Michael Bunting would be a dollar and a pound bargain for the Leafs

F#ck it, I guess we’re talking about free agents now. We could be talking about the Leafs match up against the Lightning, but nah, talking about free agents that can fit into the narrow bit of workable cap space for the Leafs is cool too. Though today we’ll hopefully get to have our post up for more than 20 minutes before the player we’re talking about announces they have no intention of playing for any team other than the one they are currently with.
So in the spirit of finding someone who is both affordable and would want to play in Toronto, we’ll dial things back from aging superstars, and refocus on a player that might have had his NHL breakout season last year. That player is Michael Bunting.
Michael Bunting checks a lot of boxes for things that the Leafs could use:

First of all, he’s 25, so he’s about as young as you can find when you’re talking unrestricted free agents. He hasn’t played in the NHL enough for the Coyotes to retain him as an unrestricted free agent, so their loss could very easily be the Leafs gain. Younger is …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

An open letter to Martin Marincin

So, I guess this is goodbye, huh? Obviously this isn’t the circumstances I wanted, but hopefully you’re happy with them.
You probably don’t know who I am — but I definitely know who you are. You’re great person. A mysterious man. An elite highlight-reel goal-scorer.
It all started back on February 29th, 2020 when you scored that goal. It was truly amazing.
The smile on your face after you scored it, the joy everyone had when you put it past Thatcher Demko — each and every moment you stepped onto the ice after that — I was looking for you.
A few days after the goal, I was pressed to buy your jersey. One of my tweets hit 500 retweets and I had to answer the bell, which for me meant purchasing a possible one-in-ten Martin Marincin Leafs home jersey.
Yep. I spent $280 on that thing.
The man making the jersey wondered if I was crazy when I asked for it, to which I said “no”. But honestly, I didn’t know what was to come in the future.
Because of you, I’ve met a lot of great people online. Great isn’t even the right word — they’re incredible. …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The Habs vs. Jets series is a reminder of what could have been if the Leafs weren’t so committed to failing spectacularly

The Habs vs. Jets series is a reminder of what could have been if the Leafs weren’t so committed to failing spectacularly

I guess everyone needs a gimmick, and the Leafs have chosen finding interesting and exciting ways to fail as theirs. No longer satisfied with blowing Game 7s, the Leafs upped the ante this year and blew games 5, 6, and 7. That’s commitment. Setting the NHL record for longest Stanley Cup drought in history, well, 54 years of failure is commitment defined.
Yes, this series is doing wonders to keep the anger alive and well as we embark on week two of the offseason, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to be any easier anytime soon.
So here’s the thing. We’ve just watched the Canadiens in a series. We saw the Leafs outscore them, and at times outplay them. For the Leafs playing to even 80% of what could reasonably be expected of them, they would have won that series.
Now enter the Winnipeg Jets. They seemed to be sending a message by sweeping Connor McDavid and the Oilers. They looked like they could potentially be a hard out. Apparently that is not the case at all. They are now on the verge of being swept, and it’s hard not to see Montreal waltzing neatly into the Semi-Final …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

George Springer is headed back to the Injured List

I guess it wasn’t about fatigue after all. Shocking!

According to the Blue Jays, the $150 million man will be headed back to the 10-day Injured List with the same right quad injury from before. It’s retroactive to May 3, so Springer will be able to come off the IL in just over a week.
Springer made his Blue Jays debut last Wednesday but appeared to re-aggravate his injury on Saturday. Despite that, Springer managed to smack two dingers in that huge comeback win, but was then removed mid-game on Sunday with what the team called “fatigue.”
Apparently, Monday was a “scheduled day off” for Springer after the team took a flight to the West Coast, but Springer was also kept out of the lineup on Tuesday and Wednesday, making it very, very clear something else was going on. After running an MRI on Wednesday, the team decided to put him back on the IL.
This truly is a weird situation. Why the Blue Jays felt compelled to pretend this was about fatigue is puzzling, given the fact that everyone paying any sort of attention could realize that wasn’t the case. It made the organization come across as disingenuous …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Canadian Federal Government close to approving reduction in quarantine time for NHL players

I guess there is no doubt that the NHL matters in Canada after this one, as it appears the league has successfully lobbied to reduce the quarantine time for players in advance of the April 12th trade deadline.

Federal government poised to approve a 7-day quarantine with extra testing for NHL players traded from American teams to Canadian teams before the April 12th trade deadline. Government source says all provinces with NHL teams have approved of the measures.
— CBC News Alerts (@CBCAlerts) March 25, 2021

So first off, I can’t imagine anyone else on the other side of the border looking to come into Canada is particularly excited to see this news, but that’s without knowing any of the additional details. There are potentially additional testing requirements, and costs that are being absorbed by the team instead of the government that likely makes this move palatable for them to approve. Given that we’re not a political blog, none of us are epidemiologists, and the details are limited to the tweet above at this point, we’ll hold back any judgement on how this is playing out.
From a hockey perspective, there are numerous benefits to a team like the …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs add Ian Scott to their taxi squad

I guess it won’t be a quiet few days in Leafs land, as the day has already seen the departure of Travis Boyd, but with every departure comes a new beginning, and that new beginning is the arrival of Ian Scott.

Goaltender Ian Scott has been reassigned to the @MapleLeafs taxi squad.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 22, 2021

So, the good news here is that Ian Scott is healthy enough that he can now practice and hang out in the Leafs pressbox. The other shoe that still needs to fall is what does Ian Scott being on the Leafs taxi squad mean besides the fact they want to keep Woll on the Marlies for the time being.
Well, it could mean that Andersen is hurt enough to be going on the injured reserve.
It could mean the Leafs want Hutchinson to go down to the Marlies and get in some games.
What it means is this year and taxi squads continue to be weird, but interesting and we’ll have to wait patiently to see why this happened.
 

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Sandin reportedly out several weeks after blocking a shot

I guess we can file this one under things that certainly aren’t ideal.

It sounds like Rasmus Sandin’s foot injury will sideline him for several weeks. He got hurt blocking a shot during the Toronto Marlies season opener in Winnipeg on Monday night.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 17, 2021

After Greg Moore had initially stated that Sandin would be listed as day to day, the diagnosis has taken a turn for the worse, and Sandin could miss a sizeable portion of this condensed AHL season. That would mean that since last March, one of the Leafs prospects has played five minutes in the NHL, and one game in AHL. Again, that’s not ideal for him or the Leafs.
As far as the Leafs depth situation, with Lehtonen, Marincin, Liljegren, and Rosen all capable of stepping up and the Marlies being deep enough on defense that they trade David Warsofsky and were dressing Joseph Duszak as a forward, the immediate team worries aren’t significant. It’s more the long term picture that needs to be considered, especially since it seemed that Rasmus Sandin was going to be a likely member of the Leafs defensive group next season.
The issues with …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Mikko Kokkonen is the Leafs 8th ranked prospect

I guess we’ll stick with the theme from yesterday and keep on talking about Finnish defensemen. A lot of the same things can be said about Niemela and Kokkonen, so excuse me if it looks like I plagiarized Nick Richard’s article, but that doesn’t change that like Niemela, Kokkonen is smooth skating defenseman with a good head on his shoulders that isn’t overly flashy and the Leafs were fortunate that he slid to the 3rd round of the draft.

RANK
GRADE
Time until NHL ready

8
C
2-4 YEARS

Position: Defense
Height: 5’11
Weight: 198lbs
Shoots: Left
Drafted: 2019 3rd Round, 84th Overall
What kind of player is he?
I’m going to jump straight to a player comparison. Player comparisons are generally terrible, and never accurate, but that’s not going to stop me from repeatedly going back to that well, and say the kind of player that the Leafs will get in Mikko Kokkonen is a player who plays a very Carl Gunnarsson style of hockey. That’s not to say he’ll be as good or as bad as Gunnarsson, depending on your opinion of Gunnarsson, but simply it speaks to Kokkonen being a steady kind …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Staturday: Less is more when it comes to Cody Ceci

I guess you don’t really need to see the numbers to know that the lower the playing time the better off the Leafs are when it comes to Cody Ceci. At the close of the 2019-20 season we will finally be down to the target number of zero minutes and the cruel twist of COVID is that while many of us were hoping to be done with Ceci by now, we’re going to be spending the summer with him.
Nevertheless, he’s a Leaf for now, and that’s not ideal, but it’s interesting to see how Sheldon Keefe might have cracked the code on Cody. It seems like a pretty simple one, and it’s to stop playing him like a top pairing defenseman, and put him on the third pairing as much as possible.
Under Mike Babcock, Cody Ceci’s most frequent partner in every single game played until Babcock’s dismissal was Morgan Rielly. There were two games where he tried Ceci with Muzzin in shutdown situations, but even in those games his primary partner remained Morgan Rielly. Not to throw Babcock completely under the bus …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs Madness Championship!!!

I guess the story here is that Wendel Clark and Auston Matthews were narrowly defeated in what were the closest match-ups of the bracket. Matthews likely failing to advance based on lack of experience and Clark rode beloved fan favourite for as long as he possibly could in this.
As for the Sundin vs. Bower match-up, it’s hard to imagine that Sundin isn’t going to run away with this. That’s not to say that Bower isn’t incredibly, but pretty much everyone reading this has seen and enjoyed Sundin, where Bower is your father’s/grandfather’s Leaf and for many of us, Bower was the smiling, accessible legend who always had time for Leafs fans and the notion that he could be one of the top goaltenders of all time is lost on us due to among other things, recency bias.

For the title of All-Time Favourite Leaf
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) March 31, 2020
So tomorrow we’ll have our champion and The Leafs Nation will be forced to move on to a new means of providing you with daily Leafs content. So while Bower or Sundin have equal …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation