The 2010s have been an up and down decade for the Maple Leafs to say the least. With everything from improbable playoff appearances, playoff meltdowns, last-place finishes, and newfound hope, with a very talented young core to finish off the decade.
Through these ups and downs, many have donned the Blue and White, and I have compiled a list of which of those players best represent the Toronto Maple Leafs of the past decade.
Here are the players who made a big impact on the Leafs this decade but didn’t quite make it onto my list. They can easily step in to play for any injured players.
Mikhail Grabovski: The crafty centre played 5 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs but could just never stay healthy. The only full season he played in his Leafs tenure was the lockout-shortened season in 2013. His best season came in the 2010/11 season where he scored 29 goals and 29 assists in 81 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 340GP, 91G, 117A, 208pts
Nikolai Kulemin: This winger became a fan-favourite throughout his time with the Leafs, by using his feisty playing style to win many fans over. His best season came in 2010/11 when he scored 30 goals and 27 assists in 82 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 421GP, 84G, 111A, 195pts
Ron Hainsey: Hainsey was a very polarizing player in his time with the Leafs but was an overall steady defender who ate up a lot of minutes on the top-pairing and brought a good veteran presence to a very young team. His best season came in the 2018/19 season with the Leafs, where he played in 81 games, scoring 5 goals and 18 assists while also putting up a +30 rating.
Leafs stats this decade: 161GP, 9G, 37A, 46pts
James Van Riemsdyk, Auston Matthews, Phil Kessel
James Van Riemsdyk: A fan-favourite and one of the most consistent Leafs of this decade from an offensive perspective, JVR used his crafty hands in front of the net to produce and was money in the bank for at least 50 points a season in his 6 years with the Leafs. His best season with the Buds came in 2016/17 when he scored 29 goals and registered 33 assists for 62 points.
Leafs stats this decade: 413GP, 154G, 140A, 294pts
Auston Matthews: The saviour of the franchise! Auston Matthews was the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He’s a big reason why the Leafs are now perennial playoff contenders. In his roughly three and a half seasons in the NHL, Matthews has used his deadly wrist shot to solidify himself as one of the best scorers in the league. His best season so far came last season, when he scored 37 goals and 36 assists for 73 points in only 68 games played.
Leafs stats this decade: 250GP, 135G, 113A, 248pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Phil Kessel: Kessel came to Toronto from Boston as one of the league’s most prolific goal scorers at the time. Kessel continued to score as a member of the Leafs, using his lethal shot from the right side of the ice to completely dismantle the opposition. Kessel’s best season with the Blue and White came in 2011/12 where he scored 37 goals and 45 assists for 82 points in 82 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 446GP, 181G, 213A, 394Pts
Clarke MacArthur, John Tavares, Mitch Marner
Clarke MacArthur: Probably one of the more underrated players on this list, MacArthur played in three seasons with the Leafs, scoring 20 goals twice. His best season was in 2010/11 where he scored 21 goals and 41 assists for 62 points in 82 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 195GP, 49G, 76A, 125pts
John Tavares: The new Captain of the Leafs hasn’t even been in Toronto for two seasons yet, but has made a huge impact on the Leafs this decade. Tavares has emerged as a leader on and off the ice for this young team, scoring a career-high of 47 goals last season.
Leafs stats this decade: 113GP, 51G, 56A, 117pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Mitch Marner: What isn’t there to like about Marner? His high energy style of play mixed with his on-ice creativity makes him a fan-favourite and a nightmare for opposing teams to deal with. His best season so far came last season, where he lead the Leafs with 94 points in 82 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 268GP, 77G, 182A, 259pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Joffrey Lupul, Nazem Kadri, William Nylander
Joffrey Lupul: Another underrated player on this list, Lupul was a member of the Leafs for parts of 6 seasons after arriving from the Ducks in a trade during the 2010/11 season. Lupul was a very productive player but, unfortunately, just couldn’t stay healthy, as he never played a full season in the Blue and White. Lupul’s best season came in 2011/12 when he put up 67 points in 66 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 280GP, 88G, 94A, 182pts
Nazem Kadri: The tenacious and skillful centre was a very important part of the Leafs for many years throughout the decade. Kadri flourished as a two-way player in Toronto. He was able to shut down the opposition’s top talent while also putting up points. His best season came in 2016/17 when he eclipsed the 30 goal and 60 point mark for the first time in his career.
Leafs stats this decade: 561GP, 161G, 196A, 357pts
William Nylander: By far the most polarizing player on this list, Nylander checks into this list as a 3rd line left-winger. Nylander broke into the league with back-to-back 61 point seasons and is on pace to pass that career-high with a great start to this season.
Leafs stats this decade: 277GP, 69G, 121A, 190pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Zach Hyman, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov
Zach Hyman: The tenacious winger refuses to step down from any battle. Hyman has been with the Leafs for parts of the last 5 seasons. His best season came in 2018/19 when he scored a career-high in goals with 21.
Leafs stats this decade: 270GP, 58G, 71A, 129pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Tyler Bozak: In his time with the Leafs, Bozak was a very reliable forward for the Leafs and is probably most remembered for scoring the Overtime winning goal in game 3 of the 2016/17 Playoffs against the Washington Capitals to give the Leafs a 2-1 series lead. Bozak’s best season with the Leafs came in 2016/17 where he scored a career-high 55 points.
Leafs stats this decade: 594GP, 196G, 229A, 365pts
Leo Komarov: Uncle Leo! Komarov was a pesky player for opposing teams to play against. He loved to throw his body around and get under the skin of the opposition, making him a fan-favourite. His best season came in 2015/16 where he scored a career-high 36 points. That year, he was nominated to represent the Leafs in that season’s All-Star Game.
Leafs stats this decade: 327G, 52G, 70A, 122pts
Morgan Rielly, Dion Phaneuf
Morgan Rielly: Drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2012, Rielly has since solidified himself as one of the top defenders in the NHL. Rielly has been such a solid defenseman for the Leafs for so long, it’s hard to believe he is still only 25-years-old and can still become even better than he already is. His best season came last year when he scored a career-high 72 points and finished 5th in voting for the Norris Trophy.
Leafs stats this decade: 508GP, 54G, 213A, 267pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Dion Phaneuf: One of the more under-appreciated Leafs of this decade, Phaneuf served as captain for the Leafs from the 2011/12 season until he was traded away to the Senators in 2016. Playing in Toronto has its ups and downs, and Phaneuf definitely felt that during his time here. Phaneuf had some really good years in Toronto however, especially in 2011/12 when he put up 12 goals and 32 assists, his best season as a Leaf.
Leafs stats this decade: 423GP, 45G, 151A, 196pts
Jake Gardiner, Jake Muzzin
Jake Gardiner: Gardiner was a Leaf for 8 seasons and was another very polarizing player. Gardiner played a very offensive-minded game by being able to utilize his smooth skating and great puck handling to join in on the rush. His best season with the Leafs came in 2017/18 when he scored a career-high 52 points in 82 games.
Leafs stats this decade: 551GP, 45G, 200A, 245pts
Jake Muzzin: Muzzin has not been with the Leafs very long but he has made a great impression since coming over from the LA Kings in January 2019. Muzzin is a great all-around defenseman. He can play a physical game, shut it down in the defensive zone, and can also provide some offense.
Leafs stats this decade: 67GP, 8G, 21A, 29pts. *As of Dec 26, 2019
Tomas Kaberle, Cody Franson
Tomas Kaberle: The king of the secondary assist! This long-time Leaf only played 99 games for the Leafs this decade but he is just too good to not include on this list. At the trade deadline in 2011, Kaberle was traded to the Boston Bruins where he went on to win the Stanley Cup.
Leafs stats this decade: 99GP, 6G, 46A, 52pts
Cody Franson: Franson was on the Leafs for parts of 4 seasons this decade. He may be most remembered for scoring two goals in the infamous 2013 Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins. Franson’s best season in Toronto came in 2013/14 where he scored 33 points.
Leafs stats this decade: 236GP, 20G, 95A, 115pts
Frederik Andersen: Probably the easiest addition to this all-decade team, Andersen has been among the NHL’s top goalies since being traded to the Leafs from Anaheim. For the past 4 seasons, Andersen has been the backbone to the Leafs’ success and hopes to bring his steadiness in the crease into the 2020s.
Leafs stats this decade: 222GP, 126-61-29, .917SV%, 2.27GAA, 11SO. *As of Dec 26, 2019
James Reimer: Optimus Reim! Reimer served as the Leafs goalie for nearly six seasons and quickly became a fan favourite. His calmness and consistency brought a steadiness to the Leafs goal crease that wasn’t seen for a long time and helped lead the Leafs to their first playoff birth in eight years back in 2013.
Leafs stats this decade: 207GP, 85-76-23, .914SV%, 2.83GAA, 11SO
There you have it! My all-decade Toronto Maple Leafs! All these players played a big part in the little success the Leafs had this decade and also helped Leafs fans get through those dark times this franchise faced this decade. Now, it’s time to see what this young core can give Leafs fans in the next decade to come.
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