Getting Jack Campbell ready for the playoffs was top ‘priority’ for Maple Leafs’, now he has to deliver

When the NHL trade deadline came and went on Mar. 21, the Toronto Maple Leafs elected not to upgrade what was seemingly a fragile situation in goal.
Their incumbent starter, Jack Campbell, was in the midst of a massive slide in his performance. Petr Mrazek, signed to three-year, $11.4 million contract to be his support system, also struggled.
“I promise I’ll get out of it,” Campbell said after a particularly poor performance against the Vancouver Canucks on Mar. 5. He allowed five goals on 28 shots, but it was the type of goals he was allowing at the time that made you suspect something was wrong.
Later in the month, Campbell suffered a rib injury and he played through it for a few games before the Maple Leafs shut down the goaltender for nearly a month.
The time away appeared to do the goaltender some good. Campbell went a perfect 7-0-0 in April while posting a .915 save percentage, far bette than the sub .900 numbers he had in the previous three months. It was play more reminiscent of the goaltender who was voted to his first NHL All-Star Game this season after a solid first two months of the season.
“Just play …

Read More

Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs 3 stars of the week: Auston Matthews hits 50-goal mark, Mitch Marner makes Maple Leaf history

The week of the trade deadline was a pretty quiet one for the Toronto Maple Leafs with just two games on their schedule, one at home against the Devils, and one on the road against the Canadiens. They liked their game against New Jersey, as well as their game against Montreal, but left Saturday night upset without the two points given how well they played that night. Fast forward to the next week and Toronto has four games on their schedule, with two against some big Atlantic division teams in the Panthers and Bruins, so the Maple Leafs had to be ready for the week that was ahead.
They opened their week on Sunday night at home in a clash against the Florida Panthers for the first time this season, and following a loss to the Canadiens 24 hours prior, some of us were wondering how this team would come out and perform on the second half of a back-to-back against one of the best teams in the league. Wel …

Read More

Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs week ahead: Boston, prospect debuts, Campbell?

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror, the Leafs coming off a disappointing loss to Montreal, and a rejuvenating win against Florida, it’s time to set up the next week for the Leafs. March is coming to a close, and we are finally in the last month of the regular season. It’s been a long way to get to exactly where we thought the Leafs would be. Comfortably in the playoffs, but not the top of the Atlantic. Good, but with plenty of room for improvement.
As we start the week, here are some things to keep an eye on this week.
Nick Abruzzese joins the Leafs
Maple Leafs sign Nick Abruzzese to two-year entry-level contract

As first reported by our own Nick Richard, Nick Abruzzese signed with the Leafs this week to a two year entry level contract. The contract also allows for him to burn through the first year if he plays this season, and it appears he almost immediately will as Toronto has him traveling to Boston (presumably not just to use the MLSE jet to move Abruzzese out of his Harvard dorm room.) Abruzzese has had a big year, being the Ivy League player of the year, and playing for the American Olympic team, now he needs to slot into the Leafs’ lineup, and it will be interesting to see what they do.
Abruzzese is a smart player, who can play at both ends of the ice, but he’s going to need some sheltering. The fact that he’s a center, a definite position of need for the Leafs, could see him get his start in that role centering his own fourth line to start, but the Leafs might also want to see what he can do with some sheltered shifts on Tavares’ wing. Who knows, maybe we’ll see a Harvard line of Blackwell, Kerfoot, and Abruzzese.
Having Abruzzese join the Leafs straight from college isn’t as debatable of a decision as if the Leafs bring Matthew Knies in …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs 3 stars of the week: Petr Mrazek’s bounce back game, Auston Matthews ties career-high in goals

Now that the NHL’s trade deadline has finally come and gone, this is the team the Toronto Maple Leafs will be rolling with for the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs. After what was a pretty eventful week two weeks ago with Toronto playing four games – including the Heritage Classic – the Maple Leafs only had two games on their schedule this past week. One against the New Jersey Devils, and the other one against the Montreal Canadiens.
They opened their week last Wednesday night at home hosting the Devils in the ‘Next Gen’ game where the Maple Leafs were debuting their new jerseys that featured an all-black look with a little blue as well. The ‘Next Gen’ game was originally supposed to be played against the St. Louis Blues back in December, but due to COVID-19, it was postponed and moved to a later date.
Not only were the Maple Leafs debuting new jerseys, but they also had two newly acquired players – Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell – debuting for Toronto as well. Toronto came out of the gates flying and played another solid game as they picked up a very important win over the Devils 3-2, which put them in …

Read More

Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

How can the Leafs activate Jake Muzzin from LTIR?

At his post-trade deadline press conference, Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas mentioned that Rasmus Sandin had been placed on Injured Reserve. Turns out he was actually placed on LTIR, but there was no mention of that on the Leafs social media to my knowledge. That means the earliest he can return is April 14 vs. the Capitals, at which point there will only be 9 regular season games remaining.
Timothy Liljegren and Petr Mrazek were very briefly loaned to the Marlies roster on deadline day, making them eligible to be sent down post-deadline. Mrazek can’t be sent down without another active goalie on the roster, Jack Campbell is skating again though so that won’t be an issue much longer. With those two sent down, the Leafs are just under $1m away from being able to activate Muzzin from LTIR. With Sandin on LTIR, they’re ~$100k away.
I should mention that Jake Muzzin is back to practice as well, and it seems as though the Leafs intend to activate him. Without a way to make up that $100k however, …

Read More

Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Assessing six trade targets that the Leafs did not acquire

The 2022 Trade Deadline is well in the rearview mirror and as the dust settles, we are left with the playoff push that will surely make things interesting the rest of the way.
On deadline day, a total of 33 deals were made with the Leafs only making one minor swap. There are also the two big swaps that saw the Leafs add Mark Giordano and Colin Blackwell, while also acquiring Ilya Lyubushkin a few weeks prior and sending Travis Dermott to the Canucks for a third-rounder. It’s clear that Toronto has made some adjustments to their lineup and appears to have made some improvements in areas of concern despite not acquiring a goalie.
While the Leafs did add three new pieces into the fold, there were numerous others that they were connected to but ended up not acquiring either due to a high asking price from the selling club or shifted interest to other targets. A vast majority of these players did find new homes on trade deadline day while a few remained with their original club. It is these players that will be the focus of today’s piece as we access whether or not the Leafs made the right call in not acquiring said players.
For this one, we will be looking at some of the big names that had confirmed repor …

Read More

Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Potential NCAA free agent targets for the Maple Leafs

With the trade deadline in the rearview mirror and rosters mostly set heading into the stretch drive of the season, NHL front offices have shifted their focus to the college free agent market. In fact, a few names that I had planned to include on the list below have already signed on with NHL clubs after having their NCAA seasons end early.
For many of the biggest names available, there is still the matter of the NCAA tournament and the pursuit of a national title to take care of before they take the next step and begin their pro careers. The Leafs already have a handful of prospects participating in the tournament so be sure to check out Kyle Cushman’s Leafs fan guide to the NCAA Tournament:
Leafs fan guide to the 2022 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament
The Leafs dipped into the NCAA free agent pool last season, signing forward Alex Steeves out of Notre Dame. Steeves has had a solid first year of professional hockey as one of the Marlies’ top scorers and even earned a brief NHL stint earlier this season. He is still just 22 years old so he signed a bit younger than most undrafted college players, and he could eventually be a regular depth contributor for the Leafs.
Outside of Ben Meyers and perhaps one or two other names, NHL clubs will be taking flyers on potential depth options …

Read More

Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Friedman: Four or five teams placed a waiver claim on Harri Sateri

Friedman: Four or five teams placed a waiver claim on Harri Sateri

The dust has settled on the trade deadline and the Leafs’ goaltending situation remains unchanged. Kyle Dubas did try and address it through a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury that fell through and signing Harri Sateri out of the KHL. The recent gold medal winner for Finland had to first clear waivers in order to join the Leafs but was subsequently claimed by the Coyotes.
It no doubt must have been frustrating for Kyle Dubas to lose a player due to the rules regarding signing players from Europe during the season, who mentioned that multiple teams placed a waiver claim on him. On the latest episode of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman confirmed this while Jeff Marek mentioned an interesting tidbit.
EF: I heard there were four or five claims for [Sateri].
JM: How many were just to mess with the Maple Leafs? Cause I don’t know about you, but that afternoon, every time I’d check in with a team and brought that up, the answer was “Well we’re not gonna do it but we hope somebody else does.”
EF: I wonder if Toronto’s smarter play would have been to give him a two-year deal.
JF: Maybe.
Having five teams place a waiver claim on Sateri (whom the other 31 teams could have signed if they wanted to) is already crazy enough, but what Marek mentioned is even more so. This seems to confirm a report that Steve Dangle mentioned on the most recent episode of the Steve Dangle Podcast in which an insider told him teams tend to place a waiver claim on Leafs players as a bit. While it is not certain whether the Sateri claim was indeed part of the scheme, Marek’s quote of some team executives hoping they would be able to snag up the Finnish netminder seems to imply that this could be a real thing …

Read More

Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs still having draft picks means it’s time to care about the CHL Top Prospects Game

The trade deadline is barely in the rearview mirror, and we’re already shifting our focus towards the draft. Well, not entirely, but the CHL Top Prospects Game is certainly a significant event, and considering the Leafs went into the trade deadline with a 1st, 2nd, and 7th round pick heading into the deadline, it’s pretty impressive that they’ve come out of it still holding the 1st and 7th, and only downgrading slightly from the Leafs pick in the 2nd round to the Jets pick in the 3rd round. Presumably, the Leafs can still chase the same caliber of prospect, they just might not get their first choice.
In the past few years, there haven’t been a lot of CHL players coming into the Leafs’ organization. The 2020 draft involved a lot of worry about whether the CHL teams would play at all, and the Leafs avoided picks. Last season, the Leafs held few picks and opted to pick up Ty Voit, their only CHL pick. This year is much more of a business as usual type of season, with the significant exception of prospects playing in Russia. There’s no shortage of uncertainty of what will happen in that regard, an …

Read More

Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs are betting on Colin Blackwell’s blend of skill and tenacity to fortify their lineup

The trade deadline has come and gone and the Leafs’ biggest addition, veteran defender Mark Giordano, has drawn most of the headlines.
Everyone knows what Giordano is all about. The 2018-19 Norris winner is in his 16th NHL season and will immediately solidify a Leafs blue line that has dealt with injuries and inconsistent play all season, but it is the player who was acquired alongside him in Colin Blackwell that could provide the Leafs with significant surplus value down the stretch.
Blackwell certainly wasn’t the flashiest name among the forwards moved at the deadline but he has produced at a respectable rate and brings some attributes to the Leafs’ lineup that they have been short on.
Over the last two seasons with the New York Rangers and Seattle Kraken, the energetic Blackwell has scored at an 82 game pace of 19 goals and 18 assists – solid secondary production, especially for a player who carries a cap hit of just $725k.

Blackwell can shoot it a bit too: pic.twitter.com/ZmqpsnDHAY
— Nick Richard (@_NickRichard) March 20, 2022

The Leafs have struggled at times to find offense beyond their big guns and Blackwell should help in that regard but it is his speed and tenacity that will endear him to the Leafs faithful.
“The thing that has really impressed me over the last number of NHL stints with the Rangers, and more so with Seattle this year, is his tenacity and how hard he plays every single game. That was the thing that jumped out, especially when they moved him on to the penalty kill this year and he showed his value there,” said GM Kyle Dubas when asked about the ac …

Read More

Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation