Can the Leafs make the Playoffs next Season?

As we all know, the Toronto Maple Leafs have had a rough run in the past 10 or so years; sinking even lower, finishing dead last with 69 points and recieving the first overall pick in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft; where they will likely select future superstar Auston Matthews first overall. But, is there actually hope for next season? I think so.
The Leafs will (likely) be adding Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and Nikita Zaitsev, among other prospects and/or free agents to their 2016/17 lineup. So, let’s have a look at what I think the lineup will look like next season. (I will put a star next to “new” players).
van Riemsdyk-Kadri-Nylander*

Komarov-Matthews*-Marner*

Soshnikov*-Bozak-Hyman*

Greening*-Holland-Leivo*

 

Gardiner-Zaitsev*

Rielly-Demers*

Marincin-Carrick*

Andersen*

Bernier

So that’s potentially having 11 “new” players added to the lineup via organization, draft and free agency.

Let’s look at some of the Leafs statistics past points this year, since that was not pretty. The Leafs Corsi% in 15/16 was actually fairly good; they ranked 13th in the league at 51.34%; and with all of these upgrades, it’s fair to say that we could see a ~1% increase next year. If that happens, they would’ve ranked 6th this year, and for reference, the top 9 Corsi% teams all made the playoffs.

Now, what about xGF? Again, they fared fairly well, 50.86% is good for 12th in the league; if you add ~1% to that total based on player upgrades then that brings them up to 9th in the league. Only 1 top 9 xGF team failed to miss the playoffs (Columbus, terrible start to season).

And how about PDO (Sh% + Sv%)? They ranked dead last in PDO this year, meaning that luck played a role in their failure. Their xPDO was actually quite good at 100.23, ranking 5th in the league, and again, you’d expect that to go up adding all of these new players. I wouldn’t expect Andersen to significantly hold them up in the save % area either.

Right now, if they aquire Demers especially (or even a different D such as Schlemko), I have them pinned at 3rd in the Atlantic division, only behind Tampa Bay, and Montreal.

Most people are already writing the Leafs off for next season. But, statistically, they do have a solid chance of making it next year.

All statistics via http://Corsica.hockey/teams/

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