Detroit Red Wings: Predicting how the Atlantic Division will Shape Up

DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - APRIL 07: Detroit Red Wings forward Dylan Larkin (71) is congratulated by his teammates on the bench after scoring a goal during the third period of a regular season NHL hockey game between the New York Islanders and the Detroit Red Wings on April 7, 2018, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. New York defeated Detroit 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
(Photo by Vincent Ethier/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs: 2nd

The Mike Babcock guided Toronto Maple Leafs are Stanley Cup contenders until further notice.  The Leafs landed John Tavares this offseason adding to an already offensive juggernaut.

The Key PLayers/Stars:

Tavares is the closest to a complete center that there can be.  Detroit Red Wings fans won’t want to hear this, but he’s basically Henrik Zetterberg in his prime.  Mike Babcock has his guy.  Tavares will be leaned upon early and often by his head coach.  Babcock will roll Tavares out in all of the critical times throughout the hockey game.

It doesn’t hurt to have all the young scoring forwards Brenden Shanahan, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have assembled.  William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews make up a young trio of scorers.

When you throw those guys in a snow globe and shake it up with players like Patrick Marleau, Zach Hyman, Connor Brown and Nazim Kadri you have a team that can score with all three lines.  The Leafs are deep up front, real deep.  The Leafs have young forwards like Josh Leivo, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen playing as bottom six forwards.  Believe it, or not all three have 20 goals, 50 point potential.

The Ugly:

The Leafs have a substantial number one defender in Morgan Reilly, but he can’t do it all himself.  The Leafs need help on the back-end.  Ron Hainsey is ok; Jake Gardiner is much better than he played late in last years playoffs.  He owned his mistakes, and the Leafs expect him to bounce back.

Travis Dermott is expected to flourish this season and rise through the Leafs depth chart.  As a group, this is the weakness of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the defensive core.  They will look to add a defender at some point this season.

The goaltender Frederik Anderson is a guy Mike Babcock uses as his workhorse.  Anderson will play nearly 70 games for the Leafs.  At times he is left on an island with Toronto’s struggles on the back-end.  He can win a game on his own.

Mike Babcock only turned to Curtis McElhinney on the second day of back to back games.  Expect the Toronto Maple Leafs to be in the market for a defenseman at some point this season.

For the record, Mike Babcock has adapted some as a coach.  He used to be so defensively driven; now he allows all these young stars in Toronto play more of a wide-open style of hockey.  Jeff Blashill needs to take notice and let the young Detroit Red Wings to play more of that wide-open looking hockey.  Babcock knows his team needs to score a lot to win, they don’t have the roster to lock opponents down, and either does Detroit.