The Leafs are scorching the NHL right now, and as a fan who has been cautious not to get too excited, I'm ready to be hurt again. I believe in this team, as foolish as that is to do. They play differently, at least for now. Will they keep it up in the playoffs? Probably not, but here are five thoughts about the Leafs because I'm all in on the hype train. Until I'm not.
Matthews could still win the Rocket
Matthews got off to a slow start by his standards. Recovery from wrist surgery took longer than he would have hoped, but he looks like the best goal scorer on the planet again. He's seven goals off the league leader after his hat trick on Wednesday, and I'm thinking he still scores 50+ this season if he stays healthy.
John Tavares still has it
I'm waiting for the wheels to fall off the John Tavares train. The guy is now 31 and making $11M against the cap. He's not going to be worth that every year of the deal I wouldn't suspect, but it looks like he'll provide value to the Leafs for the remainder of this season. Tavares is currently 10th in league scoring and leads the Leafs with more than a point-per-game pace.
Jack Campbell is legit
Man, the Leafs have a goalie who will get Vezina consideration if he keeps this up. Some reporters are actually saying he might be the leading Vezina candidate right now. All this, and his cap hit is tiny. However, Campbell will be a UFA at the end of the season, so he's due for a big raise if he continues to play this well. A huge raise.
I don't mind Nick Ritchie
Most Leafs fans want Ritchie gone, and I get that when we're only looking at five assists at the quarter-mark of the season. But I like the guy, and his teammates like him, so let's see how this plays out. He's a big body who can play mean, and that could come in very handy in the playoffs. Yeah, he's likely gone in the off season because he's not worth his cap hit at this production, but the team is rolling right now and I don't think there's any need to freak out about his performance.
Sandin can play
Man, Sandin is looking like a real winner for the Leafs. The guy is still quite young, but he figures to be a fixture on the Leafs blueline for the next decade, and he's got some bite. When Rielly is hurt, and it looks like he is right now, Sandin is the guy who takes over as PP1 QB. He's wicked talented and will almost certainly never play another game in the AHL again.
No predictions this time, just some thoughts on the Leafs after 20-some games. Maybe I'll pop back in at the 41-game mark and see how things are looking then.