It looks like the Leafs might be playing in an All-Canadian Divison after all

The dog days of the offseason are well underway, with the caveat being that we’re in the middle of November with no clear sign of when the 2020-21 season will start and how it will look.
It appears we have gotten better clarity on both of these Thursday as Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic provided updates with an NHL Board of Governors meeting set to be held later today.

Both the NHL and NHLPA continue to maintain a Jan. 1 target date for opening night, which means mid-Dec opening of camps (and 7 days before that for the 7 non-RTP teams from last summer). But that’s not written in stone yet. Could change. (con’t)
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 12, 2020

And finally, given the continued border restrictions, looking more and more like a 2020-21 season begins with an all-Canadian division at least until they can figure out how to cross the border later in the season… so that should be fun. But again, nothing decided for sure yet
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) November 12, 2020

It’s worth mentioning that the Return to Play Committee (which includes Zach Hyman and former Leaf Ron Hainsey has been a major driving force in these talks for the state of …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Rasmus Sandin is exactly what the Leafs need now, even if he doesn’t stick all season

With the obvious caveat that we shouldn’t read too much into preseason game results, this training camp for the Leafs has been interesting in a few ways. Toronto had significant roster turnover in the summer, and with these new faces like Spezza, Barrie, Kerfoot, and Ceci, there was a lot to take in about how the lineup would fit together.
It’s always fun to look at a team on paper and make predictions, but usually in the early-going of camp and preseason I find myself second-guessing everything when it looks like all the teams are the same. Now that things have settled out and the Leafs’ real lineup has taken shape, they look proper good from top to bottom, and a big part of that has been the quick emergence of Rasmus Sandin and a step-up in play from Marty Marincin. The two have been pretty clear winners for the 5-6 spots on Toronto’s blue-line, and their style of play is showing to be exactly what the Leafs need in those roles right now.
There’s almost surely a tall ceiling for Sandin to hit, probably sooner than later, but for now it’s tough to argue …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Good insider, Chris Johnston is reporting that Marner contract is a little closer

With the usual caveat that nothing is done until it’s done, it sounds like there’s been some progress in contract talks between the #leafs and RFA Mitch Marner.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 13, 2019
Folks, we’ll take what we can get around these parts and any progress is a good sign.

We are now sitting at a guarded risk of a Marner contract, and that’s worth celebrating depending on if you love 90 point wingers or if you love cap flexibility.
The fact that this movement is coming on the heels of various public negotiating tactics on both sides is probably no surprise. They’ve trying their cases for free in the court of public opinion and the verdict seems to be that an inflated year three in a Marner contract is insane. It’s insane that Marner continues to compare himself to Auston Matthews, and the only people who seem to still not be convinced on that are Paul Marner and those who believe holding an Ontario birth certificate is vital to future success.
On the Leafs side there seems to be pressure to avoid what was regarded as a failed negotiation with William Nylander, and to demonstrate …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation