Abandoning the salary cap for a luxury tax would benefit the NHL more than just the Leafs

The NHL’s salary cap was introduced in 2005 in an effort to bring more parity to the league, which would theoretically make the NHL more exciting for fans to watch as every team had a chance to be competitive. At least that’s the story we were told, the truth is the salary cap exists only to save billionaires money and prevent athletes from getting paid what they’re worth.
In fact, over the past decade the NHL has actually had the least parity among the big four North American sports with only six unique champions compared to seven in the NBA and eight in each of the NFL and MLB.
Whatever the reasoning, it’s time that we admit that the salary cap experiment has failed, at least in its current iteration. With NHL free agency season set to start today, fans should be excited to see if their team is able to make a major signing, the kind that can vault a contender into a Stanley Cup favourite, however that unfortunately won’t be the case. Even with stars like Dougie Hamilton and Philipp Grubauer available, the vast majority of teams are unable to sign any of these …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Shop Local: Marlies that will make an impact for the Leafs after the trade deadline

As the NHL’s trade deadline approaches each year, fans tend to look outside of the organization for new talent. At times though, some of the best players who can make that difference for a team are actually within their own system.
In terms of the Leafs and Marlies — there are a ton of players who are on the cusp of making a difference at the NHL level. For some, like Nick Robertson and Rasmus Sandin, it’ll come a lot faster since Kyle Dubas already said they’d be with the Leafs on the back-half of this season. Plus, they’re top-end talents.

On TSN’s pre-game show, Kyle Dubas says Rasmus Sandin will likely return to the #Marlies next week.
Dubas said him and Nick Robertson may be with the #Leafs in the later-half of the NHL season.
— Nick Barden (@nickbarden) April 2, 2021

And even after this season, Dubas said he expects those two “to be big parts of our club for a long time.” But what about the other players within the Leafs system?
When looking at the Toronto Marlies there are so, so many players who could be listed as a depth option on any other NHL …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

The NHL announces new measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19

With roughly 90 players placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list and over 20 games postponed, the league announced on Thursday some new measures to try and slow the spread of the virus.

The @NHL announced today a series of additional COVID-19 preventative measures, which all Clubs must implement beginning with today’s games.
Details: https://t.co/U7Ywo6C8X2 pic.twitter.com/tNIiDenEg3
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) February 4, 2021

Along with a statement from Commissioner Gary Bettman, the new measures are as follows:

The glass behind both benches have to be removed to allow airflow to move more freely away from the benches
Players and staff are not permitted to arrive at the arena beyond 1 hour and 45 minutes before puck drop unless to receive treatment before the game and to prepare. Team meetings are to be held virtually as much as possible
Locker rooms are to be expanded which would allow the players to practice social distancing. Teams are expected to provide plans of the reconfigurations by February 10th
Air cleaners with HEPA are to be added behind the bench to improve air quality in the arena

While these are certainly improvements to the NHL’s plan to …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

When will the cap go up?

There has been plenty of talk about the NHL’s revenues lately, largely tied to the addition of a primary helmet partner, and divisional corporate sponsors:

With the official start of training camp, we proudly announce Scotiabank as the team’s helmet partner for the 2020-21 season.
Thank you @scotiabank for your continued support of the Maple Leafs and hockey in Canada. pic.twitter.com/UzTNGlUAfS
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) January 4, 2021

We know that high profile teams like the Leafs expect to generate more than $1m from these ads, but the average is much lower than that as some teams are using them to offset the lost exposure of no fans in the stands. Speaking of fans in the stands actually, there is some potential on that front:

UPDATED: as of now, 4 of the NHL’s 31 clubs will have some fans in attendance to start the 2020-21 season:
Arizona Coyotes: 25% cap, 3,450 fans Dallas Stars: 30% cap, 5,000 fans Tampa Bay Lightning: 23% cap, 3,900 fans Florida Panthers: 25% cap, 5,000 fans
— Mark J. Burns (@markjburns88) January 8, 2021

With that being said there is no timetable for fans to return to the stands in the Canadian division. The point is that the NHL is doing their best to open …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

All-Canadian Preview: The Ottawa Senators are the division’s punching bag

One of the best things about the NHL’s realignment for the 2021 season is the fact the Leafs will get to face their baby siblings from Ottawa nine times. That should be nine wins.

The key word here is should. 
Heading into the season, Ottawa is pretty much unanimously projected to finish at the bottom of the All-Canadian Division. But, to be fair to them, the Sens boast a lot of exciting young talent and that could make them more of a pain in the ass than they were last year.
What happened last season…
25-34-12 (62 points), 7th in Atlantic Division 
Goals For: 191 (24th), Goals Against: 243 (30th)
4-7-1 vs Canadian opponents
1-1-0 vs CGY, 1-0-0 vs EDM, 1-1-0 vs MTL, 0-2-1 vs TOR, 1-1-0 vs VAN, 0-2-0 vs WPG
The 2019-20 season was another tanking year in Ottawa.
Since reaching the Eastern Conference Final in 2017, the Sens have completely blown up their roster and have bottomed out in three consecutive seasons. Everyone from that playoff run — Erik Karlsson, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, etc — is now gone. The final nail in the coffin for the 2017 Sens came in 2020 when J.G. …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

The NHL’s all-Canadian Division could be unlikely after new Canada pilot project

The NHL’s all-Canadian Division could be unlikely after new Canada pilot project

The NHL’s 2021 start date is still yet to be seen but there have been some interesting developments throughout the last few days. It started with Vegas Golden Knights owner, Bill Foley, releasing some information on a possible ‘Canadian division’.
“Yeah, but they’re going to be playing in the Canadian division this year.” Said Foley after being asked about facing former Golden Knight, Nate Schmidt, a lot next season.
This sparked many reports and a lot of reaction on social media, but could the possible division be headed on its way out as fast as it was introduced?
On Thursday, the Government of Alberta, alongside the Government of Canada released plans on a pilot project for faster testing on international travellers. The plan states that international travellers will be tested once entering the country and will enter quarantine until the test results come back. If they come back negative, they’re free to leave quarantine as long as they agree to another test six or seven days after arrival into the country.
“The pilot project (..) will help inform decisions on new measures for international travel.” Said Health Canada in an email. The pilot project will begin on November 2nd …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

NHL bubble in Toronto remains COVID-19 free

The NHL’s bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton remain COVID-19 free.

The league announced Monday that 7,245 tests had been conducted between Aug. 2-8 and no tests came back positive.

NHL statement on COVID-19 testing results: pic.twitter.com/6sTU3SIGdf
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) August 10, 2020

It’s great news for the league, who has done a fine job of keeping teams safe. Daily testing continues on all members of the teams’ 52-person travelling parties.
Before entering the bubbles, nearly 50 players tested positive for COVID-19.
On Twitter: @zjlaing

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Zach Hyman returns to Maple Leafs practice

As the NHL’s return to play inches closer each day, the Toronto Maple Leafs are filling out their opening night lineup. One name that has been absent for the team’s last few practices is Zach Hyman, who went down after blocking a shot from Jason Spezza on Friday. Fortunately, Hyman rejoined the Leafs’ main practice on Tuesday, saying he felt great.

Zach Hyman on his return to the ice: “It feels great to back, felt like it was longer than a couple of days mentally. Took a shot there [on Friday] so it was just precautionary, but I’m feeling good.”
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) July 21, 2020

During his absence, Nick Robertson found himself filling Hyman’s spot alongside Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Although Robertson played very well during the team’s scrimmages, Hyman’s return is hugely beneficial to the Leafs.
Hyman already found himself back in his usual spot on the first line during practice, skating with Matthews and Mitch Marner. The fact that he felt it was longer than a couple of days just proves how eager he is to get these playoffs going. His return increases the Leafs …

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Author: Matthew Rodrigopulle / The Leafs Nation

Looking for a storyline in Toronto vs Columbus

With the NHL’s return to play set to begin on August 1st, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been matched up against the Columbus Blue Jackets for the qualifying round of playoffs. While sports fans gear up for a bizarre finale to the season, there seems to be a lack of storylines going into the play-in round.
Due to the lengthy hiatus, familiar themes of hot goalies, streaking teams, and nagging injuries simply aren’t there to be endlessly discussed and debated. Instead, we will need to dig deeper if we want to figure out what the narrative heading into this series will be.
While others at The Leafs Nation are doing an excellent job on previewing the upcoming best of five series by highlighting individual players, I have decided to do what Leafs fans often do best and look towards the past.
A History of Toronto vs Columbus
The most notable thing about the history of Toronto vs Columbus is that there really isn’t much history at all. The two teams have played against each other only 30 times, by far the lowest amount between Toronto and any other Eastern Conference opponent. By comparison, the Maple …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Are Lehtonen and Barabanov eligible for the NHL’s return to play?

Are Lehtonen and Barabanov eligible for the NHL’s return to play? The quick answer, probably not.
Alexander Barabanov and Mikko Lehtonen weren’t on the Leafs reserve list, let alone roster at the time of the trade deadline and were signed to contracts set to begin with the 2020-21 season. Odds are they won’t be playing, but that doesn’t mean that we now have reason to question that stance…

Big news if true: NHL will allow new contracted players to join NHL clubs for the RTP, meaning Romanov could be in for the #Habs. This is pending an approved deal between all parties. #GoHabsGo https://t.co/EAygAhTQys
— Andrew Zadarnowski (@AZadarski) June 30, 2020
The Romanov example is one of a player who was on the Canadiens reserve list, and while he didn’t have a contract, there’s more of a case to be made for him to be part of the organization moreso than the two Leafs we’d consider seeing added to the playoff group. There’s also this cold water…

NHL exec says report that it has an agreement with the NHLPA to allow …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation