The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: #8 Nick Abruzzese

One of my favourite and not-as-well-known prospects in the Leafs’ system is Nick Abruzzese. We at The Leafs Nation love our Nicks, between staff writer Nick Barden, my co-contributor Nick Richard (one of our resident prospect wizards), and some guy named Nick Robertson who might be pretty good, and now Abruzzese, who is a legitimately interesting prospect coming through the ranks.
Now in his draft+4 season, and his junior year with Harvard, Abruzzese is climbing up my list of favourite prospects (and favourite Nicks, watch out Nick Richard!). Here’s his basic information, from Elite Prospects:
Position: Center 
Age: 22
Height: 5’9″ / 175 cm
Weight: 161 lbs / 73 kg
Drafted: By Toronto, 124th overall, 2019 NHL Entry Draft
2020-21 Team: Harvard University Crimson (did not play)
2020 Prospect Ranking: #10
Abruzzese is not well known at this point, and was even less well known when the Leafs drafted as a double-overager in 2019. His main exposure to scouting was his time with the Chicago Steel of the USHL. The Steel have developed a unique training program through Darryl Belfry, who is a specialized hockey trainer who works with some of the league’s biggest stars, including our own Auston Matthews.
Despite being a bit under the radar, he’ …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: #13 Mac Hollowell

Mac Hollowell has all the makings of a fan favourite. He’s a local boy, puts up a ton of points, isn’t afraid to drop the gloves once in a while, and plays the coveted RD position. His 5’10 frame may have been mocked when the Leafs selected him in the 4th round of the 2018 draft, but with another right handed defenceman under 6’ tall having just won the Norris, more and more people are beginning to warm themselves up to this flashy blueliner.
Despite his smaller size, he knows how to throw around the body, positions well on defence, and has some of the best offensive instincts from any blueliner in the Leafs organization. Defensive prospects can be hard to project, which is why Hollowell remains in the #13 spot just like he was last year, but with some ranking him as high as 6th best prospect in the organization, it seems like it’s only a matter of time until more people realize what an excellent two-way threat he is.
Position: RD
Age: 18
Height: 5’10
Weight: 170 lbs
Drafted: 2018 4th round, 118th overall
2020-2021 Team: TUTO Hockey (Mestis) & Toronto Marlies (AHL)
2020 Prospect Ranking: 13th
Don’t let his height starting with …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

This is not the “Last Dance”

One of my favourite analysts around the Toronto Maple Leafs is Chris Johnston. I don’t ever want to disparage him or put any negative light on his ability as a reporter and analyst. Especially since we both hail from Cobourg, ON.
That said, today he said something that I believe is a very slightly misguided sentiment about the state of this Toronto Maple Leafs team. The tweet from Chris is below:

Judging by this quote from Kyle Dubas today, the 2021-22 Maple Leafs season will take on a “Last Dance” kind of vibe.
The vision isn’t changing.
It’s now or never for results. pic.twitter.com/FKspBo43Pl
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 22, 2021

In case this reference isn’t one you get, Netflix recently produced a docu-series called “The Last Dance” about Michael Jordan’s journey with the Chicago Bulls, and specifically around his final season before the owner was planning to blow everything up with a Scottie Pippen trade and not renewing Phil Jackson’s contract. It was really well done, if a bit biased towards MJ.
And while Chris Johnston walked back the reference, I’m not one to let a reference to one of the greatest sports …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs Draft Pick Cupboard is Bare and That’s Okay: A Letter from a Draft Guy

 
Hey Leafs Nation,
It’s me, you’re favourite bald draft analyst. It’s been a busy week. The Leafs made a few trades to bolster their lineup. The additions of Riley Nash, David Rittich, Ben Hutton, and the key piece of the deadline, Nick Foligno will all go a long way to ensuring the Buds are good to go should injuries strike. The team added depth, a key piece, and an NHL calibre goalie who helps make sure things don’t go awry in the crease. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty good deadline for Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs. One thing that seems to be bugging everyone is the lack of draft picks going forward with just six picks in the next two drafts combined. As a draft guy, I have one thing to say about that. Who cares?
Hear me out. Of those six picks, they have their 2021 second-round pick as well as their 2022 first and second-rounders. That means most of their truly premium assets are still in the fold to add good talent or use them next year to bolster the roster again. As I explained before, this year’s first-round is …

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Author: Tony Ferrari / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: Quick isn’t going to happen, cold water on Palmieri, paying teams to retain salary, and a wild Bertuzzi appears

One of my favourite parts of rumour season is when you come across something so incredibly stupid that you worry that it has to be true because no one is just going to create it out of nothing.                            So goes the Jonathan Quick to Toronto rumour.
The Leafs are on the verge of losing their declining starter and his $5M at the end of this season to free agency, a move to bring in Quick would be one to bring in an older starter, with more term, more cap hit, and even worse results. The argument for Quick being that he got along well with Jack Campbell. You know who gets along with Jack Campbell? Everybody.
The idea of Quick coming in would be based on the Kings retaining salary, and that really doesn’t make it much more enticing. It still results in the Leafs paying over 3x the cost of Michael Hutchinson for essentially the same results. Even if the goal was to trade Frederik Andersen for Quick, and have half of Quick’s cap hit retained, I’m not sure the $2.1M cap savings now vs. the extra two years of having a $2.9M mediocre backup make …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Hey Toronto Raptors, bring back our boy Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

Hey Toronto Raptors, bring back our boy Rondae Hollis-Jefferson

The Toronto Raptors 2020 fan favourite was recently released by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson was recently released by the Minnesota Timberwolves in a surprising move. Hollis-Jefferson had some fairly impressive pre-season performances including a 17-point outing against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, the Timberwolves made the questionable decision to release the veteran swingman. The Toronto Raptors […]
Hey Toronto Raptors, bring back our boy Rondae Hollis-Jefferson – Raptors Rapture – Raptors Rapture – A Toronto Raptors Fan Site – News, Blogs, Opinion and More

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Author: Jack Long / Raptors HQ

NHL Draft moved up to Oct 6/7 and who the experts think the Leafs could take at 15th overall

The Leafs first round pick and our new favourite son will arrive three days earlier than originally expected, as the NHL has announced Tuesday, October 6th as the opening night of the entry draft.

NHL Draft is being moved ahead a couple of days. First round Oct 6, rest on Oct. 7.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) September 8, 2020

Breaking with the tradition of having the event on the weekend, the NHL is looking to maximize the potential for a little down time and have a true offseason by moving the draft forward. It’s entirely possible we see a similar move with free agency as well.
One of the other drivers behind this decision is probably to move the draft off of a holiday weekend, as it allows the league to shutdown for Canadian Thanksgiving as well as Columbus Day in the US.
So we are now officially less than one month to the entry draft. Cool. To celebrate, here’s a rundown of the TLN draft content for you to consume…
From Erik Karlsson to Cody Ceci — A look at recent No. 15 overall picks from the NHL draft

Should the Leafs lean towards drafting more players from European …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Scott’s Thoughts: Game 1 vs. Columbus Edition

That’s right, everybody’s least favourite column is no longer weekly during the playoffs. Instead of every Friday, I’m now going to be doing it after every playoff game, so that you all know exactly what I’m thinking going into the next playoff game, because I know you all care about my opinion.
The Leafs had a fine showing in Game 1 of the playoffs, but unfortunately for them, one bounce went for Columbus, and it was basically over. It was certainly disappointing, but the series is far from over.
We made their worse goalie look good
While this may seem like a bad thing, because it means that the Blue Jackets worse goalie shut us out (which is bad), but on the bright side, it means he’s probably going to be playing for the rest of the series.
That bodes well for the rest of the series, as Elvis Merzlikins has been the better goalie of the two this year, and probably should have gotten the Game 1 start.

Player
Save %
5v5 dFSv%
GSAA
GAR

Merzlikins
0.923
0.2
10.56
11.8

Korpisalo
0.911
-0.23
4.76
6.9

Andersen
0.909
-0.59
-6.04
9.8

Merzlikins is significantly better than Korpisalo in every regard, and while …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Announcing the Absolutely, the Leaf’s Madness” bracket

In case you were wondering what your favourite Leafs blog was going to do for content during this hiatus, look no further. Well, keep looking, we’ll have other stuff too, but also look at this. It’s our official March Bracket…
ABSOLUTELY, THE LEAF’S MADNESS!!!!
Okay, so you aren’t particularly excited about this yet, but hopefully you will become very invested in this because you have absolutely nothing else to going on regarding sports outcomes.
We’re starting off by asking you, our valued reader to submit your 5 favourite Leafs from 5 distinct eras of the team that will make up our regions. It’s going to be those votes that influence who winds up on the bracket and establish the seeding. And you know because it’s the Leafs, we can’t just go with 64 player bracket, IT’S 67, BABY!!! WOOOOOOO!!!! There will be three play-ins so we can do this right.
Here are the regions:
Your Grandpa’s Leafs region: This covers off everything 1967 and earlier. The glory years when a team didn’t really need to be good, you just needed …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Guest Post: How Garret Sparks Helped Me Love Hockey

As absurd as it is to say, Garret Sparks is my favourite hockey player. 
That statement demands some qualifiers. I should stress that I do not believe Sparks is above criticism for his performance last season, nor do I see him as some paragon of goaltending that is unfairly viewed by Leafs fans. Instead, I would like to share my story of how my love of hockey evolved, and how Garret Sparks unwittingly played such a central role in helping me get to where I am today. 

To put it bluntly, I have lived a fairly privileged life.
I am an LGBTQ+ person, but I live in a country where I am not punished for being honest about who I am (it helps that I am “straight passing”, I am aware). I struggle with my mental health, but I have access to resources that allow me to manage my situation without financial penalty. Most importantly, though, I have had amazing educational opportunities, culminating with my enrollment at the University of Toronto as a Masters candidate in 2016.
These opportunities also brought their challenges; leaving home while my parents dealt with my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s was a heartbreaking choice, and I …

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Author: Dan William / The Leafs Nation