Since the Auston Matthews era began in Toronto, we have expected the Maple Leafs to operate near the top of the league in their power play almost every season.
They are a team filled with very talented players. Players who can pass players, who can score, and have had at least a solid top unit. Save for 20-21, they’ve fulfilled our expectations every year in the regular season. The playoffs have been a different beast.
These are the Leafs’ PP rankings since Matthews’ arrival.
Reg Season / Playoffs
As of late, that solid top unit has earned it by being so successful, but certainly seems stale at times in the regular season and sure hasn’t been up to par in the postseason at times. It feels kike a problem some years in the playoffs.
However, I believe the squad assembled for this season will have two units that will be undeniably better than anything The Leafs have had since 34’s time in Toronto began.
This could be the best PP% over a season since the stat was tracked.
Let me cook here.
The Leafs have normally operated in a form such as this :
Nylander -Tavares- Marner
Now, while there have been substitutions for Morgan Rielly and even William Nylander, for the most part, this is the unit Toronto has rolled with for the last several seasons.
Picture this: two separate powerplay units of
You can shake these groups up in whichever order you’d like, and It looks to me like the Leafs have two legit PP units. There is an immaculate balance of passers, shooters, puck movers, and guys who break out well, and all of them, save for the defensemen, are a legitimate threat in front of the net. (I mean, you could count Morgan Rielly’s screen for the series clinching overtime John Tavares’s goal is quite threatening.)
But we have new guys, guys who fill nets with pucks. Sure, defense is great, but who doesn’t love an 8-6 game, right? These new additions may have their flaws, but they are sure to help with the man advantage.
Let’s break it down by players who haven’t been here before and what they bring to this Leafs powerplay.
Matthew Knies’s game is strong along the boards and working the corners to win puck battles. He is a strong skater, has soft hands, and displays excellent creativity when he has the puck.
In his first year with the Golden Gophers, he had 33 pts in 33 games, and in his final year, he scored 42 points in 40 GP
He played top PP minutes alongside guys like Logan Cooley (ARI) and Jimmy Snuggerud(STL). Knies thrived on both ends of special teams, tallying six powerplay goals and the team’s only two shorthanded goals (one of only four NCAA players with at least six PPG and two SHG
He is sure to be a strong net-front or behind-the-net guy on PP2
Klingberg made his name in Dallas with the Stars, scoring 40 points as a rookie and 58 in his sophomore season. Let’s face it. JK isn’t known for being a defensive sound player. What he IS known for, however, is the ability to create offense. When he is slotted in on this power play, he is going to be playing with some of the most skilled players in the league. He played in Dallas, and while they have players who have matured into scoring machines over the last few seasons, Dallas was always known as a low-scoring team. He then went to Anaheim, which does have some young stars, but they weren’t even really trying to compete. Seeing him With Matthews, Marner, Nylander etc., should drive up this player’s production.
We all know how Max’s dad was beloved in his time in Toronto. He is NOT the same player as his father though. He has that Domi gene, which invigorates his aggravating instincts, but he is not there to beat you up or crush you. He has put together quite the offensive resume since joining the NHL. He currently sits at 80 Pp points With 20G – 60A, but again, joining a unit that has had so much success, we should expect those numbers to rise.
He scored 20 goals and 56 points with a minus-15 rating through 80 games with the Blackhawks and Stars last season before adding 13 points in 19 postseason appearances. He is bound to fill the net with the extra man.
Bertuzzi split the year between Detroit and Boston last year after being traded near last season’s trade deadline. He spent time on Boston’s Top PP unit and was a staple in Detroit with a man advantage.
He has lightning-fast speed, allowing him to make Nylander-esque transitions. He has a top-tier shot, scoring 30 goals in 68 games in 21-22, and every time I’ve watched him play, he has made me say “damn” while watching his creativity in the offensive zone. He sees the ice with X-ray goggles and creates plays with a Marner-esque feel to them, as they are so spectacular and unexpected.
Playing with any of the core 4, he is almost sure to walk into the top PP unit and thrive alongside the skill and creativity already there. 25% of his 218 career points have come on the powerplay, and I can imagine we see that number rise this season as well.
No matter who slots in where and who plays with whom I can assure you the Toronto Maple Leafs will once again be at the top of the league in powerplay stats. They have too many great offensive players not to be.