News and Notes: Matthews returns, new lines, and a couple of injury updates

Following last night’s game which included the apparently unforgivable act of having a student athlete sit on the bench instead of an AHL goaltender, the Leafs have closed out the necessary steps in bringing in Michael Hutchinson as their emergency call up goaltender.
As expected, the Leafs bring up Michael Hutchinson

Whether your issues are that the Leafs shouldn’t have had to wait a game to do this, or if you are offended that the Leafs spend to the salary cap, you can take a deep breath and recognize that it didn’t really matter, and the worst that could have happened was Alex Bishop could have had the night of his life, and we would have been treated to a nice story at the cost of 1/82nd of the results of the regular season.
Mrazek will be out 14 days, which means six games. There are back to back games Friday and Saturday night this week, so it seems likely that Michael Hutchinson will get the start Saturday in Pittsburgh. If he sees anytime in net beyond that it will depend on the health and play of Jack Campbell.
Beyond Mrazek, there are a couple of other injury …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs day after thoughts: What’s wrong with Mitch Marner?

Nothing.
Mitch Marner has one assist through three games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. And for some reason, a lot of people are complaining about it. I don’t understand it.
The 24-year-old hasn’t produced in two of his first three games. So what?
A lot of fans are expecting Marner to be the best player on the ice. Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t. But you have to remember who he’s playing with right now. Nick Ritchie is without a point through the first three games, and John Tavares has two assists.
We’ve seen Marner get the chances.

Only a matter of time until marner pops what a chance pic.twitter.com/boCR665bq9
— Ah yes, the Leafs. (@LeafsAllDayy) October 17, 2021

In the clip above, he gets robbed by Anton Forsberg, who’s starting this season with a .935 save percentage. His career save percentage in the NHL is .904. So it’s safe to say he’s off to a fiery start.

Marner is having a game, Tavares couldn’t finish. pic.twitter.com/uO023sC6Yv
— Ah yes, the Leafs. (@LeafsAllDayy) October 17, 2021

In the clip above, Marner gets it over to Tavares, who also can’t beat …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

As expected, the Leafs bring up Michael Hutchinson

After Petr Mrazek was ruled out due to a groin injury, it was only a matter of time before Michael Hutchinson was brought up to fill the void. It took him a bit longer to arrive but the move is now official.

Goaltender Michael Hutchinson has been recalled from the Toronto Marlies on an emergency basis.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) October 17, 2021

The reason it took until today for the Leafs to recall Hutchinson was that the team was right up to the salary cap and needed to play one game short a man in order to invoke the emergency basis clause. It explains why the Leafs were forced to sign Alex Bishop as their EBUG for last night’s game against the Senators.
We also have an idea of how long Hutchinson will be up with the main club. Sheldon Keefe told the media last night that Mrazek is expected to miss two weeks while recovering from the aforementioned groin injury. What that means is Jack Campbell will be given the vast majority of the starts and Hutchinson gets no more than two games in the next two weeks.
Hutchinson is coming off a strong 2021 campaign where he finished with a 4 …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs: 3 stars from week one of the season (October 12-16)

Week one is officially in the books for the Toronto Maple Leafs after a long wait for the start of the regular season. Toronto started their first week playing none other than Canadian teams after playing them for the entirety of last year, so I’m just happy they got past this week so they can start playing some American teams for the first time since 2020.
They opened their season on Wednesday when they welcomed the Montreal Canadiens to town and took care of business picking up a close 2-1 win to open the year 1-0-0. We didn’t have to wait long for another Maple Leafs game as they took a plane and flew to Ottawa to play the second half of a back-to-back the next day. We all know what happened in that game, a very slow start and a three-goal period for Ottawa ultimately resulted in a 3-2 win for the Senators as the Maple Leafs pick up their first loss of the season.
Fast forward to Saturday night and they’re playing, you guessed it, the Ottawa Senators, yet again. This time Toronto actually started on time and they pounced early with two goals in …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Three Stars: Maple Leafs finally start on time in 3-1 over Ottawa

After two shaky games where the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their habit of getting completely outplayed by their opponents during the first ten minutes, the script was reversed with two early L
eafs goals being all that was needed in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. It was without a doubt the best team performance from the boys in blue and white thus far into the young season, and despite Ottawa nearly tying the game late in the second period before an offside review overturned what would have been the game tying goal, Toronto controlled play and dominated their provincial rivals through most of the contest.
3rd Star: Jack Campbell
With an emergency backup goalie riding the bench after an injury to Petr Mrázek earlier in the week, Jack Campbell continued to show that last year was no fluke. Appearing in all three Leafs games so far this season, Campbell has posted a 0.968 save percentage and looked downright dominant while doing so. While Frederik Andersen had his moments of brilliance while with the team, Jack Campbell is showing the kind of consistency the Maple Leafs haven’t had since the days of Ed Belfour. Campbell has shown that he’ …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

News and Notes: The Leafs sign an EBUG, Holl out Liljegren in, Mrazek won’t be out long-term

So the 2021-22 season is not even a week old yet and the Leafs are already in full chaos mode with all of the news circulating this morning in regards to the lineup and the status of some injured players.
We begin with the biggest story of them all, which is the Leafs being short on cash and resorting to unique methods to get around that problem.

The #leafs don’t have the cap space to call up a goaltender to take Petr Mrazek’s spot behind Jack Campbell tonight. They will likely sign U of T goalie Alex Bishop to an amateur tryout to back up Campbell.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 16, 2021

What, David Ayres was not available?
Jokes aside, this must be huge for Alex Bishop who has posted decent numbers during his time in the QMJHL and USports. He is in his senior year at the University of Toronto so this will surely be a moment he will never forget. He will most likely sit on the bench for the entire game, but it wouldn’t shock me if Sheldon Keefe were to do him a solid and let him play the final few minutes depending on how things go …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs look for redemption with a Saturday night rematch against the Ottawa Senators

Following Thursday’s disappointing showing, the Buds return to Scotiabank Arena for an encore tilt with the Ottawa Senators. Thursday’s game could have gone better to put things lightly. The team sputtered out of the gates, fell behind early, saw Petr Mrazek go to the ice awkwardly with a groin injury, then finally had their comeback hopes dashed by a questionable penalty call, extinguishing their last chances following a late comeback attempt.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Saturday night game without a little bit of drama, which was exactly the case as the team settled into their morning skate with a pair of notable inclusions. For starters, it looks like Timothy Liljegren, the forever prospect that is somehow still only 22, will get his first game action of the season tonight per Kristen Shilton, with Justin Holl absent from morning skate. Holl is reportedly feeling under the weather, though his PCR test has come back negative per Sheldon Keefe.
The other notable inclusion at morning skate was goaltender Alex Bishop, a 24-year-old University of Toronto product, who was on the ice due to Mrazek’s injury. While it initially appeared that he would simply serve as a placeholder …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

Keefe’s Leafs: what is this team doing differently?

After two incomplete seasons as the Leafs’ head coach, it feels like Sheldon Keefe has been around here a long time. But at the head coaching position in the NHL, he came into this season with just over 100 games under his belt, a little more than 1 full season.
Now, 2 games into the year, we’re already hearing rumblings of whether he’s the right fit for this team. In those partial seasons, Keefe’s Leafs had a better in-season record than any of Mike Babcock’s Leafs. Of course, there’s an asterisk on the 2020-21 season because they got to beat up on the Ottawa Senators for a higher percentage of their games than normal (notwithstanding Thursday night’s disappointment). Still, his overall points percentage with Toronto is 65.7%, a fair notch higher than Babcock’s tenure here with 55.7%.
What I’m curious about, which perhaps you’re curious about it too which and that’s why you’re here, is: what is Keefe having this team do differently at 5v5, and how does that bear itself out in the numbers?
The head coach is the primary influence at 5v5, while assistant coaches generally run the special teams on the …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

There is no easy path to keeping Morgan Rielly beyond this season

The second Charlie McAvoy was signed today my mind went where any reasonable person’s mind should go, and that was to how it affects the Leafs. Contracts for Seth Jones, Darnell Nurse, Dougie Hamilton, and others already set the bar high for Morgan Rielly and should have essentially torched the idea of Rielly accepting a team friendly contract under the $7M mark. Now team friendly seems like $8M. The McAvoy contract makes that even harder…

Charlie McAvoy #NHLBruins8 yr, $76 mil$49.5m sal$26.5m sign bonus
22-23: $6m + $3.25m SB23-24: $7.75m + $3.25m SB24-25: $8.5m + $3m SB25-26: $8.5m + $3m SB26-27: $6m + $4m SB27-28: $3.75m + $4m SB28-29: $4.5m + $3m SB29-30: $4.5m + $3m SBFull NMC from 7/1/25 – 5/31/28
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 15, 2021

There is obviously a strong argument that McAvoy is better than Rielly. There’s a benefit to paying a younger defenseman throughout his entire prime rather than taking a chance on how the player will perform later in their career, but it doesn’t change that teams are paying legitimate number one defensemen over $9M, and Morgan Rielly falls into that category.
So the Leafs have the benefit of the salary cap possibly going up. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

A Look at a Leaf: William Nylander vs. the Canadiens (October 13)

Well, here’s to a new Toronto Maple Leafs season and a new series I had formulated in my head, in which I will focus on and breakdown one player’s performance for (hopefully) a majority of Leafs games.
Some of these will be longer than others, some might not even be about a good performance, but I’m looking forward to it and to this upcoming season. Fans are back, we’re getting an 82-game schedule as long as everything goes smoothly, so things are looking up this. The Leafs opened their season against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday with a 2-1 win and there was a good amount to breakdown. Specifically, who better to start this season with than William Nylander, who I think is poised to have yet another breakout season this year.
Nylander is always one of the most-talked Leafs and for good reason. He is coming into this season looking to build on a successful campaign last year that saw him net 42 points in 51 games. To be fair, the Leafs all faced a terrible, terrible fate in the playoffs at the hands of the Canadiens, but out of all the Maple Leafs in that series, …

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Author: Matthew Rodrigopulle / The Leafs Nation