In two years, the Leafs will be or should be in the conversation for playoff contention at the very least and/or possibly Stanley Cup contenders if a couple more moves go the Leafs way.
What needs to go right in the next two years are the following to really be considered contenders in the 2019-2020 season:
A) Leafs would have acquired another top 4 or even better top two defenseman to solidify the defense. If not, than the pressure to develop a player like Dermott to fill a top 4 role is crucial. Dermott has the potential to break out in the next years and with Mike Babcock as coach we have to assume that if there is true potential that Dermott will reach his full potential and be another important piece on defense.
B) The Leafs prospects need to continue to develop and be even more impactful than they already are. Matthews, Marner, Nylander and Brown need to be the engine that fuels this team if this year is any indication than this point shouldn’t be an issue.
Where things get tricky as pointed out by a veteran Toronto sports writer is that the Leafs will face huge cap troubles if both of the above points come to pass before the 2019-2020 season.
The Leafs will require big cap dollars to attract that top 4 defenseman if the Leafs don’t have one in their system. If the young guys continue at this pace than they too will need to be paid as all will be coming off entry level deals. Here is where I differ from unmentioned sports writer, he mentions salaries to Tyler Bozak, James Van Riemsdyk, Jake Gardiner as cap issues that could effect how many of the young guns the Leafs can keep. But does anyone really think that the Leafs would risk losing any one or two of Matthews, Marner, Nylander or Brown just so the team can keep the vets mentioned above?
I would trust that with Brandon Pridham, Kyle Dubas, Lou Lameriello and company have already begun to plan for this eventuality with rumours of the Leafs already accepting calls on JVR just to name one player who is probably on the way out to allow the new talented core of young players to take this team to the next level.
The Leafs based on current cap projections for the 2019-2020 season look great, by than the contracts to Bozak, JVR, Lupul, Robidas will be off the books that money will clearly go to Matthews and Marner at the very least because they are the new long term core of this team.
So, don’t worry Leafs Nation, we won’t be or shouldn’t be concerned about losing a player from such a talented young core as this current management team has the team pointed in the right direction the future and the core of this team hasn’t ever looked this exciting and bright. Who knows, we could be talking about Stanley Cup contenders in two years. I have my seat on the parade route, do you? #GoLeafsGo