Okay, Leafs fans. After a summer off where I didn’t listen to any podcasts or drown myself in news, I’m ready for hockey again. As I do most years, I’m ready to post my predictions for how the Leafs season will unfold. This will be the first time these make it to Cortex.
Matthews wins the Rocket Richard Trophy
Auston Matthews is the best goal scorer in the NHL right now. Ovechkin no longer holds that crown and won’t win another trophy if Matthews can play 70 games per season. Given Matthews will miss the first few games this year, I’m going to put his total for 2021-22 at 55 goals. If Matthews were able to put in a full 82 games, I’d put him at 60 goals without hesitation. He’s a threat from anywhere in the offensive zone.
Nick Ritchie fails to hit 20 goals
I was very excited for Nick Ritchie arriving in Toronto, and I’m really hoping I’m wrong about this prediction. However, so far (and I agree it’s a tiny sample size), Ritchie has been invisible on the ice. Now, maybe this changes when Matthews gets on a line with Ritchie and Marner, but something feels off about this. I’m more confident that Bunting will end up playing with Matthews and Marner at this point.
Jack Campbell gets at least one Vezina vote
Jack Campbell is looking like the real deal, and the Leafs have a decent defense again this year. Add in the fact we have defensive specialist David Kampf on the third line, and I think Campbell puts up very impressive numbers. I wouldn’t be shocked to see him pass 30 wins with a killer GAA and SV%. It also doesn’t hurt that Mrazek appears to be hurt, so the crease belongs to Campbell for at least a little while.
Jason Spezza scores 20 goals
This is Jason Spezza’s third season with Toronto. We keep expecting there will be a drop-off in his output. However, the guy just keeps on being a useful player and an absolute steal at $750K per season. He ripped one on the PP last night, and he’ll keep the good times rolling with 20 goals this season. Expect 40 points from “Vintage” over the course of 82 games, but I’m only going in on the 20 goals as my prediction.
Marner hits 100 points on the season
The fun part now is seeing if I get any of these right. I think each are very achievable, but also things happen and any or all of them could be missed. I’ll give them all up to see the Leafs make it to the second round, though.