A quick look at Stanley Cup futures at Ontario sportsbooks has the Toronto Maple Leafs near the top of the pack: BetMGM has the Leafs at 11.00 to win the Stanley Cup, behind the Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche, both at 10.00. The Edmonton Oilers and New Jersey Devils also are at 11.00. The defending champion Las Vegas Golden Knights are at 13.00.
The Leafs are 7.00 to win the East, with Carolina at 6.00. With a lot of questions about the Boston Bruins this season (15.00 to win the Cup), plus those negative stories about the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos contract status (Tampa Bay is 15.00) and how that might impact their lineup, there perhaps has never been a better opportunity for this current crop of Leafs. Toronto seeks to finally break through and bring the city a Cup for the first time in 57 years.
For comparison, theScore Bet Ontario Sportsbook had the Hurricanes 9.00 as of Tuesday morning, with the Avalanche, Oilers, Devils and Leafs Cup futures at 10.00. At PointsBet Canada, it’s the Avalanche at 9.00, followed by the Leafs at 10.00, then the Oilers and Golden Knights at 11.00.
Maple Leafs training camp is happening at the Mastercard Centre in Etobicoke. Here are five storylines to watch for Toronto, any of which could affect and perhaps boost the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup odds entering the 2023-24 season with Ontario sports betting apps.
William Nylander Stays At Centre
William Nylander is one of the best skaters in the league, and playing centre will open more ice for him, with more puck touches. Nylander could anchor the third line (Monday night against Ottawa, in Toronto’s preseason opener, he had Max Domi on his wing and logged 23:06 of ice time); that assumes Auston Matthews and John Tavares play that position on the top two lines. This places a focus in this camp on Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson and the like. If those players can emerge more and push Mitch Marner down to a line with Tavares, what a three-line punch that will be for opponents to deal with. Caesars Ontario Sportsbook has +1500 odds on Matthews to win the Hart Trophy.
Goalie Joseph Woll Keeps Progressing
Keep an eye on this. Woll has nothing more to sell us after his play in last year’s playoffs, especially with his steely confidence in light of the pressure after No. 1 goalie Ilya Samsonov went down with an injury in the second-round series against the Florida Panthers. Woll has all the makings of a No. 1 goalie.
What About John Klingberg?
The Leafs signed the 31-year-old free agent from Gothenburg, Sweden to a one-year, $4.15-million contract. He’s one of several one-year free-agent deals the team signed this summer (same with Domi, F Tyler Bertuzzi and G Martin Jones). Klingberg has started camp supplanting Morgan Rielly on the top power-play unit, which was the most dangerous in the East last season. Rielly would lead the second unit, that would comprise players like Bertuzzi, Domi, and Calle Jarnkrok.
Klingberg brings vision, skill, experience and a big shot. But he has a reputation of being a hazard on defence. Last year with the Anaheim Ducks he wasn’t good – eight goals, 24 points in 50 games and a rating of minus-28 before he was traded to Minnesota. With the Wild he wasn’t bad, with two goals, nine points and a +3 rating in 17 games. He had a 67-point season (+10) with the Dallas Stars in 2017-18.
Leafs Grit Comes As Advertised
Domi, Bertuzzi and most of all Ryan Reaves bring a physical component that this current crop of players has never seen in the five years they have been together. Too many times there have been hits to star players after the whistle that have gone unanswered (see the WWE-style takedown of Knies by Sam Bennett in the Panthers series that knocked Knies out of the lineup). That should end now and give the skill players more of a lift. That’s one reason the Leafs are +220 favorites to win the Atlantic Division with BetMGM Ontario Sportsbook.
Samsonov Carries On From Last Season
One big surprise last season was the play of Samsonov, who took over the No. 1 goalie spot from Matt Murray. Samsonov finished last season with a .919 save percentage, a 2.33 goals-against average, and a robust 27-10-5 record, with four shutouts. The Leafs re-signed him to a one-year, $3.55 million contract, meaning it’s another show-me year for the Russian.