Nick Ritchie being waived opens up more opportunities for Maple Leafs

17 hours after the Maple Leafs’ 4-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers and Nick Ritchie is placed on waivers.
There was a lot of excitement after the Maple Leafs signed the 26-year-old. Another Toronto-born player coming home, that’s thrilling. Over the 30 games he’s played with the Maple Leafs, Ritchie scored one goal and assisted on seven more.
Eight points over 30 games for someone making $2.5 million over this season and the next — that isn’t good enough.
Toronto has offered Ritchie many opportunities up and down the lineup to prove he belongs, but the 26-year-old has never taken advantage of it.
Now, he’s left at a crossroads.
It’s a difficult decision for Toronto because they’ve been able to go this long without placing any big names on waivers. I think you could argue it was either Ritchie or Pierre Engvall going on the waiver wire.
Engvall, though, has been an integral part of the Maple Leafs fourth line with Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds. At five-on-five, the line has a 67.42 CF% and has only given up five high-danger chances against at all strengths this season.
Ritchie on the other hand, at five-on-five, has an xG% of 48.97, which is the second-worst on the team only behind Ondrej Kase. His GF% at five-on-five, though, is the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Dermott, Mikheyev to play tonight, Seney to make Leafs debut vs. Oilers

The Leafs are taking on the Edmonton Oilers tonight for the first time this season tonight.
After a 5-4 win at home vs. Chicago on Saturday night, the Leafs are battling the best duo in the NHL — Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The two have put together a combined 90 points in their first 26 games of the season. That’s the best duo in the league by a long shot.
However, the Oilers, as a team, haven’t had much success as of late. They’ve lost five games in a row, only scoring three goals at five-on-five in that span. Their woes could continue tonight as they’re missing a key player from their lineup in Zach Hyman, who won’t play his former team for the first time.

Hyman out tonight. Keith a possibility. @TSN_Edge
— Ryan Rishaug (@TSNRyanRishaug) December 14, 2021

The 29-year-old injured his shoulder in a game vs. Carolina earlier this week.
Starting in net for the Oilers tonight will be Mikko Koskinen. In 17 games this season, the 33-year-old has 12 wins and a save percentage of .907.
Leafs projected lineup vs. Edmonton
Toronto had an optional morning skate today, so no line rushes. Here’s how the Leafs’ lines …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

News from the Rink: Campbell to start vs. Oilers, Dermott and Mikheyev might play

The Leafs are in Edmonton practicing today before tomorrow night’s game against the Oilers.
Toronto is coming off a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night. The Leafs had a 4-1 lead in the second period, and the Blackhawks tied it up late in the third.
“It’s the same story that it’s been here,” Sheldon Keefe said after Saturday’s win over Chicago. “It’s just too many chances against, too many freebies, too many guys in behind us. Same issues that were hurting us when we weren’t winning games early in the season.”
Today is a day where they hope to clean up all the mistakes that have cost them.
Lines at practice in Edmonton
Here’s how the Leafs’ lines shaped up before tomorrow night’s matchup in Edmonton.

#Leafs in practice:Bunting-Matthews-KaseKerfoot-Tavares-NylanderEngvall-Kampf-MikheyevClifford-Steeves/Seney-Simmonds
Rielly-BrodieMuzzin-LiljegrenDermott-Holl
CampbellMrazek
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) December 13, 2021

Yesterday the Leafs sent Kristians Rubins back to the Marlies and recalled Carl Dahlstrom and Brett Seney. The reasoning behind the Seney recall looks to be because Nick Ritchie is sick. He was absent from Monday’s practice, and Keefe says he’s not currently with the team.

Keefe says Ritchie is …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

More like Zach Byeman, as Hyman is heading to Edmonton

More like Zach Byeman, as Hyman is heading to Edmonton

As a Leafs fan based in Edmonton, I’m excited about my potential new neighbour. Maybe Zach and I can go for donairs or check out an Elks game. Who knows.
Anyway, if you haven’t guessed by now, Hyman is almost certainly Edmonton bound, and likely to spend the next few years reaping the benefits of being Connor McDavid’s LW.

Further to Friedge’s report: Word is that an eight-year contract for Hyman with the #oilers would come in a shade under the $5.125M AAV on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ recent deal.
A seven-year contract for Hyman would be closer to $5.5M AAV. https://t.co/LozsslxyOF
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 22, 2021

So that’s looking pretty absolute and while that could play out next week, there’s also a chance that it could play out today if the Oilers are willing to make a deal with the Leafs to activate the 8 year option rather than paying the higher cap hit for the shorter term.
There is definite value in bringing down the cap hit by $375k a year, and there’s a definite benefit in not giving someone another week to rethink moving to Edmonton.

A lot of talk about what …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Thanks Ken Holland, the Leafs can now afford to re-sign Zach Hyman

Last week, the Edmonton Oilers locked up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to a contract extension worth $5.125 million per year over a max-term of eight years with a full no-movement clause. Most members of the Edmonton media and the team’s loyal fanbase see the deal as a win-win. A former 1st-overall draft pick and core member of their team commits the twilight years of his prime to the team that drafted him at a noteworthy discount that will give GM Ken Holland some flexibility to navigate the flat salary cap and attempt to make the Oilers an overall better team.
So the one question that remains is, as always, how does this affect the Leafs?
Well, it’s quite simple, thanks to this contract signing, Ken Holland and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have set the market and in doing so, effectively killed the (mainstream media perpetuated) narrative that Zach Hyman is going to get contract offers in the range of $6 million a year for six years.
Let’s be real here, as much as we all love Zach Hyman and want to see him be rewarded for several years of stellar play (for a player of his skill level), he’s no Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

TLN Three Stars: First Line Magic

Coming off a tough OT loss to the Edmonton Oilers, and battling for the top spot of the Scotia North Division, the Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to get back in action as the puck dropped against the Winnipeg Jets for tonight’s game. The Leafs came in hot and heavy as they ended the first period with lots of good chances, outshooting the Jets 14-6, and a 2-0 lead with goals by Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman. The second period was a lot more even as the Jets started to get some scoring chances, but not much to show for it. Alexander Kerfoot managed to get a shorthanded goal as Josh Morrissey lost a puck battle, but answered right back as Morrissey got one past Jack Campbell less than a minute later. The period ended as the Jets were outshooting the Leafs 22-21, but the Leafs held on with a 3-1 lead. As the puck dropped for the third, you could tell that both teams wanted to keep the energy going. The Leafs had a few SOG, but weren’t able to get anything else past Connor Hellebuyck, or capitalize on yet another powerplay. The period ended as Paul …

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Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation

Do the Maple Leafs need to trade for a top-six winger?

In a game against the Edmonton Oilers, where the Maple Leafs lost in overtime, I had one thought on my mind:
Do the Maple Leafs need to trade for a top-six winger?
I explain in my video why I think they should, but why I also think Toronto shouldn’t. Plus, there is the goalie situation too — and does Kyle Dubas need to go down that road? We’ll see.
But an overtime loss to the Oilers isn’t as bad as it seems. The Maple Leafs drove the play for the most part (up until the final minutes of the third period) and were the better team tonight. Edmonton just scored on the goaltender who wasn’t as dangerous as the one he was up against (Michael Hutchinson vs. Mike Smith).
I hope you enjoy tonight’s video and why I think the Maple Leafs should/shouldn’t trade for a top-six player.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Leafs look to extend win streak to three against suddenly surging Oilers

When the Toronto Maple Leafs left Edmonton on March 3rd following their dominant three game sweep of the Oilers, the mood around the team was perhaps the highest it had been in years. During said sweep, the Leafs outscored the Oilers 13-1, earning shutouts from Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson while also holding Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to a combined one point (the fact that Auston Matthews only appeared in one of the three games is a bit of an afterthought.) The sweep saw the Leafs increase their lead of the North Division to nine points over the second place Winnipeg Jets, and ten points over the throughly humiliated third place Oilers.
The Leafs, as they are prone to do, promptly reminded us that they are in fact the Toronto Maple Leafs, and proceeded to drop six of the nine and allowed the Oilers to close that gap to a mere two points heading into tonight’s matchup.
The Oilers, meanwhile, had a solid bounce back from their dismal set with the Leafs, winning seven of their nine games since the three game sweep, including a five game winning streak in the games immediately following the series. Should the …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs hope to carry road trip momentum into two-game series against the Canucks

After a three-game sweep of the Edmonton Oilers where the Leafs outscored their opponents by a combined score of 13-1 while featuring three different goalies in net, the team is hoping this miracle run will carry on as they continue the west coast road trip in Vancouver.
It’s been a tale of two very different seasons for the Canadian franchises. The Maple Leafs currently sit atop the NHL standings while the Canucks are near the bottom and have played so poorly that they at one point made Montreal look dominant.
Although the Leafs are playing on the second night of a back-to-back, they’re sure to be fired up entering the contest on a dominant four-game winning streak. With key players such as Auston Matthews, Frederik Andersen, and Joe Thornton making their way back into the lineup, the team that was finding ways to win without them seems to only be getting stronger.
As NHL fans continue to dismiss the Leafs success by claiming the North Division is weak, the boys in blue will be looking to prove that the division only appears to be weak because Toronto is just that dominant. With just over half a season left …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs are the best team in the NHL – Rate That Leafs Game

So, here we are. Three games after arriving in Edmonton and the Maple Leafs one all of them. Without Auston Matthews, Toronto’s depth and other top players had success which put them over the top in each game. Defence was also a key factor as they held Connor McDavid pointless in three games and Leon Draisaitl to one point.
A solid road trip which they hope to finish off after the play the Vancouver Canucks in two-straight games. To me, it’s weird to see the Leafs atop of the North Division and the NHL, but at the same time, it’s so exciting.
I hope you enjoy this video, where I freakout for most of it.

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation