Last night the final playoff spot left was secured by the Toronto Maple Leafs, following their 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Maple Leafs were god awful last season, they won 29 games, and managed to only accumulate 69 points. This left them with the #1 overall pick in the NHL draft, where they selected Auston Matthews, who turned this entire franchise around in the blink of an eye.
Matthews doesn't deserve all the credit though, the Maple Leafs front office has done a great job of turning this team around. They added Frederick Andersen, the stud goalie from Anaheim that brought them deep into the last couple Stanley Cup playoffs with his ridiculous play in net. He's been nice security blanket for them in goal this season, which has probably made the second biggest impact besides for Matthews on this team. The Maple Leafs also got healthy, James van Riemsdyk played a full season this year having one of, if not his best season yet. He's been Auston Matthews right hand man all season making Matthews job a whole lot easier. Connor Brown also got to play in his first full year and he certainly took advantage. He's no superstar, but without him this team certainly is not where they are because he provided a lot of points this season. Morgan Rielly has consistently been a solid defenseman for Toronto the last few years, but when Nikita Zaitsev broke onto the scene, really securing that defense up, is when the Maple Leafs were able to take that next step defensively. These key additions made all the difference in the Maple Leafs going from worst in the league to a playoff team.