto sits connected with the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators for its 11th-worst Opportunities to represent the Eastern Conference in the Stanley Cup final, ahead of Buffalo (+2800), Carolina (+3300) and Columbus (+3300).
The Leafs have been at the bottom of the barrel in this regard over the prior few decades, so at least it shows oddsmakers have started to show them some respect.
Atlantic Division +1500
Tampa Bay (+130), Florida (+400), Boston (+650), Detroit (+650), Montreal (+700) and Buffalo (+1500) are deservedly ranked ahead of the Buds in divisional futures. Provincial rival Ottawa sits tied together with the Maple Leafs at +1500. That sounds pretty fair to me.
Point total OVER/UNDER 81.5
Considering that the NHL’s new point system was released in 2005, Toronto has eclipsed 81 points twice. However, the Leafs have gone above that amount just once in the past four campaigns. In 2014-15 they ended up using a pitiful 68 points, only to place up 69 last year.
To view 81.5 on the plank is a bit surprising, but it goes to show that this group is moving in the ideal direction. I’m not convinced enough to see that much progress just yet, nevertheless, so I’d take the UNDER in this situation.
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