What the Maple Leafs Want and What They Might Have to Settle for at This Year’s Trade Deadline

Rumour season is upon us, so just a friendly reminder to look for the verification checkmark and double-check profiles before sharing the latest spoof post. But with it comes lots of speculation and anticipation for the March 21st trade deadline. Chris Johnston shared some insight this week on what the Maple Leafs may want to do, but also what they might have to settle for at this year’s trade deadline.
The first time was on TSN’s insider trading earlier in the week, where he said the Maple Leafs would prefer to acquire players at this year’s deadline with term remaining on their contracts. I don’t know how they would pull it off, but you have my attention, Mr. Johnston. The Leafs already need to move money off the roster to acquire anyone of note for this season. The 2022 offseason will be challenging. Jack Campbell, Ilya Mikheyev, and Jason Spezza will be UFAs, while Ondrej Kase, Pierre Engvall, Rasmus Sandin, and Timothy Liljegren will be RFAs. The salary cap should increase from $81.5M to 82.5M. Phil Kessel’s $1.2M in retained salary is also finally coming off the books. But almost all of that will be eaten up by Morgan Rielly’s new contract extens …

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Author: Stephen Brown / The Leafs Nation

Nick Robertson returns to Marlies practice for the first time since suffering injury in October

The Toronto Marlies welcomed back one of their most important players to practice on Thursday.
Three months after suffering a non-displaced right fibula fracture, Nick Robertson stepped onto the Coca-Cola Coliseum ice. The 20-year-old suffered the injury back in October, just two games into his second AHL season.
On Thursday, he joined the Marlies practice in a red non-contact jersey.

Nick Robertson is on the ice at #Marlies practice today. pic.twitter.com/2eHAxbvouT
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) January 27, 2022

Robertson participated in almost every drill that had limited contact. But more importantly, the 20-year-old was the final player off the ice during Thursday’s practice.
That’s no surprise.
The Marlies had some of the Maple Leafs development staff out with them once practice came to an end. Robertson spent most of his time after practice tipping pucks and then working on his conditioning.
There’s no word as of yet regarding when he’s scheduled to return to the Marlies lineup, but him returning to practice is a very good sign.
“It feels really good,” said Marlies head coach Greg Moore after being asked how it feels to have Robertson back practicing. “He’s such an awesome person… The little things he’s done during this time to try and level himself up during his time off has been really impressive. So, it’s good to see him out with the guys again, and be a part of the group. He’s a special player and we’re excited for when his return would be.”
The little things are what’s key to be able to return to the lineup and make a difference.
We saw that most recently with Alex Steeves, who worked on a lot of little things ahead of his return to the Marlies lineup. He came out on fire, scoring six points in his first four AHL games.
But what were the little things that Robe …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs should consider selling high on Alex Kerfoot at the deadline

We may be less than two months away from the trade deadline, but the speculation on who could be on the move is quickly picking up steam. It is especially the case when it comes to what buyers will do and what pieces could be involved in an attempt to upgrade their team for a better chance at a deeper postseason run.
This is why we need to talk about Alex Kerfoot.
The 2021-22 campaign has been a solid one for Kerfoot so far and it has been highlighted by a resurgence in performance that has not been seen since his last season with the Avalanche. In 39 games played, he has registered six goals, 21 assists, and 27 points. That equates to a 0.69 PPG rate, putting him on pace to finish the season with 57 points, which is 14 points clear of his previous career-high of 43 points in 2017-18.
It has been impressive to see Kerfoot finally find his rhythm after having trouble adjusting to the Leafs in his first two seasons following the infamous trade that sent Nazem Kadri to Colorado. But when you take a closer look at the underlying metrics, you see a player who is riding an unsustainable hot streak while also playing fairly similar to seasons past.
PLAYER
CF%
FF%
SF%
GF%
XGF%
SCF%
HDCF%
HDGF%
PDO
KERFOOT
51.09
50.88
51.32
62.50
52.09
54.47
53.93
59.38
1 …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Every Toronto Maple Leafs connection at the 2022 Beijing Olympics

In an alternate universe, we would be in the midst of a wild week of roster announcements and debate surrounding the NHL’s return to the Olympics. While we still won’t get to see the likes of Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, or Nathan MacKinnon at the Olympics for now, the upcoming Games still provide a high profile event that sees a lot of familiar names competing for their country.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs, that means a mix of current prospects and former players all heading to China over the next week. For some prospects, it will be their introduction to the fanbase on a grand stage. Then you have the former players, some of which will bring back fond memories of past teams, and others will have you going “oh I remember him!”
To get you set for the men’s tournament that begins on February 9, here is every player with a connection to the Toronto Maple Leafs competing at the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
The Current Prospects
Easily the most notable group of players attending the Olympics is the group of current Leafs prospects that will be representing their country in China. There will be three “true” Leafs prospects at the Olympics, with an additional two whose NHL rights still belong to Toronto.
Many fans …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

‘I personally feel the most comfortable I’ve felt in an NHL locker room’: Simmonds has the Maple Leafs’ back, and they have his

Wayne Simmonds has been through a lot in his NHL career, but in Toronto, he’s as comfortable as ever.
Entering an NHL locker room is never easy. Coming in as a brand new player, you want to fit in with as many players as possible.
You don’t want to rock the boat.
On Monday, though, we witnessed how tight-knit this Maple Leafs group really is.
After the recent racist events that transpired in the last week to both Boko Imama and Jordan Subban, Maple Leafs captain, John Tavares addressed it after practice on Monday.
“Before I take any questions, I just want to say a few things just on the few racial incidents that have happened in our game over the last little while,” said Tavares before any reporter asked a question. “I think it’s really important to acknowledge the I think the recognition steps that have been taken over the last little while to improve eliminating racism in our game.
“But obviously, we have a lot of work to do with learning and discussion and understanding and how we can continue to apply that and make a difference. Just continue to make our game better and that much more inclusive, so I just thought it was important to acknowledge that today — somethin …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Staal, Power headline mix of youth and experience on Canadian Olympic roster

The upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing won’t feature NHL players but that doesn’t mean that Team Canada, led by former NHL star Eric Staal, will be short on NHL experience. Staal, a former Olympic gold medal winner and member of the Triple Gold Club, leads the way with over 1000 points in almost 1300 games of NHL experience and will be looked to as a leader on a team that features a unique mix of talent.
Staal last played in the NHL with the Montreal Canadiens during their run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final and though he was relegated to more of a supporting role during his last couple of NHL seasons, he isn’t far removed from being a productive NHLer. He put up 47 points in 66 games with Minnesota during the 2019-20 season and figures to be an offensive catalyst for the Canadian squad.
“I have so many fond memories of competing at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and winning a gold medal on home ice, and I am honoured to once again be nominated for the …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: Something Something 3-1 Lead

You can take the Leafs out of the road trip, but you can’t take the road trip out of the Leafs.
Much like we seem to be getting all too familiar with, the Leafs took another 3-1 lead in the first period, only to blow it, but thankfully they’d hold on and win it in the shootout. It was a stain on an otherwise great game for the Leafs, which saw them absolutely walk all over the Ducks from a possession standpoint, doubling them in shots throughout the game, and getting a bunch of highlight reel plays going, even though they could only produce on the power play or the shootout. That just goes to show how great John Gibson was in the game, and made it a tough win still for the Leafs.
Three Stars
Third Star: William Nylander
Elite third liner William Nylander was one of many players to feast on the power play tonight, putting up a goal and an assist on the power paly for a couple of points, and also had plenty of other great opportunities to add more, but was robbed by Gibson.
Second Star: Mitch Marner
Mitch extended his goal streak to four games with an absolute bomb from the blue line, and also had a nice set …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Know Your Enemy: How the Maple Leafs match up against a youthful Ducks team

The Anaheim Ducks have been one of the more captivating stories in hockey this season, as a young team full of promising superstars has been getting win after win, and it just keeps looking more likely that they might make a surprise run to the playoffs. It reminds me a lot of the 2016-17 Toronto Maple Leafs team when Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander first joined the team. No expectations, just a lot of fun.
This team is similar in many ways as well. While they don’t have a player as talented as Matthews, Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale have loads of skill and will only get better, while the slightly older Troy Terry and Sonny Milano are having breakout years for the Ducks as well. They don’t have dominant possession numbers, but it’s far from terrible, and definitely sustainable, especially in a terrible division like the Pacific. And much like that Leafs team had Frederik Andersen to bail them out when they needed it, …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Relaunching the Maple Leafs Stat Pack for 2021-22

Did you know Alexander Kerfoot leads the Leafs in even-strength points?
Were you aware only three Leaf players are doling our more hits than they’re receiving?
Have you seen Kyle Clifford’s ridiculous-looking PDO?
Want to dive deeper into Jack Campbell’s recent performance?
Have you heard the Leafs have a top-three special teams group?
All these fun little tidbits were brought to your awareness by the Maple Leafs Stat Pack (MLSP), now live for the 2021-22 season.

This expansive Tableau dashboard, first introduced last season, is designed to be a one-stop-shop for deeper insights into our boys in Blue & White. The MLSP summarizes and visualizes Skater, Goaltender, and Team stats to help tell fans a better story about the performance of the Maple Leafs.
The dashboard, built using publicly-available data from Evolving-Hockey and NHL.com, is an ever-growing resource that will have new items added over time, so check back for new features or feel free to make suggested changes to Mark Norman via his Twitter.
Enjoy getting to know your team a little better, Maple Leafs fans!
Note: The MLSP is not optimized for mobile viewing, and show only be viewed on desktop devices. Plans for a mobile-friendly version are underway. …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Friedman: Ho-Sang’s contract with Leafs was close, but still likely

Monday was quite the monumental day for Josh Ho-Sang as he was officially selected to represent Canada at the upcoming Winter Olympics. After years of being mired in a complex relationship with Team Canada, he will head to Beijing alongside the likes of Eric Staal, Daniel Winnik, and Justin Pogge in the hopes of securing a medal. All of this while without a proper NHL contract from the Leafs.
Fans have been clamouring for Ho-Sang to get his chance with the big club because of his strong start to the 2021-22 campaign with the Marlies. According to Elliotte Friedman in his latest 32 Thoughts post, it turns out the Leafs were seriously considering giving him that coveted promotion during the height of the Omicron wave.
23. It sounds like there were some conversations about Josh Ho-Sang officially signing with the Maple Leafs when the team was battling injuries and COVID. But, by that time, it was known Ho-Sang was on the Olympic radar, and going on an NHL contract would end the opportunity. If it was known he’d be up for good, maybe it would have happened. But, it wasn’t worth the risk without a guarantee, and the team decided to wait. We will see what happens after.
What this boils down to is the Leafs have been thinking of adding Ho-Sang to their lineup but ended up waiting on what would happen in regards to the Team Canada selection. Now that it has been confirmed he will be heading to China for the Winter Games, there is a possibility talks could resume either while he is playing or upon his return to Toronto. Meaning that if he were to be given a contract by the team, it won’t be un …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation