Leafs prospects looking to shine at the World Juniors this Christmas

It looks like Edmonton will be back for Hub City 2: Electric Boogaloo.
A Hockey Canada press release announces the tournament will get underway on Christmas Day, a day early than the usual Boxing Day start:
For the first time since 2005, the IIHF World Junior Championship, a holiday hockey tradition, will get underway on Christmas Day. Three games highlight the opening-day schedule before Canada’s National Junior Team begins defence of its gold medal against Germany on Boxing Day.
Hockey Canada and the host committee, on behalf of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), unveiled the full tournament schedule Monday. All 28 games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta., from Dec. 25, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.
While most Leafs fans will default to cheering for Canada, there’s little doubt that our eyes should be elsewhere as well. The Leafs representation in the tournament is going to be decidedly Finnish and Russian, and while Nick Robertson could be the big focal point, Bob McKenzie is hinting that he might not be attending…

Zegras stayed in ANA to work out/skate there as did Kaliyev in LA and Robertson in TOR. Turcotte is in Germany, where he’s been assigned to play by …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 2002, Ed Belfour makes Maple Leafs debut recording a shutout

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 

This week in 2002 (Oct. 10), Ed Belfour made his debut with the Toronto Maple Leafs recording a shutout.
He had signed with the Leafs the July prior and was looking to rebound after a brutal season with the Dallas Stars — and that’s exactly what he did. He got off to a hot start in that first game as he stopped 33 shots en route to shutting out the Pittsburgh Penguins.
While he had a “rough” October recording a .909 save percentage, he blew the doors off the rest of the year. Playing in 62 games, he posted a 37-20-5 record with a .922 save percentage.
Over those three years in Toronto, he put up the best numbers of his career. He posted a 93-61-15 record and a .912 save percentage.
Belfour spent two more years in Toronto, before playing one season in Flordia prior to retiring.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
 

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Remembering Marc Gasol’s role in the 2019 Toronto Raptors title

With Marc Gasol’s decision to go back home and play in Spain, it seems appropriate to look back on all the reasons he was a valuable piece to the 2018-2019 Toronto Raptors. Before Marc Gasol, there was Jonas Valanciunas. The Lithuanian big man was always a fan favourite, and for years he manned the paint […]
Remembering Marc Gasol’s role in the 2019 Toronto Raptors title – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Kyle Oliveira / Raptors HQ

4 years later the Leafs finally sign Jimmy Vesey

If you travel back to the spring of 2016 there was a name on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and it was Jimmy Vesey. The star NCAA player wasn’t interested in playing in Nashville and was going to hit free agency. The Leafs were interested and just so happened to employee his Dad and have his brother as a prospect in the system. In case you don’t remember, the Rangers ended up landing Vesey, and Jimmy didn’t exactly go onto the stellar career that was promised. Fast forward to today…

We’ve signed Jimmy Vesey to a one-year contract! #LeafsForever
Details: https://t.co/H6dzk1gSdh pic.twitter.com/AjK4bcWkRR
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 12, 2020

Vesey is finally ours. For one year. At low, low price of $900k.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 2018, John Tavares scores first hat trick with Toronto Maple Leafs

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!

This week in 2018 (Oct. 7), John Tavares scored his first hat trick as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs squared up with Chicago that night in what ended up being a 7-6 barn burner.
Four goals were scored in the first frame that night with Jonathan Toews and Alex DeBrincat scoring the first two goals of the game. Toronto bounced back as Kasperi Kapanen and Auston Matthews scored before the frame ended.
In the second, it was the Tavares show. At the 3:56 mark he scored an even-strength goal before potting a powerplay tally five minutes later at the 7:37 mark.
His third goal of the game came in the third period scoring at the 9:29 mark. His third tally, seen in a Mike Commito gif below, was a snipe from the left faceoff circle.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

On this day in 2018, John Tavares recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Maple Leafs #Hockey365 #LeafsForever pic.twitter.com/GeZ6t8mBiU
— Mike Commito (@mikecommito) October 7, 2020

 

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 1997, Toronto Maple Leafs make Mats Sundin first European captain in franchise history

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday!

This week in 1997 (Sept. 30), the Toronto Maple Leafs made Mats Sundin their first European captain and the 16th in franchise history.
Sundin, who becomes captain of a franchise whose previous owner, Harold Ballard, tried to prevent the Soviets from playing at Maple Leaf Gardens, was asked yesterday whether the appointment will bring added pressure.
“They keep saying that,” Sundin said with a laugh. “Obviously, there’s going to be a lot of things asked from me, not only on the ice but off the ice as well.
“But I like it. I think I perform better under pressure.” – the Ottawa Citizen, Oct. 1, 1997
Sundin, who joined the organization two years prior in the historic Wendel Clark deal with the Quebec Nordiques, held onto the captaincy until he left the Leafs in 2008.
In his first year with the ‘C’ on his chest, he scored 33 goals and 74 points in 82 games for the Leafs. Over the course of his 13 year Leafs career, Sundin scored 420 goals and 987 points in 981 games. In the playoffs, Sundin scored 32 goals and 70 points in 77 games for the Leafs.
On Twitter: @zjlaing
 

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 2003, Toronto Maple Leafs name John Ferguson Jr. general manager

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 

This week in 2003 (Aug. 29), the Toronto Maple Leafs hired John Ferguson Jr. as the 12th general manager in franchise history.
He inherited a good team from Pat Quinn, but the Leafs took backwards steps every year Ferguson Jr. was managing the team. Despite a first season that saw the Leafs put up 103 points placing second in the Northeast division, the Leafs struggled in the playoffs.
While they beat the Ottawa Senators in seven games in the first round, the Leafs bowed out to the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round in six games.
They narrowly missed the playoffs with a 90 point season in 2005-06 and Ferguson relieved Quinn of his duties behind the bench in favour of Paul Maurice. Ferguson’s third season, 2006-07, saw the Leafs come out with another 91 point season and were a far shot from a highly competitive playoff season.
In his fourth and final year, the Leafs struggled mightily winning 36 of 82 games with an 83 point season. It spelt the end of not only Ferguson in the GM role but Maurice behind the bench too.
Ferguson didn’t make many trades in his time manning …

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Should the Leafs lean towards drafting more players from European leagues this year?

Now that the Leafs are back in the first round of the draft (although the ownership of the pick might be temporary) it’s about time we started talking about the draft a bit more. And one of the first things that comes to mind with this years draft is that there is rare opportunity to draft players who will be in the middle of their season, if teams look to the European leagues.
While most North American junior leagues have deferred their start times until December (with the exception of the QMJHL), players are presently reporting to European clubs and in the case of the KHL, they are playing their first games of the year today. It’s a rare opportunity to draft based on their post draft year, what a luxury.
Of course there are issues with this, as NHL teams are loaning players to any European team that will take them, likely bumping top prospects down the lineup or into European Junior leagues, removing the opportunity to see how players match up against veterans. There’s also the fact that if I’m writing about this, there are plenty of NHL teams that …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: Today in 1973, Toronto Maple Leafs hire Red Kelly as head coach

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 
Today in 1973, the Toronto Maple Leafs hired Red Kelly as the clubs head coach.
Kelly, 46, joined the Leafs six years after he retired from the club as a player. It was a long career as a player for Kelly, who spent 20 years with Detroit and the Leafs.
In Toronto, he scored 119 goals and 351 points in 470 games, a big feat considering he transitioned from a defenceman in Detroit to a center with the Leafs.
The eight-time cup winner had his most successful time as a coach with the Leafs following the previous stint with Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.
Over four seasons, the posted a 133-123-62 record as the Leafs bench boss taking the club into the playoffs each year. Their longest playoff run came in 1976 when they topped the Penguins in the first round before losing to the Flyers in game seven in the second round.
Kelly was fired after the 1977 season-ending a 30-year tenure at ice level in the NHL.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Throwback Thursday: This week in 1985, Toronto Maple Leafs sign Marian Stastny

Welcome back to another edition of Throwback Thursday! 

This week in 1985 (Aug. 12), the Toronto Maple Leafs signed Marian Stastny.
Marian spent only one-year playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs scoring 23 goals and 53 points in 70 games. He joined his younger brother, Peter Stastny, in Quebec starting in 1981-82 and spent four years there before moving to Toronto.
All in all, Marian saw good success during his five-year career. Over 322 games, he scored 121 goals and 294 total points.
His year with the Leafs saw a great rebound year after a tough 85-86 season with Quebec, but Toronto was unable to get out of the first round and Marian was held off the scoresheet.
His brother, Peter, had a much longer career having left the Czech league for the NHL in 1980. Peter was a superstar for the Nordiques with multiple 100-point seasons. Peter played 15 years in his hall of fame career scoring 450 goals and 1239 points in 977 games. His sons, Yan and Paul, both had long NHL careers too.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation