I love to talk about the Toronto Maple Leafs. Give me a chance to make bold and stupid predictions and I'll gladly fall into that trap for you. I did just that earlier this season with five predictions, and now that we're basically at the halfway point of the season, I want to see how they are looking. I don't actually remember them all right now, so I'm a bit scared to see what I boldly predicted.
1: Matthews wins the Rocket Richard Trophy
This one is looking really good at the moment. Matthews has 24 goals on the season and sits two goals behind Ovechkin and two goals behind Draisaitl. Matthews has played five fewer games than Ovechkin and two fewever than Draisaitl. He's also just objectively the best goal scorer in the league right now. Ovechkin is likely the best of all time, but Matthews is the best in terms of current abilities. With the Leafs high-powered offence and Mitch Marner on his flank for most of his time on the ice, Matthews should clear 60 goals this season if he stays healthy.
Verdict: On track
2: Nick Ritchie fails to hit 20 goals
Nailed it. Ritchie currently has two goals and has been a healthy scratch for the Leafs. He's playing on the fourth line right now. I still love the player and think he's a big asset in the playoffs (if he can get very mean and start wrecking fools), but he would have to turn it way, way up to even sniff 20 goals. I'm thinking he finishes with eight goals on the season and doesn't suit up next year for the Leafs.
Verdict: Slam dunk
3. Jack Campbell gets at least one Vezina vote
Here's another one where I'm looking great. Campbell is currently a favorite for the Vezina trophy. He's going to the all-star game, and his numbers are off the charts. Unless he takes a big dive in the second half of the season, he's likely going to be a big part of the Vezina conversation. I don't know why he just opted to become a world-class goalie now, but I'm happy just the same. Should be fun to try and re-sign him in the offseason.
Verdict: Take it to the bank
4: Jason Spezza scores 20 goals
Spezza currently has seven goals in 31 games, which is pretty close to a pace that would put him at 20. The issue is that he took a suspension just as he was getting going, and he followed that up with a bout of COVID. It feels like Spezza has lost some of his momentum (this is a team-wide thing right now), and I'm thinking he falls short of 20 goals. I think a more reasonable number at this point would be 15, but we're all cheering for Spezza.
Verdict: Cutting it close
5: Marner hits 100 points on the season
Yikes. Marner missed a bunch of time with a shoulder injury, then a bit more with COVID. He's currently seventh on the team in points, and still not in the lineup. He would have to come back and heat up immediately. The Leafs have 47 games remaining and Marner would need 79 points in those games. It's not impossible, but if you figure it will take him a few games to get his legs back, I'd say he's likely in the 70-80 point range this year. Of course, he is going to be passing the puck to Auston Matthews, so the opportunity is there if Marner can grab it.
Verdict: Nothing to see here
Overall, I'd say I'm good on three of five predictions, which isn't great, but I'm also not playing it safe. I'd say 60 percent success potential on things that are bold isn't bad. Matthews for the Rocket? Campbell with a Vezina vote? Those aren't "My team will win 10 games this year" safe bets. I'll be looking back at the end of the season, and I'm probably going to throw down some additional predictions in a week or two.