DISCLAIMER: I am NOT a Leafs fan by any stretch of the imagination. I do like their team though, and despite an annoying as hell fan base online they are quite loyal and are a grade A organization. Okay, yuck, moving on.
This team is trending in the right direction, and yes they have next to no defensive depth but barring injuries this team has what it takes to go all the way in the East this year. The Jets, Flames,Oilers, Habs, Canucks and Sens are not going to do it anytime soon. And the Leafs are Canada’s best bet at ending this drought, and I wager it’ll happen either this year or next.
Let’s take a look at the key pieces on their roster:
Matthews- elite #1C
Tavares- elite #1C
Marner- elite #1RW
Reilly- Bonafide #1D
Andersen- elite #1G
Nylander- bonafide top 6 player with PPG potential.
Key depth pieces:
Kapanen, Johnsson,Barrie, Muzzin, Kerfoot are all nice complimentary pieces. IMO they need a big deadline deal if possible to solidify a deep run as a legitimate threat. Something like Gaborik to the Kings in 2014, or in the Leafs case a gritty d-man to round out their top 6.
Barring injuries, the pieces are all there for a deep cup run within the next few years during their window. I think if they get past Boston the past couple years ( AKA Kadri doesn’t self destruct) they have at least a ECF appearance by now.
That team has a hell of a core, and again, if they all stay healthy they’re probably going to be the ones to end Canada’s drought.
EDIT: I almost forgot to mention Sheldon Keene as COACH. This guy has won literally everywhere he has coached, not a guaranteed success but he’s done really well there so far.