5 Greatest Toronto Maple Leafs of All Time

When you have a history that’s as long as the Toronto Maple Leafs, there are going to be some great players that end up making their way through the franchise. In fact, no other franchise has put more players into the Hockey Hall of Fame, so it can be quite difficult to say who the very best of the best were.

We’re going to do just that, however, and take a look at the five greatest Toronto Maple Leafs of all time (in no particular order). Before we start the list, here are some Maple Leafs who just missed the cut: Wendel Clark, Dave Keon, Mats Sundin, Frank Mahovlich, Tim Horton, and Red Kelly.

Borje Salming

Sweden has produced a lot of great hockey players, especially on defense. Among the greatest is the late Borje Salming, who spent all but one of his 17 NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs. Salming came into the league in 1973 and had an immediate impact, putting together a +38 tally and 39 points as a rookie.

He only continued to get better and was named to the All-Star Team for six consecutive seasons. Salming finished his Maple Leafs run after the 1988-89 season, collecting a total of 768 points and 1,292 penalty minutes for Toronto. He played for one more season with Detroit before calling it quits and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1996.

Johnny Bower

While there have been a lot of talented skaters to make their way through the Maple Leafs franchise, the goaltender is a position that has been inconsistent since the days of Johnny Bower. Bower entered the league very late, making his debut at 29 years old with the New York Rangers. After three seasons in the Big Apple, Bower spent the final 12 seasons of his career with the Maple Leafs.

During that time, Bower won the Vezina Trophy twice and was named to the NHL All-Star Team. He started 475 games with Toronto and posted a record of 219-157-79, a .922 save percentage, and a 2.50 goals against average. Bower was 45 years old when he retired in 1970, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame six years later.

Darryl Sittler

Darryl Sittler may not have spent his entire career with the Maple Leafs, but he was the face of the franchise throughout the entirety of the 1970s. He joined the team at the start of the decade, and throughout his 20s became one of the best players in the NHL. Almost every year saw him in contention for the Hart Trophy, and in 1978 he became an All-Star for the first time.

Sittler played in a total of 844 games for the Maple Leafs and scored 389 goals with 527 assists, good enough for 916 total points. Sittler then went on to join the Philadelphia Flyers and Detroit Red Wings before retiring at 34 years old in 1985, and joining the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. At the time of his retirement, nobody had ever scored as many points as a Maple Leaf as Sittler, who was eventually passed by Mats Sundin.

Auston Matthews

It can be hard to be considered an all-time great for such a historic franchise by the time you’re in your mid-20s, but that’s what Auston Matthews did. The American player from Arizona was highly sought-after when he entered the 2016 NHL Draft, and the Maple Leafs were able to win the lottery and acquire his services. Matthews certainly lived up to the pre-draft hype, too.

In his first season, Matthews won the Calder Trophy thanks to 69 points in 82 games at just 19 years old. Matthews then established himself as one of the top players in the entire NHL, averaging well over one point per game. With multiple All-Star selections and scoring titles, Matthews is undoubtedly a Maple Leafs legend already.

Doug Gilmour

Doug Gilmour made his way around the NHL quite a bit, playing for seven different teams throughout his long career. No team got more out of Gilmour than the Maple Leafs, though, in terms of both production and time. Gilmour spent seven different seasons in Toronto, appearing in 393 total games.

Over that span, Gilmour had an impressive 452 points and won himself a Selke Trophy along the way. The most impressive seasons for Gilmour came during the 1992-93 and 1993-94 campaigns. In those two seasons combined, he was able to amass 238 points including 59 goals. Gilmour returned to Toronto in his final NHL season, appearing in one last game in 2003 before calling it a career.

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