Leafs fan guide to the 2022 NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament

We’re one day away from the start of one of the most exciting tournaments on the hockey schedule, the NCAA Men’s Hockey Tournament.
For Toronto Maple Leafs fans, this means an opportunity to see multiple high profile prospects compete for the national championship over the next week and a half. Toronto has six prospects playing for four different teams at this year’s tournament, creating intrigue for Leafs fans on top of what is already set to be a phenomenal tournament.
Minnesota – F Matt Knies, D Mikey Koster
Leading the way for Toronto is Matt Knies, their 2021 second-round pick. Although he is a freshman, Knies has burst onto the scene with the University of Minnesota, immediately becoming one of the most dangerous forwards in the Big Ten conference upon his arrival back in the fall.
In fact, Knies’ performance has been so remarkable this year that despite being less than a year removed from being a second-round draft pick, he earned his way onto Team USA at the Olympics and has been rumoured to potentially be signing with the Leafs upon the completion of his collegiate season.
Knies brings a unique blend of skills to the table. His combination of size (listed at 6-foot-3) and tenacity on the forecheck with an ability to get the puck …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

3 Canadians for Toronto Raptors fans to watch in March Madness

3 Canadians for Toronto Raptors fans to watch in March Madness

As we prepare ourselves for one of the most exciting times in basketball, Toronto Raptors fans have to keep track of the brightest stars from our side of the northern border. NBA Draft Classes in, and this year is no exception. The Raptors still have a second-round pick that could be used to bring in […]
3 Canadians for Toronto Raptors fans to watch in March Madness – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Avishai Sol / Raptors HQ

Raptors’ struggles should serve as a wake-up call for Masai Ujiri

Raptors’ struggles should serve as a wake-up call for Masai Ujiri

The Toronto Raptors went from one of the most exciting teams in the league and a potential No. 6 seed candidate to a squad that is struggling to beat some of the worst teams in the league. Masai Ujiri traded a first-round pick to push towards the playoffs, but he hasn’t seen the team take […]
Raptors’ struggles should serve as a wake-up call for Masai Ujiri – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Mike Luciano / Raptors HQ

Pontus Holmberg is the fifth Maple Leafs prospect to be named to the Olympics

Another exciting day for the Leafs and the Olympics, as the Swedish Men’s hockey roster was announced and the promising Leafs prospect is a part of it.

After the results at the last #IIHFWorlds and in #PyeongChang2018, @Trekronorse hopes to bounce back in #Beijing2022 with a roster of players shining in the @SHLse, @KHL and @NLSLOfficial. Can they get back to the podium?
Read more https://t.co/XafmaOOs6A@SWEOlympic pic.twitter.com/krF1Ko6jcB
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 21, 2022

(Yes that is former Leafs prospect Daniel Brodin also on that list.)
The Swedish announcement comes a day after the Finnish roster was announced and included former Leafs Leo Komarov, Miro Aaltonen, Mikko Lehtonen, and former Leafs reserve lister Teemu Hartikainen, but disappointingly not high scoring Leafs prospect Topi Niemela. While both Finland and Sweden seemed to go more of the veteran route with their lineups, Holmberg’s play over the past year including his MVP playoff performance and his 28 point in 33 games this year in the SHL warranted the 22 year old making the cut.
Previously a couple of other Leafs “prospects” or reserve listers made the cut for the Swiss team…

With some solid depth and 11 returnees, does this @SwissIceHockey #Beijing2022 team have what it takes to capture a medal?
READ MORE: https://t.co/3dLME2RGQR#hockey #icehockey #eishockey #hockeysurglace #hockeysughiaccio #Olympics @swissteam pic.twitter.com/OryydCZTkH
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) January 18, 2022

Both Fabrice Herzog and Denis Malgin made the cut, and while neither my never see a Leafs jersey again in their careers, they are technically on the Leafs reserve list, so we’re going to count it.
Of course rounding out the Leafs representation so far are Knies and Abruzzese on the American roster:
Nick Abruzzese and Matthew Knies officially named to US Men’s Olympic roster

While Canada might be dressing a former Leaf or two, neither Canada or Czechia will have a current Leaf in their lineup. So it looks like unless an injury brings Niemela into the mix for Finland, this will be the Leafs representation in Beijing. …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Three Stars: They all deserve stars, what’s not to love about this team?

After an exciting 4-1 win against the San Jose Sharks on Friday night and a very rare Saturday night off, the Toronto Maple Leafs made their way to the Honda Center as they looked to take to take on the Anaheim Ducks to close off their road trip. As the puck dropped for the first, both teams had a lot of good chances and the energy was high on both ends of the ice. Auston Matthews opened up scoring in the second period, followed by another from Michael Bunting just a few minutes later. As the puck dropped for the third, Alexander Kerfoot wasted absolutely no time and added another to the tally, making it 3-0 just 17 seconds into the period. The Ducks eventually got one on the board as Hampus Lindholm got the puck past Jack Campbell later on in the third period. William Nylander was able to add an empty-netter, and they weren’t done there as Wayne Simmonds scored another less than 20 seconds later making it 5-1, and the Leafs ended the night and their road trip with a big win.
3rd Star: Michael Bunting
With a beautiful goal (and an assist!) in the second period, Bunting …

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Author: Roxanne Khasow / The Leafs Nation

Dion Phaneuf deserves respect for his time as a Leaf

January 31, 2010, was one of the most exciting moments of the early 2010s for Maple Leafs fans. On the heels of a six-game losing streak and with the 29th-place Leafs in jeopardy of relinquishing a lottery pick to Boston from the Phil Kessel trade, Brian Burke pulled off two blockbuster moves in a single day that generated a lot of hope in Leafs Nation.
The Leafs, who were last place in goals-against-per-game at the time of the trade, needed defence and goaltending, badly. Burke first acquired the goaltender who delivered him a Stanley Cup in Anaheim three seasons prior, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, in exchange for two John Ferguson Jr. oopsies: Jason Blake and Vesa Toskala.
Burke then followed it up with an even bigger deal. Darren Dreger with the call:

phaneuf to the Leafs
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 31, 2010

The Internet was set afire with gossip about who could be going back the other way. Kessel and a first? Kaberle and Kadri? Getzlaf in a three-way deal? I truly encourage you to read through at least the first 15 pages of this Calgary Flames message boards thread, which catalogues the initial moments of panic in the aftermath of Dreger’s tweet, the (horribly wrong) …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Whether it’s to showcase or to embrace depth, the rumours around Leafs defense being available aren’t going away

It was exciting times in Leafs land as the insiders swarmed around the idea that the Leafs were making one of Travis Dermott or Justin Holl available for trade, that seemed to quickly dry up and the Leafs are left with the reality of balancing seven healthy defensemen in their lineup.
While trades are fun, another thing that is fun is always making sure you have capable players on your blueline, and that seems to be the reality of the Leafs right now. While there are rightfully concerns about the play of Justin Holl, and the idea of having Travis Dermott on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly might not have sat right with everyone, the Leafs are probably better off sticking with the full complement of defenders for now, especially if a trade followed by an injury could result in a reliance on someone like Carl Dahlstrom, who hasn’t really inspired much confidence at the NHL level.
A big part of the issue with the trade seems to be the lack of willing partners for the Leafs. Understandably there are a lot of question marks with acquiring a defenseman that is being shopped, especially from the Leafs. If …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Whether it’s to showcase or to embrace depth, the rumours around Leafs defense being available are going away

It was exciting times in Leafs land as the insiders swarmed around the idea that the Leafs were making one of Travis Dermott or Justin Holl available for trade, that seemed to quickly dry up and the Leafs are left with the reality of balancing seven healthy defensemen in their lineup.
While trades are fun, another thing that is fun is always making sure you have capable players on your blueline, and that seems to be the reality of the Leafs right now. While there are rightfully concerns about the play of Justin Holl, and the idea of having Travis Dermott on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly might not have sat right with everyone, the Leafs are probably better off sticking with the full complement of defenders for now, especially if a trade followed by an injury could result in a reliance on someone like Carl Dahlstrom, who hasn’t really inspired much confidence at the NHL level.
A big part of the issue with the trade seems to be the lack of willing partners for the Leafs. Understandably there are a lot of question marks with acquiring a defenseman that is being shopped, especially from the Leafs. If …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The NHL and NHLPA agree on Olympic participation. Which Leafs will be going?

Oh boy, the Olympics. Growing up these seemed like an exciting time when we as a nation would come together and drive to Petro Canada to pick up commemorative glassware. Now the Olympics seem more like an acknowledgement that athletes really like the games and we should politely encourage them while accepting a healthy dose of IOC corruption in the process.
I mean, “GO CANADA!”

NHL and NHLPA announce agreement with IIHF on player participation at the 2022 Winter Olympics: https://t.co/Yv5SkZIq0l pic.twitter.com/2GRSRTKwfE
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) September 3, 2021

My jaded views aside, the announcement today that the NHL will be sending athletes to the Winter Games is an exciting one. A best on best hockey tournament featuring All-Star teams from Canada, the United States, Russian (or whatever we’re calling their team now), Sweden, and Finland is exciting. As are the potential upsets from expansion team caliber rosters from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Germany. And we’ll also get to see the Latvian, Chinese, Swiss, and Danish team enjoy some free ice-time.
Shutting down the NHL for a few weeks just as the season enters its final stretch might not be for everyone, but it …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Around the NHL: Winners and losers from the start of free agency

The start of free agency is easily one of the most exciting times on the hockey calendar, as teams take this opportunity to bring in some players to help improve their roster, giving up no assets except cap space. However, in a flat cap era, cap space is an extremely important asset, and wasting it can ruin your team for years, even worse than a bad trade or drafting a bust with a high pick.
With that, there are always winners and losers in free agency. Some teams make out really well bringing in good players on low or market value deals, and others get greedy, sign a ton of okay players to contracts that won’t age well, and then pay for it down the road (just look at all the assets teams have had to give up to get rid of bad contracts this offseason).
So, let’s take a look at some of the biggest winners (and losers) from the first couple of days of free agency.
Loser: Edmonton Oilers
Let’s start with maybe the most tragic one (only because I feel terrible for Connor McDavid), but after already weakening the roster by bringing in Duncan …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation