The Maple Leafs Will Not Make the Playoffs in 2023-24


Jan 8, 2024

Over the past few seasons, we’ve grown accustomed to the Toronto Maple Leafs making the playoffs. The perennial contenders have made the postseason every year since 2015-16, establishing themselves as Eastern Conference juggernauts.

Still, their success has been limited to regular season accomplishments, a standard they barely meet in 2023-24. 

With so much going wrong in Toronto, we wouldn’t be surprised if the bottom falls out and the Leafs’ playoff streak ends. 

Have all the intel you need? Free actionable info is one click away! Sign up for our daily newsletter, SportsGrid Daily.

Goaltending Woes

The Maple Leafs haven’t been immune to goaltending issues, but those concerns are even more pronounced this season. The Leafs have already alternated between three netminders, resulting in significant problems. 

Ilya Samsonov was expected to be the primary goalie this season, but the Russian has fallen on hard times. Samsonov has the worst save percentage (.862%) and goals-against average of his career (3.94), precipitating his benching. 

Joseph Woll stepped up in a time of need; however, the Leafs were quick to pivot to Martin Jones. Jones has been a savior, but the veteran netminder is walking an unsustainable path. Anticipated regression puts Toronto in a bad spot over the campaign’s second half. 

Jones’ Career Norms

The available data supports that Jones is operating well outside normal ranges. His .932 save percentage is the highest since Jones broke into the league in 2014-15 and substantially above the 89.5% threshold he’s set over the five seasons. 

Predictably, Jones’s improved save percentage has yielded fewer goals against. Consequently, his 2.08 goals-against average is a new ten-year low.

Inevitably, Jones’s metrics will regress to normal ranges, bringing a slew of familiar issues to the Leafs’ forefront. 

Comparative Team Metrics

Jones’s performance is analogous to the team as a whole. The Maple Leafs have outplayed their metrics this year, putting them on the verge of regression over the latter part of the campaign. 

Underwhelming Analytics

Toronto has taken a step back from its usual position atop the advanced analytics categories. They are giving up more scoring and high-danger opportunities per game while attempting fewer. As a result, their expected goals-for rating has eroded to 49.8%, putting the Leafs in the bottom half of the NHL. 

However, the Leafs’ actual metrics put them ahead of the curve. The Original Six franchise is operating with the 13th-best actual goals-for rating and tenth-best points percentage, better than their 18th-ranked expected goals-for rating. 

Anticipated Regression

One way or another, the Leafs must outperform their anticipated regression. There are no easy solutions between the crease, and when Martin Jones falls back down, there’s no one else to take up his mantle. Similarly, the team as a whole is performing above expected levels. Unless they update their schemes, the Maple Leafs risk falling flat on their faces.

Divisional Concerns

The Atlantic Division features some of the top teams in the NHL, with a few up-and-comers looking to make a name for themselves. With an underwhelming 6-5-2 record against divisional opponents, Toronto could lose ground quickly as they wrap up their schedule. 

Betting Angle

That leaves an alluring betting angle for hockey enthusiasts looking for an entry point. Currently sitting third in the Atlantic Division, the Maple Leafs are priced as prohibitive -770 chalk to make the playoffs. Our analysis supports the Leafs’ chances might not be as likely as their betting price implies. Taking a stance on Toronto to miss the playoffs at +470 or better is our preferred play. 

Final Thoughts

Too many factors are working against the Leafs this season. Their goaltending has been an abomination; the team isn’t as good as their record implies, and they’ve struggled to keep pace with teams within their division. That’s a recipe for disaster in today’s NHL, and you’d be right for discounting the Leafs’ playoff chances. 

The current betting prices warrant a play on Toronto’s postseason reign ending in 2023-24.

Stay ahead of the game and elevate your sports betting experience with SportsGrid.

Thumbnail photo via Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Picked For You