Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2019 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue on by reviewing the 2019 draft class for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This was the first time in nine years that the Leafs did not have a first-round pick, so the pressure was on Toronto’s staff to find some gems with the later picks they did still hold.
Toronto had six picks during the 2019 draft, and while none have become full-time NHLers just yet, we will be getting to the first two prospects that have actually made their NHL debut in today’s article.
2nd Round, 53rd Overall – Nick Robertson, LW, OHL
At the time
Heading into the 2019 draft, Nicholas Robertson was an interesting prospect to keep an eye on. While he was consistently ranked inside the first round by public rankings, including those released by the likes of Craig Button, Sam Cosentino, Chris Peters, Corey Pronman, Cam Robinson, and Scott Wheeler, Robertson’s lack of size meant he was a prime target to fall down draft boards.
T …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 2

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look at the rest of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after reviewing the first six selections Toronto made in yesterday’s look back.
As mentioned in the first part of the 2020 draft look back, the Maple Leafs were active on the trade front during this draft. As such, they held three picks in both the sixth round and eventually the seventh round, which we will take a look at in today’s article.
6th Round, 168th Overall – Veeti Miettinen, RW, Finland U20
At the time
A record scorer at the Finnish U20 level, Veeti Miettinen’s path to eventually play in the NCAA meant he could not play professional games prior to coming over to North America to join St. Cloud State. This meant that despite Miettinen’s dominant performances at the U20 level in Finland leading up to his draft year, he would have to remain at that level if he was to maintain NCAA eligibility.
He aga …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2020 draft, Part 1

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we continue by taking a look back at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. As the Maple Leafs made a whopping 12 (!) selections in that draft, I’ll be splitting this one into two articles, beginning with the first six picks today.
Toronto was active during the 2020 draft, making three trades during Day 2 of the draft to trade up and down the board. Unlike yesterday’s look back at the 2021 draft, we do begin on Day 1 with the first round.
1st Round, 15th Overall – Rodion Amirov, RW, KHL
At the time
While the Leafs did trade their first-round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in order to shed Patrick Marleau’s cap hit the previous summer, Toronto was able to recoup a first-round pick when they traded Kasperi Kapanen back to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The highest pick the Leafs had held since drafting Auston Matthews first overall in 2016, there was a lot of pressure on Toronto’s staff to hit on the 15th overa …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Looking back at the Toronto Maple Leafs 2021 draft

Over the course of this week, I’ll be looking back at each of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ four draft classes under the tenure of GM Kyle Dubas, reviewing how the selections were viewed at the time, how they have panned out to date, and noting what talent they missed out on (if any) in the immediate picks following.
Today, we begin with the Maple Leafs’ most recent class, taking a look back at the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Toronto entered the 2021 draft with only three picks, in the second, fifth, and sixth rounds. Numerous picks had been traded at the deadline and with a lack of draft capital, many expected the Leafs to trade down once or even twice to recoup assets.
Instead, as the picks slowly ticked off the board on Day 2 of the draft leading up to the Maple Leafs’ first selection at 57th overall, they did not trade down. Rather, with a player their scouts were very high on still available, they made the pick.
2nd Round, 57th Overall – Matt Knies, LW, USHL
At the time
When the pick was made, many were surprised first that the Leafs did not trade down, but also that Matt Knies was the selection.
On paper, Knies didn’t fit the characteristics of a typical Toronto dr …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

2022 Olympics: Potential NHL Free Agents to Watch in Group C

I’ll be honest with you, I planned on writing a full profile for each of the players (age 26 or younger) in the Olympics that I thought had NHL potential. I did that back in 2018, and I was correct on Artem Zub, Dominik Kahun, and Pius Suter. In the 4 years since then I have developed much better tools to compare European FAs, and I’m struggling to keep the list under 30 players.
The past couple years have forced every professional team to test out younger players, and in many European leagues those young players have proven to be difference makers. Obviously players under NHL contract being ineligible means there will be more FAs, but Russia, USA, Slovakia, and Latvia have especially young rosters. Long story short, there are more young players both drafted and undrafted than in previous Olympics.
With so many players still on an upward trajectory, I could write 10,000 words and not profile them all. That’s why I have sectioned this into three parts corresponding to Olympic Groups A, B, and C, in reverse order. (Yes, I did it that way because it spells CBA). In total I am looking at twenty-seven u27 players, and I think there are 5-10 hockey …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Five Pressing Leafs Topics: January Edition

I’ll be starting the new year with a monthly article showcasing some of the most pressing Leafs topics and concerns! So far this month, the Leafs are 5-2-1 and sit comfortably in a playoff spot. Of course, the expectations are higher than that, in an Atlantic division filled with elite teams – the margin for error is extremely thin. Without wasting any more time, let’s get right into it.
Here are the topics that will be covered:
The Forgotten Fourth Line
Do the Leafs have a problem defending leads?
Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl
Timothy Liljegren: Trade piece or part of the core? 
Analyzing the new balanced lines from practice
The Forgotten Fourth Line 
One of the biggest differences between this version of the Leafs and last year has been their fourth line. Last season it provided Toronto with a ton of scoring in limited sheltered minutes. Jason Spezza, the staple of the line, finished the season with 24 points at 5v5 while averaging just over eight minutes at 5v5 minutes per game. Alex Ovechkin, Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Tyler Toffoli also each finished with 24 points at 5v5 despite playing over 200 more minutes at night than Spezza. This year Spezza has only five points at 5v5 in 34 games. The contrast between Spezza’s production in the past two seasons is seen below:
Season
GP
TOI/GP
Goals/60
Total Assists/60
Total Points/60
Shots/60
S%
iCF/60
On-Ice SH%
2020/2021
54
8.58
1.04
2.07*
3.11 *

7.77
13.33
13.47
10.76
2021/2022
34
9.36


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Author: Nick DeSouza / The Leafs Nation

Picking apart this awful Blue Jays and Yankees trade suggestion

Disclaimer: This article is for fun. What I’ll be putting on blast is the idea of the tweet itself, not the man behind it. While the idea is dumb, that doesn’t make the man behind the tweet stupid, dumb or any other mean word. If you decide to ratio him, make sure that it’s in a playful manner, because being a meanie on Twitter isn’t cool.

The tweet heard around the Baseball World:
Do you ever just read a short form media post and figure that the world is actually burning? Well, then you know the feeling I had when I woke up this morning and read this tweet.

First and foremost the Yankees have to fix this shortstop situation. Why is this still a thing?! The fact that they do not have a franchise shortstop to man the position still blows my mind. Isn’t this the same organization Derek Jeter aka “The Captain” played 20 straight… pic.twitter.com/irfMJDn8M5
— Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) January 18, 2022

Not a big issue, right? I recently worked on an article that went through each AL East team’s infield, and while Gio Ureshela should not be a starter, he suffices as a utility player. However, the Yankees have one of the worst infields in the East and with Gio Urshela starting at short, that is a position needing of an upgrade.
Instead of going down the usual path of “oh, let’s just spend half a billion dollars on [insert player name here]”, Xaiver decides to tweet that the Yankees should look for a replacement through trade. His suggestion? Well, read below

Bo Bichette and Bobby Witt Jr. #eXamineIt and Get it done. Let me know what you think! pic.twitter.com/5A6V3suD7j
— Xavier Scruggs (@Xavier_Scruggs) January …

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Author: Brennan Delaney / Blue Jays Nation

The Optimist’s Guide to the 2020 Blue Jays

I’ll be honest, putting the words “optimist” and “2020” together in a sentence doesn’t seem right.

From wildfires to a pandemic to murder hornets and so on and so on and so on, 2020 has already established itself as a cursed year. We’re just over halfway through and it feels like it’s been a decade.
But, while it might be difficult to be an optimist as we continue to navigate probably the strangest year in our lives, we have baseball to lean back on. Hope springs eternal in this silly game, so, if you need something to manifest some optimism about, here’s your remedy.
The COVID-19 pandemic shutting the world down for a few months has, among many others things, resulted in Major League Baseball opting to squeeze its season into a 60-game mad dash. Without a full 162-game slate for the law of averages to separate the pretenders from the contenders over the course of the dog days of summer, this mini-season is going to be absolutely jam-packed with randomness and chaos.
For a young team like the Blue Jays with a whole bunch of untapped potential …

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

I’m not sure if this Stanley Cup will mean more, but it definitely won’t mean less

I’ll preface this by saying the NHL is right now in midst of what I think is the most crucial period of this potential restart, and if they mess it up, everything goes to pot. The ongoing training camps all over North America should make people uneasy about what could happen in the next two weeks, especially considering some of the extreme hot spots in the southern States. Why this stage of the league’s attempt to get back on its feet wasn’t centered in the two hub cities as well, I’ll never know. But this is where we are, and all we can do is hope everyone gets into their bubbles safe and hassle-free. From there I think things get easier.
The league has been on shutdown so long I almost forget what it’s like to argue about sports, but one constant discussion point that’s circled this potential restart is whether or not this upcoming playoff will be “legit” for lack of a better term. In other words, will there be an asterisk next to the Cup winner due to these strange circumstances? Is it going …

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Author: Ryan Fancey / The Leafs Nation

Are you satisfied? It’s ratified.

It’s nice to get a Leafs PR tweet in my timeline. So I’ll share it all with you know.

NHL and NHLPA ratify four-year CBA extension and Return to Play Plan. #StanleyCup Qualifiers to begin August 1. https://t.co/IErZJ2hifT pic.twitter.com/f5HgirRFLB
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) July 10, 2020

Hockey is back, baby! For better or worse it’s here. I’m going to be optimistic and say for the better. We’ll have more on the qualifying round schedules, and other tidbits shortly. For now, we’ll bask in the glory that training camps will open as planned on Monday, and we can begin our watch for the official training camp roster.

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation