QUESTION : How Well Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Match Up Against Other Atlantic Teams?

With Free Agent Frenzy over, we can better estimate what the Toronto Maple Leafs will look like next season. Do the Leafs have what it takes to win the division? Over the last two weeks, the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs have undergone significant changes.

The Edmonton Oilers nearly completed the greatest comeback in hockey history (although the Toronto Maple Leafs still have the best record), Macklin Celebrini was picked first overall, and numerous superstars signed contracts with new organizations.

Top 2024 NHL Draft prospect Macklin Celebrini has had one of the best  college freshman seasons ever - Daily Faceoff

The Leafs’ most noteworthy development (apart from the draft and free agency) was seeing an Atlantic Division team reach the Stanley Cup Final for the sixth consecutive year. Even more so, this year’s Eastern Conference participant, the Florida Panthers, went on to win their first title in franchise history.

The Atlantic Division has long been regarded as the most competitive in the NHL. But, with a revamped roster, how well do the Leafs match up with their opponents this season?

How Do the Toronto Maple Leafs Stack Up Against Other Atlantic Teams?
Group 1: The Division Basement.
The Atlantic Division has become so competitive that just one of the eight teams can be expected to miss the playoffs. That’s the Montreal Canadiens.

To their credit, the Habs have a promising future ahead of them, but they will most likely not compete for a playoff place until at least 2026. The Leafs should easily finish ahead of the Canadiens next season.

Group Two: The Playoff Bubble
Next, we have an intriguing collection of teams that take the first, second, and third slots on the NHL’s longest active playoff drought standings. Those would be the Buffalo Sabres, Detroit Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators (in that order).

All three of these teams have been in long, difficult rebuilds, but all have exciting young rosters, and some have even gone close to making the playoffs in recent seasons.

The Sabres were one win away from defeating the Florida Panthers (that year’s finalist) in the 2023 playoffs, and in 2024, if the Red Wings had won one more point during the season, they would have qualified for the playoffs.

While all three of these clubs have a chance to make the playoffs, the Leafs are expected to finish ahead of everyone else.

Group Three: The Playoff Locks
The Boston Bruins, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Florida Panthers are the next three perennial playoff clubs. All of these teams have reached the finals in the last six years, and since 2020, all three have appeared in every postseason.

The Tampa Bay Lightning are clearly on the decline, having not only been knocked from the playoffs in the first round in consecutive years, but also fielding one of their poorest lineups in recent memory.

Despite the addition of Jake Guentzel, the Lightning’s bottom-nine forward group remains relatively weak, and they have lost their captain. While the Lightning are still expected to make the playoffs, it’s safe toJake Guentzel échangé au Canadien? say the Leafs will finish ahead of them.

That leaves the Bruins and Panthers, who finished ahead of the Leafs in the 2023-24 regular season. The Bruins improved their squad during free agency, but so did the Leafs, and while Florida lost a few key players in the offseason, they remain the defending Stanley Cup champions and have won the Atlantic Division twice in the last three years.

If I had to estimate, I would say the Leafs will finish second in the division, ahead of the Bruins

and behind Florida.

However, the top three of the Atlantic are extremely tight and can go any way.

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