This is one of those rare occasions where a team that you don’t cheer for wins a Cup, and you’re really happy about it. Just seeing Ovechkin and Backstrom hoist the Cup together drew a few tears into my eyes, and I barely root for the Capitals. So, I got into the giving spirit, and decided to look into players who I think really deserve a Stanley Cup, now that Ovechkin is off the list.
10. Trevor Moore
Trevor Moore has been through a lot in his young career. An undrafted player, he started his career playing in the USHL and with the University of Denver, before signing an ELC with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and getting his shot with the Marlies. He’s been killing it on their current playoff run, and, deserves a chance to make the big club, especially as a center, and eventually win a Cup with the team.
9. Travis Dermott
Travis Dermott hasn’t been in the NHL long, but he’s already established himself as a mainstay in the Leafs lineup, and for good reason. While his boxcar stats don’t jump out, his underlying numbers look much better, and imply that he could play a much bigger role down the road. And when you have this much fun scoring your first NHL goal, you definitely deserve to win a Cup or two.
8. Matt Martin
The times are changing again. Just when you thought that analytics were going to take over, the most recent Stanley Cup Final showed that teams still need some muscle in the lineup. Between Ryan Reaves scoring the series winning goal in the Western Conference Finals, and Tom Wilson being a key cog on that top line for Washington, enforcers should earn their due. As such, Toronto’s own enforcer definitely deserves a Cup of his own.
7. Jake Gardiner
This poor man has been through a lot during his time with the Leafs. From constantly being in Carlyle’s doghouse in his younger years, to becoming the new target for fans when things go south, Gardiner hasn’t exactly had the smoothest NHL career. And let’s not forget about his Game 7 performance that has drawn even more criticism, to the point that he was one of the most popular buyouts on CapFriendly. Despite that, he generally performs well, and kind of like the aforementioned Ovechkin, deserves a Cup to silence the haters.
6. Frederik Andersen
Now we’re starting to get into the territory of players who’ve been close. While Andersen hasn’t been super close during his time with the Leafs, he was one win away from the Cup Final in 2015 with the Anaheim Ducks, but because the hockey gods thought that a team with Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, and (*cringes*) Corey Perry really didn’t deserve a Cup, poor Freddy got the short end of the stick. Especially with the work he’s put in with the Leafs, he certainly deserves a Cup.
5. Patrick Marleau
By far the most tenured and experienced of the Leafs, Marleau is the kind of player who could get Hall of Fame consideration when he calls it a career, but he has yet to get that elusive Stanley Cup. Watching players like Jarome Iginla or the Sedin twins retire without winning it all makes you hope that that won’t be the case with a guy like Marleau.
4. Mitch Marner
Watching the Capitals celebrate their Cup win these last few days makes me wonder what a guy like Mitch Marner would do with a Cup, especially with his hometown team, so… can he win one please?
3. Auston Matthews
In just two seasons, Matthews has started to establish himself as one of the better players in the league, especially among the crop of young players in the league, and to be honest, it’s a shame that a player of his caliber hasn’t won the Cup yet. And with the way the mainstream media likes to focus on Cup wins, especially when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration, we best hope that Matthews wins it sooner rather than later.
2. William Nylander
You may ask me why I have Nylander higher on this list than Matthews, as Matthews is clearly better than Nylander, and probably deserves it more. However, my reasoning is simple. I would really like my son to succeed, and win it all. I don’t care if this is considered nepotism.
1. Roman Polak
And now, the guy deserves it the most, by far. Never has a player been through so much criticism just simply because a man loves the game of hockey, and wants to play. The slander made against him by those bloggers in their mom’s basements is completely unneccessary, and because of all this hardship, no one deserves a championship than Roman Polak, especially after he single-handedly carried the San Jose Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016 before losing it all.
Unless he signs with a different team in the offseason. Then I could care less.