No doubt about it, the addition of superstar free agent John Tavares was a watershed moment for the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise. Years from now Leafs fans will still be discussing where they were and how they reacted when news broke that Tavares was opting to leave the New York Islanders in favour of his hometown Leafs. Put simply, Tavares is the biggest free agent signing in NHL history and he automatically transforms the team from a Stanley Cup pretender into a Stanley Cup contender.
It should come as no surprise then that the Leafs have soared up the offseason power rankings and, in some cases, are now mentioned alongside the NHL’s most elite teams like the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning and Nashville Predators. In fact, The Athletic released their early offseason power rankings just yesterday and it showed that the Leafs jumped six spots fro the 8th position all the way up to the 2nd position. Sitting atop the standings are the Atlantic Divison rival Lightning.
Check out this description courtesy of The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler and Justin Bourne:
*2. Toronto Maple Leafs*/Previous ranking: No. 8/
/First-place votes: 27 percent/
The last time we did this exercise, I ranked the Leafs a tier below the likes of the Lightning and the Jets. The addition of John Tavares changes that, and should firmly slot them among the league’s top three or four teams. /— Scott Wheeler/
The Leafs purged their potential UFA forwards knowing what they’d cost (four years at $3 million for Leo Komorov, five years at $7 million for James van Riemsdyk, three years by $5 million for Tyler Bozak), largely because they’re aware of their inevitable salary cap dance in the years to come. They’re now among the contenders, and all you have to do is look at last year’s Capitals to know what that means. Get yourself in the mix, and you never know what can happen. This isn’t breaking news, but with the addition of Tavares, they’re going to be in the mix for a while. /— Justin Bourne/
Tough to argue with that!
So, how does the rest of the field rank? Well, we already mentioned that the Lightning sit atop the league in first spot, but the rest of the top 10 is a bit of a jumbled mess with the Predators coming in 3rd, Winnipeg Jets 4th, Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals 5th, Boston Bruins 6th, Pittsburgh Penguins 7th, Vegas Golden Knights 8th, San Jose Sharks 9th and Los Angeles Kings 10th.
Here’s the full list of rankings:
Source: The Athletic
Photo Credit: Zuma Press