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Morning Coffee: What are the odds the Maple Leafs win the Stanley Cup?

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​Failure is the foundation of success.

Somebody told me that once.

I don’t remember who said that, but it stuck with me, mostly because I still wonder about those words.

As I interpret it, it’s a unique way of conveying that failure provides an opportunity to learn, adapt, and ultimately rise even stronger than before.

Here’s the problem.

Time is the one resource we can’t manipulate.

The real challenge is adapting and ultimately correcting past mistakes in a short enough time to capitalize on a window of opportunity that will, in fact, inevitably close.

For example, the San Francisco 49ers are the early betting favourite to win Super Bowl 59.

However, they just went down as the favourite to win Super Bowl 58, they are slightly over the salary cap for next season, and the five players on their roster with cap hits over $20 million will all be 28 or older next season.

Can San Francisco really run it back with the same core, expect that veteran group to stay healthy, and improve enough to win the Super Bowl just 12 months from now?

Maybe they can.

But the Niners are running out of time to chase a ring with an aging group that somehow managed to stay relatively healthy this season and carry them all the way to the biggest stage.

At the very least, the 49ers got there.

Success inspires confidence.

It makes sense for the ownership and management in San Francisco to be intent on running it back one more time with the same core.

I get that.

I’m just not rushing to bet on the 49ers as the early favourite to win Super Bowl 59 at FanDuel.

 

Especially not in a league in which Patrick Mahomes is still the king.

This is the Morning Coffee for Tuesday February 13th, 2024.

What Are The Odds The Maple Leafs Win The Stanley Cup?

If you’re a regular here, then I don’t have to explain that I’ve spent the better part of the past six months giving out FanDuel Best Bet winners for the NFL.

I’m also a full-time television producer, contributor, husband, and the proud father of two lovely young girls that are the light of my life.

With a schedule as busy as mine, you’d think I’d miss the NHL headlines.

The thing is, I live just north of Toronto.

You know, the hockey capital of the world?

The swings of Super Bowl 58 were all I wanted to talk about on the office on Monday morning.

Instead, it seemed like all that anybody else wanted to talk about was how many games Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Morgan Rielly will miss due to suspension.

For a moment, I thought about asking the traders at FanDuel for a market for the number of games Rielly would miss for his reaction to Ottawa Senators forward Ridly Greig’s empty-net slapshot at the end of Saturday’s game.

I know, right?

Bad idea – I immediately scrapped it.

Ryan Reaves thought it was an “appropriate response”.

He also had this remarkable quote when asked about it.

While Maple Leafs fans patiently await the result of Rielly’s in-person hearing with the NHL this afternoon, there is an even bigger storyline surrounding this team that seems to have lingered over the past couple of months.

Should Toronto go all-in at the NHL trade deadline to contend for the Stanley Cup this season?

It’s certainly a thought-provoking discussion.

Armed with three of the league’s top-17 scorers in terms of point per game production, the Maple Leafs rank fifth in the NHL with an average of 3.44 goals per game.

At the same time, only 10 teams have conceded a higher goals per game than Toronto.

Only one of those teams – the Tampa Bay Lightning – currently occupies a playoff spot.

The good news is that Joseph Woll appears to be making progress in his return from an ankle injury.

The bad news is that the team’s goaltending situation remains tenuous at best, their depth behind the big three forwards has not consistently produced, and at their current pace a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals would likely require three consecutive playoff series upsets as an underdog without home-ice advantage in each of them.

When FanDuel posted its Stanley Cup Winner market for the 2023-24 NHL season, only the Edmonton Oilers had shorter odds to win it all than the Maple Leafs.

At the 50-game mark, there are now eight teams with shorter odds to win it all than Toronto, including four Eastern Conference teams in the Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, and the New York Rangers.

The fact that even the fan base seems torn about whether the Maple Leafs should buy or sell at the NHL trade deadline is a testament to the team’s lack of identity, which as I learned throughout the NFL postseason remains an underrated factor in a team’s championship potential.

We know that Matthews, Nylander and Marner will produce at a top-20 rate during the regular season.

We know that Toronto is a heavy favourite to make the playoffs at FanDuel at -720 odds.

That number represents an 87.8 per cent implied probability.

Beyond that, I’m not sure that even the most brilliant hockey mind can predict what we can expect from this current Maple Leafs roster.

Would I bet on Toronto to win it all at 14-to-1 odds?

 

All things considered; I’d need a better number.

For perspective, the defending Stanley Cup champion Las Vegas Golden Knights are also 14-to-1 to win it all at FanDuel this morning.

That’s a slightly longer number than the Winnipeg Jets at 13-to-1 odds, and a slightly shorter number than the Vancouver Canucks at 15-to-1 odds.

However, just because I wouldn’t bet on the Maple Leafs to win the Stanley Cup at 14-to-1 odds doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be a buyer at the NHL trade deadline.

After all, Toronto’s core group is clearly running out of time, and the organization needs to do everything it possibly can to understand its weaknesses, address them, and work to mold the team into a contender.

Regardless of past failures, anything can happen once you get into the dance.

I’d rather see what this roster can accomplish with a little help, than see the Maple Leafs pass on the opportunity in favour of a plan that is not guaranteed to play out as expected.

What do you think Toronto should do at the NHL trade deadline?

Hit me up @Domenic_Padula on X and let me know your thoughts.

I’m not arrogant enough to dismiss the Maple Leafs as a legitimate Stanley Cup contender with a couple of tweaks between now and the NHL trade deadline.

I just wouldn’t bet on Toronto to win it all right now.