Leafs entering camp with something to prove

Toronto Maple Leafs hockey is back.
Kyle Dubas, Sheldon Keefe, and select players from the team spoke with the media today. Among the things said, players gave their thoughts on the season ahead and the belief they have in each other as a group. Players also said they’re taking this season one day at a time instead of gazing too far into the future.
The first person to address the media was Dubas. Most of what he discussed was the disappointment from last season. The Leafs GM said that while players should look back on the loss, it may also be an opportunity to move forward.

Kyle Dubas says adversity is what brings out of the best in Sheldon Keefe. Leafs gonna need that trait to be transferable.
— Justin Cuthbert (@jccuthbert) September 22, 2021

We all remember last season. This Leafs team was one that we thought could have a lot of success. Although in the end, it didn’t happen, these moments are some that define the future. Teams need adversity to be better, and with the results in the past, this should help them grow to become stronger.
Dubas even addressed his future with the organization and whether he …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Mikheyev wants out and for some reason the Leafs aren’t on board

Kyle Dubas believes in this group, even the players that don’t have any interest in being part of the group anymore.
Earlier this evening Elliotte Friedman came out of hibernation and gave us a few insider tidbits, including this nugget about Ilya Mikheyev:
According to several sources, Toronto winger Ilya Mikheyev asked for a trade following the 2020-21 season. But, what is important to the story is that the Maple Leafs made it clear they do not want to accommodate this request. With Zach Hyman and Joe Thornton gone from the left wing, the organization told Mikheyev it considers him a key part of their team and are counting on him to have a big year.
This issue from Mikheyev’s point of view is ice time, and that’s kind of a bizarre stance to take when he struggled to produce offensively last season. His opportunities to produce were somewhat limited as he was tethered players like Alexander Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall, who like himself aren’t likely to generate offence without a proper catalyst. And while Friedman cites Hyman (who should have always been ahead of Mikheyev in the lineup), and Thornton (who Mikheyev should rightly be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Betting on Kerfoot is likely the best option for the Leafs

When Kyle Dubas said he believes in the Leafs roster, we should probably take him at his word. The fact that Kyle Dubas traded for Jared McCann in hopes that he’d either be the replacement for Kerfoot or (what actually happened) that he’d be the bait in order to keep Alexander Kerfoot probably proves that he wants to give it another go with this group.
As someone who has spent the better part of the last two years trying to trade Alex Kerfoot, I’ve now moved past denial and reached acceptance that Kerfoot will be a Leaf next season. It’s September. The Leafs are essentially capped out, and unless one of the GM’s around the league is a secret admirer of Kerfoot, there’s no reason to believe that Alex is going to be on the move. There would have been several points over the past couple of months where a deal would have made sense, but at this point unless Toronto has been sitting on a true hockey trade all summer, it seems that he’ll play.
The first couple of paragraphs so far probably have the tone of Kerfoot being a bad player, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Ondřej was the Kaše that they gave us: Leafs sign him to 1 year deal

It seems that this summer Kyle Dubas has decided that if he’s gonna be damned, he’s gonna be damned for doing things the way he wants to do things. He’s gone with Greyhounds. He’s gone with underappreciated or miscast players, and now he’s moved onto statistical darlings…

Ondrej Kase signs a one-year contract with #leafs worth $1.25M.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 31, 2021

Ondrej Kase, long adored for excelling at driving the play forward, Kaše has had his injury troubles throughout his career, and was limited to just three games last season, and hasn’t really played anywhere near a full season in his career. The right wing from the Czech Republic is 6’0 tall, and 190 lbs, and could line up with countryman David Kampf on the Leafs 3rd line this season, when healthy. When Kaše isn’t healthy, he creates an opportunity for players like Brooks, Robertson, and Anderson to dip their toes into the lineup as well, so he’s a reasonable risk to take, especially since he’s only 25.

As you can see from the chart above, Kase is pretty darn good in all situations, and if William Nylander is going to be …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The great goalie shuffle of 2021 and the possible Leafs targets

Kyle Dubas has identified finding a goaltender as his top need in the offseason. That need has then been re-identified by everyone who covers the Leafs. Who am I to say it’s wrong? (It’s kinda wrong, but also kinda right.)
Of course the Leafs won’t be alone in their search for goaltending, with Frank Seravalli estimating that at least a quarter of the league is looking to seriously address the position. This is somewhat of a farce given that most of the goaltenders available are players in the same situation as Leafs fans view Frederik Andersen to be in. The goaltender isn’t cutting it and it’s time to move on from them. The Braden Holtby, Martin Jones, and Mikko Koskinen options are basically taking another teams rotten goaltender via trade. A borderline buyout candidate who wouldn’t deliver much in net. With a 50% salary retention, these might represent the opportunity for the Leafs to add a goaltender with a cheaper cap hit, possible pick up an asset or unload some salary, and then cross our fingers that their previous bad situation can be corrected by the Leafs, a team that definitely has a track record …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Hyman, the core, and other musings from Kyle Dubas’ post expansion draft press conference

Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs hosted a press conference this afternoon following yesterday’s expansion draft. While Kyle remained his usual vague and calculated self, keeping his cards fairly close to his chest, there were a handful of nuggets he laid out that are interesting to note.

Dubas says he was “content” with giving up prospect Filip Hallander and seventh-round pick to Pittsburgh. That was his strategy for expansion draft.
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) July 22, 2021

Kyle Dubas on protecting Justin Holl:
“We know what he’s capable of, we know who he is as a person, we have a strong belief in him. He’s signed for two more years. If he’s gone…can we replace what he brings at that cap hit?”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) July 22, 2021

On the McCann trade and his ultimate poaching by the Seattle Kraken, Dubas explained that his strategy all along was to use McCann as bait to keep the Kraken away from Justin Holl. There has been all kinds of discourse on whether or not this was the right move, but in the end, it sounds like Maple Leafs management preferred the certainty of holding onto a top-4 defenseman at a reasonable dollar figure …

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Author: Jori Negin-Shecter / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs acquire Jared McCann ahead of expansion draft roster freeze

Kyle Dubas managed to complete a deal before the NHL’s expansion draft trade/waiver freeze took effect, acquiring center Jared McCann in exchange for Filip Hållander and a seventh round draft pick. McCann is under contract for one more season with a cap hit of $2.94 million and he will be a restricted free agent next offseason.

The #leafs send prospect Filip Hallander back to the #pens — he was acquired in the Kasperi Kapanen trade last fall. https://t.co/dhMOH0i8Vg
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 17, 2021

McCann, 25, is a former first round pick of the Vancouver Canucks who put up 14 goals and 18 assists in 43 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2020-21. The Stratford, Ontario native also spent three seasons with the Soo Greyhounds so he is something of a known commodity for Dubas and the Leafs’ front office.
It was no secret that the Leafs had to improve their forward depth and McCann will provide versatility while driving play and adding some secondary scoring. He has the ability to play both wing and center, and can play a solid two-way game up and down the Leafs’ lineup.

Jared McCann, acquired by TOR, is a very good two-way middle …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

DFO Rundown: The Red Wings are seeking players vulnerable to the Expansion Draft, such as Travis Dermott

By this point, everybody is aware of Kyle Dubas’ conundrum with the upcoming Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

He can use the normal 7-3-1 protection scheme and expose both Justin Holl and Travis Dermott, or he could use the eight-skater scheme and prospect one of those two defenders, but at the cost of leaving Alex Kerfoot exposed.
We don’t yet know what Dubas is going to do but we can safely assume that general managers around the league will be calling about these players before they get exposed to Seattle.
One of those general managers appears to be Steve Yzerman. Kevin Allen, a beat writer for Detroit Hockey Now, appeared on the DFO Rundown on Monday and spoke about the Red Wings’ off-season plans. The Red Wings have a wealth of cap room and a whole bunch of draft picks to work with this summer and, as Allen says, Steve Yzerman is in a prime position to pick up a player who is vulnerable to being selected in by Seattle…
I think [Yzerman] is looking at trade, but he’s looking younger. I know you’re going to say Jack Eichel is in the rebuild age bracket, but Eichel …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

Why this was the Leafs best trade deadline in a long, long time

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas made a few moves in the last 24 hours. They acquired Nick Foligno, David Rittich, and today, Ben Hutton. All in all — a solid trade deadline.
But why was this one of their best deadlines in the past? In my latest video, I try to explain that, plus, my thoughts on the Leafs trade deadline as a whole. I hope you enjoy it!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs likely aren’t done making moves ahead of the trade deadline

Kyle Dubas was busy on Sunday, making a pair of significant additions to the Leafs’ roster with the clock ticking down towards the trade deadline.
The biggest acquisition was that of Nick Foligno from Columbus in a three-team deal that saw the Leafs ship out their 2021 first and fourth-round picks to the Blue Jackets, and their 2022 fourth-round pick to the San Jose Sharks. Columbus retained 50% of Foligno’s remaining salary and the Sharks retained an additional 25% while also sending depth forward Stefan Noesen back to the Leafs.
Foligno checks a lot of boxes in terms of what the Leafs were looking to add. He can slide up and down the lineup while having the versatility to play wing or center if needed, he plays with an edge, is a strong defensive presence, and brings a bit more of that good old fashioned veteran leadership.
It wasn’t exactly a bargain but adding a player like Foligno to this lineup for a fraction of his salary, in exchange for what should be a late first-round draft pick, is a solid move.
Dubas wasn’t done there, however, as it was announced shortly before midnight that the Leafs had also acquired goaltender …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation