Toronto Maple Leafs one of just two NHL teams with zero prospects at 2023 World Juniors

Toronto Maple Leafs one of just two NHL teams with zero prospects at 2023 World Juniors

Being one of the National Hockey League’s top teams comes at a cost.

Boxing Day typically marks the start of the World Juniors, one of the hockey world’s most exciting events, and this year is no different. The 2023 World Junior Championship begins today with four games: Finland/Switzerland, Sweden/Austria, Latvia/USA, and Czechia/Canada.
But, for the first time since 1982, the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t have a single prospect taking part in this year’s World Juniors. A four-decade streak of Maple Leafs representation will come to an end when the first puck drops on Monday.
In a sense, it’s understandable. With a 21–7–6 record through the first three months of the season, the Leafs are a Stanley Cup contender with the desire to win now. They’ve made just eight picks over the last two drafts.
But the cupboards aren’t completely bare. Matthew Knies is just barely too old to play for Team USA this year, while Ty Voit was a curious omission on the part of USA Hockey considering his fantastic statline with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. The Leafs selected both Knies and Voit in 2021.
Meanwhile, 2022 fifth-round pick Nikita Grebenkin would’ve been a shoo …

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Author: Mike Gould / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs need to improve their mentality to become tough by committee

The Leafs need to improve their mentality to become tough by committee

When it comes to the playstyle of the Leafs, one thing that consistently gets brought up in terms of an area of weakness is the lack of the team being tough to play against.
Meaning that players on the Leafs can be cross-checked, high-sticked, or slashed and their teammates will not put up much resistance to let the opposition know that they won’t get off scot-free.
It is true that the Leafs are among the leaders in hits to begin the 2022-23 season as they currently sit third with 149 behind only the Predators and Capitals. Much of that has to do with new additions like Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Zach Aston-Reese, and some of the mainstays like Rasmus Sandin and Auston Matthews.
It’s a good place to start, but dishing out hits is not the only thing that defines team toughness. A big part is sticking up for your guys when one of them gets hit or standing up for yourself. This is something that the Leafs have struggled with on a consistent basis for years and do not have enough players that instinctively stand up for themselves, support their teammates, and protect the crease to prevent the screen.
It is for this reason that you hear a significant portion of the fanbase complain about how the Leafs do not hav …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Leaflets: Teams with money to burn, the Marlies factor, and the case for keeping Holl

Optimism is a dangerous thing when it comes to the Leafs. I went into the playoffs optimistic, after all, how much a fight would Tampa put up when they’ve played more hockey than anyone else in the past three years? Similarly, I went into this offseason optimistic, sure I was a bit realistic too knowing that great goaltenders wouldn’t be available and Kyle Dubas would be running back the majority of the lineup, but admittedly I expected a noteworthy draft and something resembling an impact skater once free agency opened, and that optimism hasn’t been rewarded. In fact for all the criticism, the goaltending related moves are what stands out as the success story for Kyle Dubas this summer. Of course, I mean the summer so far. Free agency hasn’t even been open for a week, and while I’d expect Kyle Dubas to be on vacation as soon as the Leafs development camp wraps up, there is still some time to wow those of us who want to be wowed. Maybe that’s still optimism. I really need to learn.
The remaining big spenders
When it comes to teams with money to burn in the NHL, there are few of them who still have that money left. Teams like the Coyo …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Why the NHL Free Agent Market is Ripe for Deals

You know when the “buckle up” light comes on in a plane? That’s what this post is. We’re about to hit some turbulence.
Folks, we’re 36 hours away from Free Agency, capital FA. I don’t have time to explain things as well as I should, so you’re getting pure, unadulterated Earl brain. Here’s what I know; when the 2020 MOU was signed, high escrow in the first two seasons incentivized players to take shorter term contracts. The flat cap doubled down on that, as teams didn’t have the cap space to sign players to long term extensions. Well, 2022-23 is the third season of the MOU. Escrow is (relatively) low, those short term contracts are coming due, and the cap has still barely budged, just $1m in 4 seasons.
Teams didn’t stop giving elite players raises. In the past 5 seasons, the average of the top 100 cap hits jumped from 9% to 10% of the upper limit. There is already more players making $7.5m+ than ever before, and there are still some big names on the market. Like, massive names. Gaudreau, Kadri, Giroux, Burakovsky, Malkin, and Klingberg could all join that group. Some …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation