What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

The Leafs season has reached the quarter mark, and it’s been quintessentially Leafy. The Leafs stunk up October, reminded us that they are for real in November, and along the way have had five of their key defensemen and both of their NHL goaltenders miss a significant amount of time. In the spirit of the season being 1/4 over, I’ve asked the TLN crew what is their biggest positive and negative of the season so far. Here are their answers.
Scott Ony
The biggest positive for me has been the play of John Tavares. I expected him to be a massive disappointment this season but he has been a pleasant surprise and is on pace for his most points since his first season in Toronto. I thought the speed of the game would pass him by but he just does all the little things right and continues to rack up the points.
Although he has played fairly well in his four games the biggest disappointment is Matt Murray. Who would have thought a goalie who hasn’t made more than 30 starts since 2019-20 would run into injury issues? If he can somehow manage to stay healthy the move to acquire him might look okay but at this point, it’s a huge miss.
Bennett Jull
The b …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes completed a one for one trade. The Leafs sent Curtis Douglas to the desert, and got back Conor Timmins.
Douglas has played 13 games this year with the Marlies, contributing 1 assist and racking up 30 penalty minutes. He is a well documented giant, standing at 6’9. His ceiling with the Leafs was a 4th line centre, and he probably never had the skating to get there. Douglas was very well liked in the dressing room, and was a consummate pro throughout his time with the Marlies. I wish him the very best.
Now, let’s get to Conor Timmins. First, we should examine why Kyle Dubas is taking a chance, and what makes this such a good gamble. Before Timmins played in the NHL or AHL, he was a member of the Soo Greyhounds (go figure). He joins a lengthy list of Leafs to have played in Sault Ste. Marie, and was even a d-partner of one Rasmus Sandin.
Timmins was the first pick of the 2nd round back in 2017, going 32nd overall to Colorado. He was also a member of the Canadian World Junior team in 2018 where he won Gold, and led the tournament in plus/minus. He has also …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Welcome to another edition of the Leafs Prospect Roundup here at The Leafs Nation! We’re going to do things a little differently this week, and rather than highlighting a handful of players in the system and their accomplishments over the past week, we’re going to do a rapid-fire round and bring you up to date on some of the bigger names in the Leafs’ prospect pool.
Let’s get to it.
Nick Robertson | W | Toronto (NHL)
Robertson was a star for the Marlies down the stretch last season after recovering from a broken leg suffered early on, finishing the season with 16 goals and 12 assists in just 28 games. He carried that into training camp for the Leafs and had a stellar preseason, ranking among the top scorers from the NHL’s exhibition schedule.
Due to cap restraints, he was sent back to the Marlies to begin the season but was quickly recalled when injuries to the main roster opened up salary cap space. He started with a bang, scoring two goals in his season debut – including the overtime winner – but it has been an up-and-down ride for Robertson since then. …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Luke Schenn might make sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the deadline

The Toronto Maple Leafs are bound to be buyers by the time the trade deadline rolls around this season, and defence may be an area that the team looks to address before the final push towards the playoffs.
It’s been a month since veteran blueliner Jake Muzzin left the Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes with a neck injury, with the Toronto Maple Leafs announcing that the 33-year-old is out indefinitely with a cervical spine injury and will be re-evaluated in February. This leaves the Leafs without one of their best defensive players for at the very least a significant chunk of the season, if he even returns at all.
The Leafs have managed fairly well in Muzzin’s absence, with a 6-3-3 record since, but with recent injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, as well as the potential for another significant injury along the blueline, with T.J. Brodie currently also on IR, the team will undoubtedly have one eye on the potential to add another body at some stage.
A situation such as this is likely to throw up all kinds of names, such as the aforementioned Coyotes’ wantaway Jakob Chychrun, who himself is currently sidelined with a wrist injury. Alternatively, a reunion with a former Leaf could be on many people’s mind, and this could very well be the case for Luke Schenn.
Schenn recently appeared on the Nation Network’s Leafs Morning Take ahead of the Vancouver Canucks’ trip to Toronto, where they suffered a 3-2 loss to the Leafs, …

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Author: James Reeve / The Leafs Nation

Amirov resumes treatment, Akhtyamov excelling, Lisowsky lighting it up: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

It has been an incredibly difficult year for the Leafs’ 2020 first-round pick, Rodion Amirov, after being diagnosed with a brain tumor last February. Through it all, he has been an inspiring source of strength and positivity, and it was great to see him around the Leafs’ players and staff in the early part of the season. It was an invaluable opportunity for him to familiarize himself with the organization and experience what life in the NHL could be like.
Unfortunately, Amirov’s agent Dan Milstein announced last week that he has returned home to his family as he undergoes further treatment and will be putting his training on hold. Amirov continued to train in the early stages of his treatment and had been eying a return to the ice sometime this year, but it appears that is on the back burner as the primary focus remains his overall health.

Update re: Rodion Amirov #WeAreGoldStar! pic.twitter.com/iZzbJR5aHh
— Dan Milstein-Hockey (@HockeyAgent1) November 8, 2022

We here at The Leafs Nation continue to send our best to Amirov and hope to see him fully healthy and back on the ice in the future.
Let’s get to this week’s Prospect Roundup.
Artur Akhtyamov | G | Neftyanik Almetievsk (VHL)
A fourth-round pick of the Leafs back in 2020, Akhtyamov has arguably been the best goaltender in the VHL so far this season. He is tied for the league lead in both wins and shutouts, and his .938 SV% is second among qualified goaltenders, though he has played in seven more games than the lone netminder ahead of him.
Akhtyamov played in his 17th and 18th games of the season l …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Keith Petruzzelli: What to expect

Keith Petruzzelli: What to expect

Another year of Maple Leafs hockey, another year of the injury bug causing goaltending issues.
With all of Ilya Samsonov, Matt Murray, and Joseph Woll at various phases of recovering from injury, the Leafs have been forced to lean on their depth. Erik Källgren, who saw some time with the Leafs last season, has filled in as starter, with mixed results.
The goaltender that intrigues me, however, is the acting backup Keith Petruzzelli. I wrote in my goaltending primer earlier this year that Petruzzelli would “have to have some degree of AHL success this season” in order to continue being considered an NHL prospect. And a degree of success he has had. Through six games with the Marlies so far, Petruzzelli is 6-0-0 with a .922 save percentage. This strong play, coupled with the Leafs’ injury issues, resulted in him signing his first NHL contract on November 6th.

Some Keith Petruzzelli highlights from this season. The 6-foot-6 netminder is 6-0-0 and has a .922 SV% with the Marlies. Coming off of a strong first professional season with the @NLGrowlers pic.twitter.com/09g3cj1WzB
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) November 6, 2022

To go from starting in the ECHL to earning an NHL contract within a year, injuries or not, is very significant. I spoke with TLN’s Dylan Murphy (@dylanmurphy329 on Twitter) who covers the Growlers for the site about him, and he praised Petruzzelli’s work ethic and positive attitude. Further, Dylan spoke with Growlers head coach Kyle Wellwood, who echoed that sentiment, saying that “[the organization] always said he was a gamer, he just had to learn to be a pro …

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Author: Colin Hunter / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews stands up for himself and shows his winning smile, chaos ensues

Auston Matthews stands up for himself and shows his winning smile, chaos ensues

The Leafs desperately needed a good result to get themselves back on track and they got exactly that on Wednesday night.
While it was against a Flyers team who played the previous night, Toronto did almost everything you could ask of them throughout the 60 minutes. Ilya Samsonov made some quality saves when he had to, John Tavares put the team on his back with an inspiring performance, and the bottom six played well while also getting rewarded with a goal from Zach Aston-Reese.
The power-play showed signs of being more creative and they turned it into two tallies. Although the Leafs took six infractions on the night, they killed off five of them and were much more sound down a man.
It was a game that was desperately needed with the temperature in the fanbase at a boiling point, which should help the team feel better about themselves as they prepare to take on the red-hot Bruins on Saturday. Theoretically, should be nothing to complain about with a game in which the Leafs were clearly the better team all night long.
As is always the case, people will find something to nitpick with the Leafs. In this case, many were upset at Auston Matthews for not really engaging with Travis Konecny near the end of the game.

Mark Giordano didn’t like that 🥊 pic.twitte …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Král gets the call, Tverberg tearing it up, Grebyonkin’s opportunity: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

This past week was another rough one for the Leafs, and with Sheldon Keefe searching for anything that could help get his club going, we saw the NHL debut of another Leafs prospect.
Filip Král, drafted in the fifth round back in 2018, was recalled to the Leafs and made his NHL debut against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. He skated on a pair alongside steadying veteran presence Mark Giordano, seeing just under 12 minutes of ice time and finishing with a +1 rating. He was back in the same spot on Sunday night against the Ducks but played just over eight minutes in another game that ended up slipping through the Leafs’ collective hands.
There were promising flashes from Král in the first two games of his NHL career. He showed an ability to quickly retrieve pucks below his own goal line and make the proper read in a timely fashion in order to start the breakout – something that the Leafs’ defenders have struggled with so far this season. But there were also a few instances where Král bobbled the puck or telegraphed passes that were easy to disrupt, leading to turnovers.
All in all, the young Czech blueliner held his own in his first tas …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: The Leafs interest in Bear, keeping an eye on the Canucks, and more

Rumours: The Leafs interest in Bear, keeping an eye on the Canucks, and more

The Leafs have been just average enough that it’s time to dust off the weekly rumours column and rosterbate until our very souls are chafed. Yesterday we got the ball rolling with the somewhat (read: very) impractical idea of trading for Jakob Chychrun, and today we’ll shift gears towards a far more practical option.
Ethan Bear to the Leafs?
Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek opined on the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman who has been sitting so far this season. He wants to play, there has been a trade request, and Carolina is actively trying to move him and of course, whenever there is a right shot defenseman the Leafs are bound to be one of the teams that are speculated on.
Bear is a personal favourite of mine. Living in Edmonton, I had a chance to watch him a lot and think he’s been underutilized by the Canes because they are simply too deep on their blueline. If he had stayed in Edmonton, he’d probably be playing in the top four and that means he averages out to being a pretty darn good right shot option on the third pairing.
Friedman makes it clear that the Hurricanes aren’t interested in a lousy return or retaining salary in order to make a Bear trade happen and in fact that waivers might even be more appealing than an AHL grab bag.
The Leafs cou …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Minten starts hot, Knies comes up clutch, Voit on fire: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Catching up with the prospect pool: Leafs Prospect Roundup

Nick Robertson has been a focal point of the Leafs Prospect Roundup over the last few weeks, and with his performance this past week, we may not be discussing him as a “prospect” for much longer.
With the Leafs off to a sputtering start through four games and the clouds of controversy starting to roll in, Robertson took the place of Denis Malgin on the second line alongside John Tavares and William Nylander and wasted little time announcing his arrival. Though it was only the fifth game of the campaign, it felt like the Leafs needed to get back in the win column, and it was Robertson who led the charge against his big brother and the rest of the Dallas Stars.
The game was tied early in the third period when Robertson took a hit along the wall to get the puck down low before darting toward the net and taking a slick return feed from Michael Bunting. He made no mistake, burying the puck far side against Scott Wedgewood for his first tally of the season. Robertson’s shot and finishing ability have never been in question, but it was his strong play along the boards and ability to play through traffic that created t …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation