While the Toronto Maple Leafs have distanced themselves from the Florida Panthers of late and look to have a firm hold on the third playoff berth in the Atlantic Division, the same spot they held last year, most have seen this season as a disappointment for the club. The Leafs have endured an up-and-down campaign and even at their best have never truly competed for the division lead with rivals the Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. In fact, the Leafs still sit 18 points back of Boston and nine points back of Tampa, who hold a game in hand. Yet, president Brendan Shanahan is choosing to see the positives in Toronto’s season and Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston relays that the Hall of Famer is happy with the direction of his team. “Adversity is something that every NHL team will go through, for all teams and not just ours,” Shanahan said, “and it’s something that you can either meet and grow from or you can use it as an excuse and I like to think that our players aren’t using it as an excuse, certainly not in management or coaching.” Shanahan continued that the team is “never going to [be consistent] all 82 games in a row, but certainly doing it more often than not, and that’s something that our guys are learning and it’s something I’m very confident that they are going to continue to grow at.” Shanahan speaks further about the team, noting how hard it is to sustain success in the NHL, but stating that he is confident that the Leafs can learn to be more consistent to make the most of their considerable talent.
- Another name choosing to be positive in a tough situation is Drew Doughty, whose L.A. Kings face the Maple Leafs on Thursday. The Kings went from perennial Stanley Cup contender to a long-term rebuild quicker than anyone could have expected and Doughty, signed long-term in L.A., would obviously rather be back competing for titles every year. That doesn’t seem likely any time soon though and the veteran is just trying to take things day-by-day. “It’s very hard, but it’s the position I’m in, and I gotta try to stay positive every day, as hard as it is,” Doughty told TSN, “I have to make the best of it and just try to get better every day, both as a team and individually.” Doughty says that he is happy to see the talent of the prospects in the Kings’ pipeline, as well as the team’s numerous picks, and has already seen “flashes” from many of the current young players on the roster. However, no one is expecting a quick turnaround in L.A., Doughty included, so he will have to find a way to stay focused and positive for a while longer.
- One major positive for Kings would be good luck at this year’s NHL Draft Lottery. L.A. dropped from No. 2 to No. 5 last season with the maximum three teams winning the lottery, and they hope for a different result as they currently sit with the second-worst record again this year. The Kings are undoubtedly hoping to move up to the top spot for the chance to take generational winger Alexis Lafreniere. So, when will we know the draft order for June? The Athletic’s Corey Pronman reports that the expectation is that the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery to be held on Thursday, April 9th. This would be the second night of the NHL postseason, which could see the lottery drawing again held in phases throughout a night of playoff action. More will be known soon on the details of this year’s lottery.