A couple of CHL free agents for the Leafs to consider

It’s that fun time of the year when we got a number of NCAA free agent signings, a few European free agent signings, and a handful of Canadian junior signings mixed in as well. For the most part, the Leafs have focused their efforts on the European signings and those often come later in the spring, there have been a handful of NCAA free agent signings like Alex Steeves, Max Ellis, and well… I guess that’s it save for a lot of AHL signings. That tends to be Leafs preferred strategy of late anyway, but we’ll look at a couple of potential options that might be worth the Leafs busting out the NHL standard player contracts, after all, if they can take a gamble on Max Ellis, they can gamble on these guys too.
The Leafs also have only 31 committed to contracts for next season out of 50, so they can start having some fun on swing for the fences overagers. They only have three picks in the June draft, so restocking the prospect pool wouldn’t be a bad thing,
So let’s get to the prospects. Both were highlighted on 32 Thoughts this Saturday by Jeff Marek, and while there were a couple of defensemen mentioned as well, I’ve opted to zero in on the two centers that were discussed.
Ivan Ivan
Ivan Ivan …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Woll stands tall, Leafs beat Preds 3-2: Game Highlights

Joseph Woll earned his third win of the season on Sunday afternoon in Nashville. He stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faces. John Tavares scored twice and Auston Matthews had two assists. Below are the highlights from the game.
Woll was tested early but made two nice saves to keep the games scoreless…

Woll stops the deflection and the rebound chance from Barrie pic.twitter.com/6tMSZV5hJX
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 26, 2023

The Leafs rookie goaltender continued his stellar play with a beauty glove save…

Woll flashes leather pic.twitter.com/XpEgbMWQMu
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 26, 2023

John Tavares scored his 150th goal as a Leaf to get Toronto on the board. The captain finished a pretty passing play to make it 1-0…

— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 26, 2023

The Leafs doubled their lead just over a minute into the middle period. Alex Kerfoot scored with a wrist shot off the rush.  His second goal in the last three games…

LET IT FLY FOOTER 🎯 pic.twitter.com/uZXxNiz8j2
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 26, 2023

Later in the second Justin Holl crushed Rasmus Asplund with a clean hit in the neutral zone…

Justin Holl demolishes Rasmus Asplund pic.twitter.com/yGXe14FarY
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 26, 2023

Kevin Lankinen kept the Predators in the game by robbing Calle Jarnkrok with the glove…

what a sequence for the top line pic.twitter.com/QRya9BwWWy
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 26, 2023

A couple minutes into the third Woll made another fantastic save. He stretched out the pad on the 2-on-1 and made the stop…

W🚫LLER! 🧱 pic.twitter.com/x7upcPcNnH
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 27, 2023

Just over halfway through the final period. The Predators finally found the back of the net. As Tavares sat for interference, Codly Glass tipped the the Tyson Barrie point shot past Woll. 2-1…

— Nashville Predators (@PredsNHL) March 27, 2023

With less than five minutes remaining. The Leafs scored their second powerplay goal of the game. It was Tavares again. He cleaned up a Morgan Reilly rebound for a much needed insurance marker…

JOHNNY ON THE SPOT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/4tzEpDAll8
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 27, 2023

Nashville got back within one with their goalie pulled. Barrie’s point shot deflected off Holl and past Woll to make it 3-2. That was as close as they’d come. 3-2 Leafs final score.

Tyson Barrie brings the Preds back within one 👀 pic.twitter.com/ODDt24io2h
— Sportsnet (@Sportsn …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Leafs fall 5-3 to Hurricanes on Saturday night: Game highlights

The Leafs controlled the play for most of the game against the Hurricanes on Saturday night but Pyotr Kochetkov made 41 saves and  Carolina took home the W 5-3. Below are the highlights from the game.
Toronto got into penalty trouble early and the Hurricanes capitalized on the 5-on-3 to open the scoring. Brent Burns beat Matt Murray glove side to put Carolina on top…

Burn baby Burns! Canes convert on the 5 on 3 power play to open the scoring. 🌪️ pic.twitter.com/M49j9wBBuQ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 25, 2023

Jordan Stall doubled the Canes lead halfway through the first period. The puck came to him in the slot off a broken play and he swatted it top shelf…

Good things (goals) happen when you forecheck pic.twitter.com/KR6Zy68oKu
— x – Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 25, 2023

Near the end of the period Jake McCabe created a scoring chance off a neutral zone draw. Sam Lafferty tried to put the rebound home but Pyotr Kochetkov shut the door…

McCabe breaks through off the draw
Lafferty nearly scored on the rebound pic.twitter.com/9PAXPqvm6A
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 25, 2023

Less than five minutes into the second Calle Jarnkrok got the Leafs on the board. He sniped a wrist shot from the top of the circle to get Toronto within one…

SWEDE SNIPE 😮‍💨 pic.twitter.com/uBp1T92fKI
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 26, 2023

Midway through the middle frame Auston Matthews nearly tied it up with a scoring chance off the offensive zone draw. Kochetkov kept the Canes in front…

Matthews is denied again pic.twitter.com/MOuMPUOu3M
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 26, 2023

Matthews found the back of the net 12:41 into the second. He pounced on the puck at the top of the circle and ripped a wrist shot past Kochetkov to make it 2-2…

PAPI POTS IT 🏡 pic.twitter.com/sOjPPXkrjJ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 26, 2023

Just over eight minutes into the third period Stefan Noesen gave the Canes the lead again. Jesperi Kotkaniemi threw the puck on net and Noesen picked it up. He attempted a wrap-around then forced the puck into the net. 3-2 Canes…

UNREAL EFFORT pic.twitter.com/S1jlYOONR2
— x – Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) March 26, 2023

With less the …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, here’s how

The Leafs can clinch a playoff spot this weekend, here’s how

That tiny little “x” next to the Toronto Maple Leafs on the standings tables can be a real mood elevator. We should all feel pretty confident the Leafs are going to get there but there is a benefit to getting things squared away early too. Here’s what the Leafs need to do in their back-to-back this weekend or what other teams need to do over the next couple of days to give the Leafs their x, and what is still required to clinch home ice advantage in the remaining games of the season.

As it sits right now the Panthers winning all ten of their remaining games would give them 99 points and if they win their way out in regulation or overtime they’d have 44 regulation or overtime wins. With the season tiebreakers like goal differential and season series results still not fully determined, Toronto wouldn’t clinch this week if the Leafs won both of their games, they’d still require a Panthers loss. The Panthers have a game Saturday against the Rangers, if they win that it wouldn’t be until Monday that the Panthers can help the Leafs clinch.
Pittsburgh has the potential to reach 100 points if they won their way out of the season, but they can still help the Leafs clinch this weekend if they lose to Washington on Saturday. If the Leafs win both of their games and the Penguins lose, the Leafs are in. It would be nice if Brian Burke could successfully get the Leafs into the playoffs.
(Save for Islanders section)
Clinching Home in the first round
It goes without saying that this is going to take a bit more time to pull off, but as strange as it is to say, I don’t think the Leafs can really screw this up. The Leafs have a 5 point lead over the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs bounce back and beat the Panthers 6-2: Game Highlights

The Leafs bounced back from their worst loss of the year with a dominate win over one of the NHL’s hottest teams, the Florida Panthers. Auston Matthews struck twice, John Tavares assisted on three goals and Matt Murray broke his six game streak of letting in four goals per game. Below are the highlights from the game.
Toronto got started early with a powerplay goal from Matthews. He beat Sergei Bobrovsky with a perfect wrist shot from the top of the circle to put the Leafs in front…

TONE STRIKES FIRST 🚨 pic.twitter.com/XdiR3zW5ND
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 23, 2023

Calle Jarnkrok nearly added an insurance marker halfway through the first. Matthews hit him with speed entering the offensive zone but Bobrovsky denied him in tight…

good drive by Jarnkrok pic.twitter.com/8EbfXnWY5B
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 23, 2023

The Panthers barely tied it up with a goal from Matthew Tkachuk. Murray made a sprawling save with his back then somehow gloved the rebound. The review confirmed the puck completely crossed the goal line. 1-1…

Count the goal for Matthew Tkachuk! ✅ pic.twitter.com/dM0tYPJLPU
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 23, 2023

William Nylander put the Leafs back on top early in the second. Him and Tavares did work down low to get the puck to the net. Nylander cleaned it up to make it 2-1…

WILL NY! 😎 pic.twitter.com/m1LJLe3RKQ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 24, 2023

A couple minutes later Matthews did it again with another beauty wrist shot. He circled the net, turned and fired. 3-1 Leafs

💥 DOUBLE DIP PAPI 💥 pic.twitter.com/FkF6WttgYF
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 24, 2023

Nick Cousins got the Panthers back in it. The Leafs made some sloppy plays in the defensive zone and he made them pay by scoring a slick backhand from the slot…

Cuz is cookin’ 🔥 pic.twitter.com/zDohH8HHFZ
— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 24, 2023

Late in the second period Toronto finally got their first 5-on-3 …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Making sense of the Leafs defensive pairings

Making sense of the Leafs defensive pairings

Coming out of the last playoff loss to Tampa, and honestly the years before it as well, some of the criticism around Sheldon Keefe was that he wasn’t quick enough to adapt and was too insistent on sticking with his lines and his defensive pairings whether they were working at the moment or not. That’s where the objections to the rest line/pairing blender seem a bit strange, especially when Toronto is trying to find a fit for a number of new faces in the lineup. Complaining is kinda what we do and when it comes to the Leafs forward group it seems like everything is in a holding pattern until Ryan O’Reilly returns and the Leafs have an opportunity to make some sense of things. That said, the Leafs could truly benefit from some consistent defensive pairings, and it’s time to start building those so the partners understand what the other defenseman on the ice is going to do coverage wise and players like McCabe, who are …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Islanders hand Leafs their worst loss of the season: Game Highlights

It was a battle of the Ilyas between Sorokin on Samsonov on Tuesday night. The Leafs got an early lead but New York scored seven of the next eight goals. It was the most lopsided loss of the year for Toronto. Below are the highlights from the game.
Mitch Marner got the Leafs first scoring chance of the night. He weaved through the Islanders defence to create something out of nothing but Sorokin shut the door…

Marner wills his way to the net pic.twitter.com/X8Q7gudedd
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 21, 2023

Just over halfway into the first period Sam Lafferty opened the scoring. Timothy Liljegren’s point shot pinballed off him and Scott Mayfield and into the net. That’s Lafferty’s first goal in the blue and white. Bobby McMann picks up his first career NHL point as well…

LAFFS’ FIRST IN THE BLUE & WHITE!! 🔵⚪️ pic.twitter.com/RZX1CxY9H0
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 21, 2023

A few minutes later Sorokin put in his bid for save of the year. He reached back and absolutely robbed Erik Gustafsson with the paddle to keep the Isles within one…

Ilya Sorokin with a huge denial! ✋ pic.twitter.com/c4xh6Mn5OW
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 22, 2023

Zach Parise tied it up 28 seconds into the second. Mayfield circled the net and his shot banked off Liljegren right onto Parise’s stick. Tough bounce for Ilya Samsonov on that one…

Just like that Zach Parise evens the score for the Islanders 👊 pic.twitter.com/CnTwkYER8p
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 22, 2023

The Leafs nearly took the lead on a shorthanded break from David Kampf. Sorokin came out on top yet again…

Kampf gets a shorthanded break pic.twitter.com/HIst66W0C6
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 22, 2023

Hudson Fasching broke the tie late in the second. Liljegren fanned on the breakout pass and next thing you know it’s in the back of the net…

two zero makes it two one pic.twitter.com/y6SL8kemWE
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) March 22, 2023

The Isles doubled their lead before th …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation

Bobby McMann and Sam Lafferty could help push Maple Leafs’ slumping William Nylander

William Nylander finds himself on the Maple Leafs’ third line for yet another game, although that might not be such a bad thing.
The 26-year-old is having a career season, in both goals and assists. However, in the last few games, he’s found himself in a bit of a dry spell.
Nylander hasn’t registered a point in his last three games, which has only happened one other time this year (from January 5th to 8th). Is this something to be concerned about or could is it just one of those stints in a long season?
“He’s not skating to the same degree he was early in the season where he was a dominant player for us,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said to reporters on Monday. “We need to get him back going that way.”
Nylander, at practice on Monday, skated again on a line with Bobby McMann and Sam Lafferty. Those are two players with incredibly fast engines who can go north and south on the ice very quickly.
The goal for this line is to contribute to getting Nylander back on track, making him one of Toronto’s most dominant players again.
“I just find when the puck is hitting his stick, his fee …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

NCAA playoff update, Tverberg turns pro, Hirvonen comes up clutch: Leafs Prospect Roundup

The Leafs had a handful of prospects competing for conference titles in the NCAA this past weekend, including Matt Knies and Mike Koster of the Minnesota Golden Gophers. After losing last year’s B1G10 Championship against Michigan, the Gophers were looking for a measure of revenge against the Wolverines this time around.
As he has done so often in big games throughout his collegiate career, Knies came to play with the title on the line against a familiar foe. He helped to pull the Gophers even in the second period with a great defensive play that sent Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley in all alone, and the pair of star prospects from the 2022 draft made no mistake.

Great defensive play by Matt Knies springs Jimmy Snuggerud and Logan Cooley on a 2-on-0 and Minnesota pulls even with Michigan#LeafsForever #Yotes #STLBlues pic.twitter.com/et5SMWXEJL
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) March 19, 2023

His most impressive play of the night came just moments later, as he gloved down a puck in the neutral zone and fended off a couple of checks before bursting around a defender and taking the puck to the net for a great scoring chance that forced Michigan to take a penalty. Minnesota probably has a case that the goal should have counted, too.

Holy 💩 Matthew Knies pic.twitter.com/esETzcOnWA
— CJ Fogler AKA Perc70 #BlackLivesMatter (@cjzero) March 19, 2023

Knies showed off his repertoire of skills throughout the contest, making skilled plays with the puck and using his body to protect pucks and sustain possessions, but it wasn’t enough. After Knies found himself on the wrong side of a couple of fortuitous bounces in the third period, Michigan came away with their second consecutive B1G10 title.
It was a bitter …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Murray and Jarnkrok shine in overtime win versus Ottawa: Game Highlights

The Leafs didn’t have their best on Saturday night yet they came out on top. Matt Murray made 48 saves, Calle Jarnkrok potted two and the most snake bitten player on the roster may have got off the schneid by scoring the game winner. Below are the highlights from the game.
Jake McCabe opened the scoring with his first goal as a Leaf. He made a nice stretch pass to John Tavares to start the play. Then he cleaned up a Mitch Marner rebound to make it 1-0….

🔵 HIS FIRST AS A BUD!! 🔵 pic.twitter.com/PBWGpYr0Pg
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 18, 2023

The Senators tied it up with a lucky one late in the first period. Erik Brannstrom’s point shot deflected twice and bounced over Murray. Julien Gauthier got credit for the goal…

The blooper bounce off the draw beats Murray 😯 pic.twitter.com/27xYB2tjr3
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 18, 2023

Murray kept the game tied with an athletic pad save on Shane Pinto. Gauthier set him up with a beauty cross ice pass but Murray shut the door…

Murray makes the toe save on Pinto pic.twitter.com/IGDeiiy39H
— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) March 18, 2023

Tim Stutzle continued his breakout season with a shorthanded goal early in the second. The Sens’ superstar sniped one through the legs Timothy Liljegren and put Ottawa on top…

Tim Stützle shorty alert! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/mmNvNf386H
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 19, 2023

The Leafs weren’t behind for long. Marner tied it up before the penalty ended. He beat Mads Sogaard with a wrist shot short side to even it up 2-2…

A magical response 🪄 pic.twitter.com/anlDTfSfKN
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 19, 2023

Jarnkrok got on the board midway through the second. Auston Matthews teed one up for him and he blasted it past Sogaard. 3-2 Leafs…

HOLYYY CALLEEEEE!!! 🚀🚀🚀 pic.twitter.com/lYPY6gr4Lh
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 19, 2023

The Matthews to Jarnkrok connection did it again in the third period. Matthews feathered a pass through Thomas Chabot on the 2-on-1 and Jarnkrok buried his second of the night to put the Leafs up two…

STAY HOT, CALLE 🔥 pic.twitter.com/EebnZxKqCX
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 19, 2023

The Senators would not quit though. J …

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Author: Scott Ony / The Leafs Nation