Around the quarter mark, which Leafs forward has underwhelmed?

Around the quarter mark, which Leafs forward has underwhelmed?

Tomorrow, the calendar rolls into December. American Thanksgiving has come and gone, and we have completed over 25% of the NHL regular season. The Leafs have played 24 games, and currently sit at 14-5-5. They have 33 points, and trail only Boston (who are having a historic start).
Just like last season, they came out of the blocks a little slow. Also replicating last season – the Buds have absolutely torched November. They’ve lost only 1 game in regulation this month, and have done so with some major injuries on the back end and in net. Multiple early questions have been answered, and the overall feel in Toronto is positive.
The d-core has performed heroically considering the injuries, and the goaltending has been very impressive. Most of the forwards have performed adequately, and there have even been some pleasant surprises up front. So, who hasn’t exactly pulled their weight? With more than a quarter of the 82 games played, our sample size is large enough to offer some evaluation.
Alex Kerfoot has had a lacklustre start to this campaign. In a season where many forwards are playing very well, Kerfoot would probably be the first to tell you he hasn’t contributed enough. Given his contract situation, and how he operates within this forward group, #15 is an interesting player to examine.
It should be said, I h …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

Exploring an Anton Stralman homecoming for the Leafs

Exploring an Anton Stralman homecoming for the Leafs

Whenever someone is put on waivers, the default answer to do you claim them should be no. This year the quality of players on waivers really has hammered that point home, and when you consider that as of this morning the Leafs cannot claim Stralman due to being at 50 standard player contracts already really makes the decision for the Leafs.
So all of those things considered, I still have a hard time getting the idea of Anton Stralman out of my head. He’s older, he’s not the player he was in his prime and he’s never been particularly fast and definitely not physical, but he’s always been effective. With a $1M cap hit, a right shot, and the Leafs regularly putting Mac Hollowell in their lineup, it’s not ridiculous to consider a defensive option that comes particularly cheap.
So here is the current state of Anton Stralman:
He’s played 8 games this season, he’s averaging around 14 minutes a night, and seeing about a minute of penalty kill time each game. His Corsi For % is 51%, and his expect goals % is as …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Holmberg earns praise, man-advantage Minten, Niemelä’s numbers: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Holmberg earns praise, man-advantage Minten, Niemelä’s numbers: Leafs Prospect Roundup

In last week’s Prospect Roundup, we took stock of a number of Leafs prospects and how they have performed through the first couple of months of the season. One of those players was Pontus Holmberg, focusing on his rapid ascension to becoming an NHL regular. Fast forward a week, and his case for staying put in the Leafs’ lineup has only gotten stronger.
Holmberg scored his first NHL goal in last Wednesday’s win over the scorching hot New Jersey Devils, a goal which stood as the game winner. He found the back of the net once again in Saturday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins – a great shot into the top corner over the glove of Casey DeSmith – and established a new career-high with 12:01 of ice time.

GOALBERG. pic.twitter.com/rB4A9bGcdf
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) November 27, 2022

Holmberg now has two goals and an assist through his first eight NHL contests, but it is his play away from the puck that has really endeared him to head coach Sheldon Keefe. He was even trusted with a couple of shifts on the penalty kill this past week as he continues to grow into a regular role on the team.

Sheldon Keefe on the play of Pontus Holmberg, says as a rookie they always try to go through tape about what they can show players to improve …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

Maple Leafs dominate Penguins on Hockey Night: Leafs Rundown

It feels like games against the Penguins are always slightly cursed, but this one worked out pretty well. The Leafs kept the pressure on the Penguins, earning a 4-1 win.
From that first early goal on, the Leafs were healthily in charge of this game. Here are some thoughts on the game.
Behind The Net
No, not the ancient, now defunct stats website. This is to do with the success Toronto had tonight forcing the Penguins defenders to face the wrong way. Twice they capitalized with a pass behind them that scored on Casey DeSmith. First on goal #2 by Pontus Holmberg, and again on goal #3 by William Nylander:

PONTUS HOLMBERG 🚨
WHAT A SHOT! TOP CORNER! pic.twitter.com/T3x8A8IOAQ
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

WILLIAM NYLANDER 🚨
IT’S 3-0! pic.twitter.com/UP2bygPzcb
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) November 27, 2022

Källgren performance
The Swedish 3rd string goalie has been filling in with the Leafs a lot this season, with injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. It’s not often that the 3rd stringer has the most starts, 2 months into the season, but with his 9th start for the Maple Leafs tonight, Källgren has that strange honour.
The netminder has only had 2 “quality starts”, plus a third excellent performance in relief against Boston; the remainder have been well below average. This 1-goal-against performance Pittsburgh is definitely a boon to his season stats. He did only face [SHOTS HOW MANY???] in this one, but this is an undeniable success.
No defenders, no problem
With 3 of the Leafs’ apparent top 4 defenders out on injured reserve at the moment, it would be expected that the team would struggle defensively. And certainly, the team’s shooting stats have taken a hit in that regard. In the last 2 games, the Leafs allowed a lot more even strength shot attempts against than normal, ~63 per 60 minutes, versus ~53 per 60 minutes for the previous 20 games. That’s a small sample to be sure …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Conor Timmins is “ready” whenever the Maple Leafs call his name, and tonight might be the night

Conor Timmins is “ready” whenever the Maple Leafs call his name, and tonight might be the night

“Whenever they put me in, I’m ready.”
Conor Timmins joined the Maple Leafs on Thursday in Minnesota, practicing with the team before they took on the Wild Friday afternoon. Although he didn’t play on the day after American Thanksgiving, it wasn’t because lack of readiness.
The 24-year-old just finished up a conditioning stint with the Tucson Roadrunners, Arizona’s AHL affiliate. He’s played six games since November 11th with the AHL club, and when he joined the Maple Leafs on Thursday, he noted he was “ready.”
However, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe had other plans.
“Our approach with him is to get him in, get him comfortable.” Keefe said in Minnesota on Thursday. “Obviously we have a great need and there’s great opportunity on our defence right now with the injuries that we’re going through. Yet, we want to make sure we put him in a good spot to succeed.
“Both in coming into a new team and the fact that he hasn’t skated, we give him today (in Minnesota) and get another skate (Friday)… But we’ll take it a day at a time from there.”
Saturday night will likely be Timmins’ first game in a Maple Leafs uniform. The team is coming off playing a game the day before and could use a body without many kilometr …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

The Leafs season has reached the quarter mark, and it’s been quintessentially Leafy. The Leafs stunk up October, reminded us that they are for real in November, and along the way have had five of their key defensemen and both of their NHL goaltenders miss a significant amount of time. In the spirit of the season being 1/4 over, I’ve asked the TLN crew what is their biggest positive and negative of the season so far. Here are their answers.
Scott Ony
The biggest positive for me has been the play of John Tavares. I expected him to be a massive disappointment this season but he has been a pleasant surprise and is on pace for his most points since his first season in Toronto. I thought the speed of the game would pass him by but he just does all the little things right and continues to rack up the points.
Although he has played fairly well in his four games the biggest disappointment is Matt Murray. Who would have thought a goalie who hasn’t made more than 30 starts since 2019-20 would run into injury issues? If he can somehow manage to stay healthy the move to acquire him might look okay but at this point, it’s a huge miss.
Bennett Jull
The b …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes completed a one for one trade. The Leafs sent Curtis Douglas to the desert, and got back Conor Timmins.
Douglas has played 13 games this year with the Marlies, contributing 1 assist and racking up 30 penalty minutes. He is a well documented giant, standing at 6’9. His ceiling with the Leafs was a 4th line centre, and he probably never had the skating to get there. Douglas was very well liked in the dressing room, and was a consummate pro throughout his time with the Marlies. I wish him the very best.
Now, let’s get to Conor Timmins. First, we should examine why Kyle Dubas is taking a chance, and what makes this such a good gamble. Before Timmins played in the NHL or AHL, he was a member of the Soo Greyhounds (go figure). He joins a lengthy list of Leafs to have played in Sault Ste. Marie, and was even a d-partner of one Rasmus Sandin.
Timmins was the first pick of the 2nd round back in 2017, going 32nd overall to Colorado. He was also a member of the Canadian World Junior team in 2018 where he won Gold, and led the tournament in plus/minus. He has also …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

What you need to know about Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mac Hollowell

What you need to know about Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mac Hollowell

Who doesn’t love NHL debuts?
We’re getting one with Mac Hollowell, who’s expected to man Toronto’s third line against New Jersey later tonight. With Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin out long-term, and no clear timeline for T.J. Brodie, the Leafs called up Hollowell and Victor Mete from the Marlies, with Hollowell skating with Jordie Benn on the third pairing during Tuesday’s practice.
It’s a long time coming for the 24-year-old, who made his AHL debut with the Toronto Marlies during the 2019 playoffs, with many of his defensive partners earning call-ups ever since.
Hollowell didn’t take any shortcuts to the NHL. He was drafted in the 12th round in 2014 by Kyle Dubas and was taken by the Leafs four years later as an overager. He played a fifth year with the Greyhounds before turning pro in 2019, where he helped fill a role on Toronto’s blueline during the playoffs. Hollowell then split the year between the AHL and ECHL, with him proving he was too good to be spending time with Newfoundland.
Hollowell was waived prior to the start of the season, but he’s been precious to the Marlies ever since. …

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Author: Steven Ellis / The Leafs Nation

Leafs squander another in OT, fall 3-2 to the New York Islanders: Muzzy’s Muzings

Leafs squander another in OT, fall 3-2 to the New York Islanders: Muzzy’s Muzings

Another OT loss.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Josh Bailey tied it late in regulation and Anthony Beauvillier notched the game winner 1:56 into the extra frame as the New York Islanders (12-8-0) came from behind to edge the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2.

Anthony Beauvillier wins it, 3-2 final.
Leafs fall to 1-5 in OT.
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) November 22, 2022

22-23: 1-521-22: 9-720-21: 6-719-20: 8-918-19: 6-817-18: 12-716-17: 7-15
— Nick Alberga (@thegoldenmuzzy) November 22, 2022

Furthermore, the Leafs fell to 6-1-3 in November and 10-5-5 overall. All in all, they played well enough to win, but again, they let one slip away in OT. John Tavares, who was playing in game No. 300 as a Maple Leaf, potted his 11th of the season. Meantime, Auston Matthews buried his 9th while Erik Kallgren made 21 stops in the loss. Mitch Marner extended his league-high point streak to 13 games.
The Leafs have notched at least a point in 10 of their past 11 outings.
 Muzzy’s Muzings:
OT PROBLEMS
It’s a comedy act at this point, no? Of course, it didn’t help not having Morgan Rielly out there, they were sort of forced to trot Justin Holl out there. Honestly, for me, it makes no sense how or why a team this talented has so many problems playing 3-on-3. You think they would excel with more ice to dance. Oh well —at least this format isn’t used in the playoffs.
MORGAN RIELLY INURY
Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious for Rielly. That said, the 28-year-old was unable to return after colliding with Kyle Palmieri in the third period. After the game, Sheldon Keefe disclosed it was an upper body issue that required further testing. BRUTAL. For what it’s worth, Rielly’s missed just one game since the beginning of the 2021 season.

Morgan Rielly needs some imaging done on his injury.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) November 22, 2022

RED HOT PP
After an ugly showing a …

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Author: Nick Alberga / The Leafs Nation

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Holmberg earns praise, man-advantage Minten, Niemelä’s numbers: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Welcome to another edition of the Leafs Prospect Roundup here at The Leafs Nation! We’re going to do things a little differently this week, and rather than highlighting a handful of players in the system and their accomplishments over the past week, we’re going to do a rapid-fire round and bring you up to date on some of the bigger names in the Leafs’ prospect pool.
Let’s get to it.
Nick Robertson | W | Toronto (NHL)
Robertson was a star for the Marlies down the stretch last season after recovering from a broken leg suffered early on, finishing the season with 16 goals and 12 assists in just 28 games. He carried that into training camp for the Leafs and had a stellar preseason, ranking among the top scorers from the NHL’s exhibition schedule.
Due to cap restraints, he was sent back to the Marlies to begin the season but was quickly recalled when injuries to the main roster opened up salary cap space. He started with a bang, scoring two goals in his season debut – including the overtime winner – but it has been an up-and-down ride for Robertson since then. …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation