How can Mitch Marner take yet another step forward for the Leafs?

Mitchell Marner has been a key part of the Toronto Maple Leafs ever since he first burst onto the scene in 2016-17, as part of that core group of rookies that helped the Leafs in their surprising push to the playoffs. Ever since that magical first season, Marner has only gotten better. There have been ups and downs for the star winger, from a controversial contract, to struggles in the playoffs, but he has undoubtedly been a key cog in the Leafs’ regular season success, and he will need to continue to do so if the Leafs wish to remain competitive.
But can Marner find yet another level in the 2022-23 season? He’s been nothing short of dominant alongside Auston Matthews the past few seasons, and despite the first-round loss, the two of them finally seemed to have it all together in the playoffs this season. Remember this?

“Marner to Matthews scORESSSSS! YES! YES! YES!”
Felt that call in my SOUL!pic.twitter.com/uQ3GiP9cKE
— Kwnhausen (@KwnStorm) May 11, 2022

That might have been the best Leafs fans have felt during the playoffs since 2004, and Marner will be on a mission to try and improve on it even further this season, with the burden of trying to bring the Leafs past the first round for the first time in what will be 19 years when April 2023 rolls around. That burden has seemed to weigh heavily on Marner in the past, especially after the raised expectations that came with the $10.9 million contract he signed in the summer of 2019. People noted that he seemed to try to do too much, especially in the playoffs, trying to be a hero …

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Author: Jaden Ho / The Leafs Nation

Colin Blackwell inks a two-year deal with Chicago

Part of the blockbuster deal that saw the Leafs net Mark Giordano will be heading out west to the Windy City.

The Blackhawks have signed forward Colin Blackwell, per a source. He played for the Kraken and Leafs last season.
— Scott Powers (@ByScottPowers) July 13, 2022

Elliotte Friedman reported that Colin Blackwell would be getting a two-year deal at a $1.2 million AAV.
Blackwell split this past season with the Kraken and Leafs where he posted a combined 10 goals, 10 assists, and 20 points in 58 games played while adding two points (a goal and an assist) in seven playoff games.
He showcased his versatility upon his arrival on the eve of the trade deadline as he did well everywhere he was placed in the lineup. While the offence did not really follow suit, the Leafs were a better team with Blackwell in the lineup. The Leafs do doubt would have loved to keep Blackwell if it was possible, but it became apparent that the ship had sailed with the additions of Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Adam Gaudette.
By going to Chicago, he is getting a chance to bet on himself by putting up impressive numbers on a team that is trying to tank for the first overall pick. Who knows, perhaps he is a player the Leafs may circle back to in a future trade deadline because his cap hit is super reasonable.
Stats from Hockey-Reference.com and Natural Stat Trick.

Salary information from PuckPedia.com.
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