Potential under the radar Leafs goaltending targets

Hockey has changed. Gone are the days where a single goaltender can play 60 or more regular season games and then go on a long playoff run. The game is faster now and there is enough evidence in recent cup winners over the past decade to show that teams benefit much more from having a solid goaltending tandem as opposed to a single elite starter and a backup who only plays the second half of back-to-backs.
This tandem split can be most recently seen with the 2019 St. Louis Blues, 2018 Washington Capitals, and 2017 Pittsburgh Penguins. Of those three teams, the most games played by a single goaltender was Braden Holtby’s 54 games with the Capitals.
It’s easy to believe that a more or less even split was the plan going into last season for the Leafs, but between injury troubles and Petr Mrazek having the worst season of his career, that plan was derailed and abandoned fast. Whether Jack Campbell is re-signed or not, the Leafs’ goaltenders need to be better overall, and with the team’s current cap situation (and the risk of bringing in a new face at a high cap number,) going after a brand-name goaltender might not be in the cards for next season.
There are, however, a number of goalies around the league who have put up excellent numbers in a backup or tandem role and have sort of flown under the radar for a while now. Any one of them could be an excellent …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Opinion: The NHLPA needs to get it right when they replace Donald Fehr

In the days leading up to May Day, one of the most important days in organized labour, the NHLPA decided to make a change at the top:
From Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff:
For the first time in the 55-year history of the NHL Players’ Association, it appears a peaceful transition of power will be in order for hockey’s player union.
The NHLPA announced on Friday night that the union’s executive board voted this week to appoint a search committee to begin finding a successor to executive director Don Fehr.
To say the NHLPA is a mess is a bit of an understatement. The past few years have seen a frozen salary cap, few developments to benefit player safety, two missed Olympics, and numerous ignored cases of sexual and racial abuse. Little was done to benefit struggling alumni and their families. In fact, it’s hard to see what if anything was gained by the NHLPA. Donald Fehr was just quicker to compromise with ownership to keep the lights on and I guess with short careers, missing as few games as possible to a lockout seems like the right decision at the time.
I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say that Donald Fehr’s time as the Executive Director of the NHLPA was simply about achieving the best possible deal when it comes to escrow payments. The players hate escrow. Rightfully so, but the fight for escrow cost the players in so many other areas, and honestly for the little return players receive from the owners in their collective agreement, for over half the league it probably would have been more beneficial to disband the NHLPA and negotiate directly with the teams without the restrictions imposed on them in their binding contract.
When it gets to the point where the union is hurting its members it’s time for a change, and to be fair to Donald Fehr, the NHLPA seemed to be there before his arrival and him being bad at achieving meaningful results might still be regarded as an upgrade over some of the hucksters who have occupied his office previously.
The problem with the change is it seems to be an exercise in maintaining the status quo, not improving. The search committee is going to be made up largely of players, and that is important as it is their interests at stake here. It just might be asking a lot of players to know the finer points of …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The top ten Leafs players Instagram accounts, and the absolute worst one

This is going to be fun.
As we slow down to the dog days of the regular season, content becomes scarce. So, for today, we’re going to look through ten Maple Leafs players Instagram accounts and see who’s got the best-looking IG feed.
I will judge each account by aesthetic look, meaning that their Instagram feed has to look sharp for them to place lower in the standings. Whether it’s family photos, hockey photos, landscape, friends, or animal photos, all of it will be seriously judged.
If it ain’t looking good, then you will be crowned as the “absolute worst one”, courtesy of our Managing Editor, Jon Steitzer.
So, without further ado, let’s get started!
Disclaimer: This is all in good fun and I’m not taking any real jabs at any of the players. Think of it as satire.
10. Ilya Mikheyev

Mikheyev’s Instagram feed is top notch when you look at the dog in his second-most recent photo. His ad game is also quite strong with the Campbell’s Soup ad further below.
I think he would be much lower on the list if he had smiled in his third picture with his dog and wife. It was on Valentine’s Day, Ilya, you gotta smile.
Other than that, though, a very good feed and one that made me smile (because of his dog).
9. Pierre Engvall

Engvall’s Instagram feed offers a variety of pictures, including one of him cooking further down.
The Swede’s mixture of hockey, friends and family, style, and muscle photos makes for a pretty good feed. If he had a dog, it would make for a much nicer account.
His Calder Cup photo with Carl Grundstrum and Dmytro Timashov puts his feed over the top and allows him to make the top-10.
8. Jack Campbell

I would like to apologize to everyone for placing Campbell outside of the top-five. TLN’s Managing Editor Jon Steitzer actually thought this was the best feed all because of the birthday cat photo.
If I was more of a cat person than dog person, I would’ve liked it too.
His family photo at the All-Star Game in Las Vegas is a nice touch. I believe the downfall to his feed is him shaking a man’s hand in the middle of the second row. It’s a car ad, but I wou …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs meet the challenge of physical Bruins but lose three players to injury

BOSTON – It had been 889 days since the Toronto Maple Leafs last visited TD Garden, but it was as tough a place to play as they remembered.
Even though the Boston Bruins didn’t hurt them in the standings, their physicality took its toll on the Leafs.
The Maple Leafs defeated the Bruins 6-4 on Tuesday and while they managed to hang on for an important win in a heated race atop the Atlantic Division, they lost three players to injury.
Petr Mrazek suffered his third groin injury of the season early in the period. It’s unclear the exact moment the goaltender was hurt, but after what appeared to be a routine save, he motioned to the bench and began to stretch his legs. When the faceoff came back to his own end on the next play, he was unable to continue and immediately left to the dressing room.
“We don’t know the severity of it and we’ll get a greater sense of what the situation is in the coming days,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs collaborate with Justin Bieber on Next Gen jersey

After many days of waiting for this Next Gen jersey, which was leaked by Martha Stewart and Justin Bieber, it’s finally here.
Thank god.

We’ll be rocking the black and blue, hby?
The Leafs x @drewhouse flipside jersey is here. pic.twitter.com/UqvnQdpPny
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 22, 2022

The Maple Leafs have collaborated with Justin Bieber’s clothing company, ‘drew house’, to make this Next Gen jersey. On one side, it’s Toronto’s jersey with a new shade of blue and an interesting texture on the Maple Leaf and arm bands. On the “flipside”, which is what the team is calling it, is a smiley face inside a Leaf.
A smiley face is the main logo for Drew.

The Maple Leafs will be wearing this jersey on Wednesday night for the Next Generation game where they’ll take on the New Jersey Devils.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs content to keep the status quo with their goaltending as NHL Trade Deadline passes

It was perhaps one of the quietest deadline days on record for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as the club didn’t add anyone to their roster by on Monday.
Most of the heavy lifting was completed a day earlier.
After pulling off a trade that saw 2019 Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell become the newest members of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Mar. 20, the next day was about the parting of assets.
The first move on Monday saw the Leafs trade defenceman Alex Biega to the Nashville Predators for future considerations. Then they waited until 2 p.m. ET to see which of the players placed on waivers on Sunday would stick.
For roster flexibility, Toronto placed goaltender Petr Mrazek and forward Kyle Clifford on waivers Sunday. They were also forced to put newly-signed Finnish goaltender Harri Sateri on waivers, a rule in the NHL collective bargaining agreement that is enforced when trying to acquire players from European clubs.
Mrazek, and his $3.8 million salary-cap hit cleared waivers, as well as Clifford.
“Obviously it was done for salary-cap reasons just to give us the gr …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Seravalli: Maple Leafs are the preferred destination of Mark Giordano

A few days I wrote about how it seems that Mark Giordano seems to be destined to come to Toronto. There hasn’t been any shortage of rumours connecting the team and the player, and it seems like a possible source of that connection could be coming directly from the player himself.

The Daily Faceoff Show – Mar 17 Feat. Frank Seravalli & Mike McKenna https://t.co/dRlI4N4L0P
— Daily Faceoff (@DailyFaceoff) March 17, 2022

On his show, Frank goes into how Toronto is Giordano’s personal preferred landing spot, and while the Kraken will still trade Giordano to the team that provides them with the best offer, there is an “all things being equal” attitude about trying to facilitate the move to Giordano’s preference, if possible.
So that gets us back around to a couple of things. Knowing that the Leafs’ priority seems to be on defense, how high is Giordano on their list? Seemingly there is a deal almost ready to be had with Seattle if they wanted it, but is it a matter of Toronto still looking for a player with term, or a right shot, or is Giordano a possible Plan B to Lindholm?
There’s also a matter of what price the Kraken are hoping to get. Now that Chiarot has landed a 1st+, the 2nd and a prospect offer might not cut it. At least until the Kraken can confirm that no one is offering up a first.
We’ve touched on the benefits of bringing in Giordano previously. In addition to being good at his job, he’s a leader, a playoff performer, and has established chemistry with TJ Brodie. There is also the possibility that this could be an interesting opportunity to see if Giordano can be a fit with the Leafs beyond this season. If …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Rumour Update: Friedman reporting Leafs interest in Lindholm, Motte, and…Chara?

We’re fewer than five days away from the trade deadline, and tonight is probably the last written 32 Thoughts from Elliotte Friedman before all hell breaks loose. Thankfully Elliotte doesn’t disappoint and gives us a number of Leafs’ thoughts to further reflect on.
4. Toronto GM Kyle Dubas continues to indicate he does not want to trade his top prospects for a rental. And, he does not want to move the team’s first-round draft choice for the third time in four years. We’ll see how the Chiarot deal adjusts the market. I believe Lindholm is the Maple Leafs’ top target, although they’ve also taken long looks at Giordano, Philadelphia’s Justin Braun, Dallas’s John Klingberg and San Jose’s Jacob Middleton. Travis Dermott and Justin Holl have been on the market for months, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Dermott is given a fresh start, regardless of what else happens in the next few days.
So there are a lot of takeaways in this thought. It’s nice to have the reassurances that Kyle Dubas isn’t ready to sacrifice the future for the present if he doesn’t have to. The catch to that way of thinking is that probably erases Hampus Lindholm from the list of possibilities. At least in theory.
That theory is immediately thrown out by Lindholm being listed as a top target for the Leafs. Of the players listed, Lindholm is having the worst statist …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs still looking at adding multiple pieces ahead of the trade deadline

With five days remaining until trade deadline day, rumours are swirling like crazy around the Maple Leafs. They might just be coming down as fast as the snow was in Toronto this winter.
On Tuesday evening during TSN’s Insider Trading, there were a number of topics discussed regarding the Maple Leafs. The first was that Toronto has checked in with the San Jose Sharks regarding defenceman Jacob Middleton.
Pierre LeBrun on TSN’s Insider Trading:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the Eastern Conference teams that I’m told have checked in on Jacob Middleton. I think the Leafs have some interest. All kinds of reasons why his physicality on the left-side would be of use to Toronto.”
Middleton has played the fourth-most minutes on San Jose’s blue line this season, skating on the top pair with Brent Burns. The 26-year-old has the second-best GF% at five-on-five this season (50.98), only behind Erik Karlsson who has a GF% of 51.92. Middleton’s CF% at five-on-five, though, is a 46.70, which would place him behind every defenceman the Maple Leafs have iced this season.
Middleton has only played 55 NHL …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs have one week until the trade deadline to figure their s*!% out: A deadline primer

Seven short days for the Leafs to find a NHL caliber starting goaltender.
Seven days to find a physically imposing top four defenseman that preferably shoots right.
Seven days to also work some cap magic and bring in Claude Giroux or Tomas Hertl or JT Miller somehow.
I’m gonna say, some of you are expecting all three of these and are going to be disappointed. In fact when Kyle Dubas has already stated he “doesn’t have a whole lot of bullets in the chamber,” the Leafs might be hooped. One of the first things they might want to start walking back is when Jake Muzzin will be available. Muzzin’s LTIR space certainly creates a bit more flexibility for Toronto to attempt more. It also gives the Leafs the luxury of having a quality defenseman that they will be slotting into their playoff roster at some point when the salary cap is no longer a thing.
Dubas may also want to walk back his statement about goaltending from last week, “I’m not concerned about either one of them,” which I don’t doubt he’ll continue to say is true when asked publicly, but if he’s not at least testing the waters of trades for goaltenders behind the scenes, it’s safe to say that most Leafs fans would be shocked. While wanting to believe that a healthy Jack Campbell could possibly go on a run again is one thing, it’s hard not to view Petr Mrazek as anything other than disaster at this point, even if bringing him in was a move that not many people disagreed with.
“For bet …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation