Who will be Canada’s best NHL team next season?

The All-Canadian division looks to be a sure thing and with that comes predicting the best and worst teams.
Every NHL club has made significant moves that have altered their team in some way, shape or form. The question is, whether it changes their team for the good, or the bad. We will have to wait and see what happens for that but we can still try and predict who Canada’s top team is.
Here are my predictions and who I think will be the best and worst teams in the inevitable All-Canadian division. I hope you enjoy the video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs have a strong case against Ilya Mikheyev in arbitration

One thing that may have been lost in the shuffle a busy Day 2 of free agency for the Leafs is that winger Ilya Mikheyev filed for salary arbitration after being unable to come to terms with the Leafs on a new contract prior to the arbitration filing deadline.
The Leafs had qualified Mikheyev earlier in the week so as to retain his negotiating rights. What is interesting is that the NHL’s qualifying offer rules dictate that the Leafs had to give Mikheyev a two-way offer with a 5% raise on his base salary of $832,500 from last season, meaning that if Mikheyev were to accept the QO his cap hit for next season would have been a few dollars short of $875,000.
That’s not going to happen, though. Considering his immediate contributions to the Maple Leafs this season it is understandable that Mikheyev and his camp may be expecting more than a 5% bump in base salary, especially when taking into account Mikheyev’s total compensation including his signing bonus was $925,000 last season. However, there are a few things that may be working against Ilya and his agent when it comes to his arbitration case, which may make settling beforehand the smartest …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Day Two of Free Agency hit a bit different for the Leafs

So here’s the thing. The Simmonds and Brodie signings were what we were promised. We need a right side defenseman was coming, we knew that Kyle Clifford was going to be replaced. We might have been left expecting more, and Day two might not have been about necessarily giving us what we want or what we were promised, but it was about Kyle Dubas doing what he had to do for the salary cap, for Sheldon Keefe, and for establishing that the 2021 Leafs won’t be what we’ve been used to.
Now more than ever it seems that the core of the Leafs will be the core of the Leafs. Beyond Tavares, Matthews, Marner, and Nylander, it seems that Rielly and Muzzin as part of that vision as well. Add in the commitments to Simmonds, Brodie, and even Spezza, about half the lineup card was looking established before anything began to happen on Day Two. Of course it wasn’t quiet.
Rather than going chronologically, we’ll go with the biggest event first, and that was the decision to trade Andreas Johnsson to the New Jersey Devils straight up for Joey Anderson. On the surface this might have …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Leafs trade up and select Dmitri Ovchinnikov at 137th overall

Here’s the thing about the Leafs and Russians, they’ve got a pretty solid track record over the past few years. The fact that the KHL and MHL are in full swing should put a bit more of a priority on drafting players in professional overseas leagues.
What happened here is the Leafs had a player, Dmitri Ovchinnikov that they wanted and they went for him.

We’ve acquired the 137th overall pick from Florida in exchange for the 153rd and 212th selections in this year’s #NHLDraft.#LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 7, 2020

Now as far as the player, Ovchinnikov is a 5’10 forward, that was a point per game player in the MHL last year, and has 7 points in his first 6 games this year.
From Elite Prospects:
He plays with pace, attacks the inside, cuts through traffic, makes flashy net drives, and creates passing lane. He identifies the trailer and teammates through layers. Defensively, Ovchinnikov brings refined decision-making and discipline. He supports the play, keeps an active stick to deter passes, and brings a consistent effort.
Ovchinnikov didn’t find his way into a ton of rankings, but these seems like the Leafs going off the board a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Worst Leafs Trades Since 1967 Countdown – No. 4: Russ Courtnall for John Kordic

Adding truculence to the lineup was a thing that enamoured executives of the Toronto Maple Leafs long before Brian Burke infamously popularized the term in Toronto. The worst example of swapping skill for muscle in franchise history came back in the late-1980s.

As the Leafs slipped into the Harold Ballard-led purgatory days in the early 80s, they were frequently landing picks towards the top of the NHL entry draft each summer. One of those picks was used on a speedy winger from British Columbia named Russ Courtnall, who the Leafs grabbed with the seventh-overall pick in 1983.
After using three-consecutive top picks on defencemen (Gary Nyland in 1983, Jim Benning in 1982, and Craig Muni in 1981), the Leafs needed an influx of high-end talent up front, so they went with Courtnall. He was coming off of a season in which he posted 97 points in 60 games for the Victoria Cougars of the WHL and appeared to be close to NHL ready.
The following season, Courtnall posted 66 points in 32 games for the Cougars, 13 points in seven games for Canada at the World Juniors, and 12 points in 14 games for the Leafs. Courtnall quickly established himself as a quality offensive talent, breaking the 20-goal …

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Author: Cam Lewis / The Leafs Nation

NHL History: Toronto Maple Leafs fire Cliff Fletcher today in 1997

If there’s one thing we know about Cliff Fletcher’s time in Toronto, it’s that he wasn’t shy about making big trades.

He acquired and later dealt Doug Gilmour. He dealt and later acquired Wendel Clark. He brought in established veterans, and wasn’t coy about trading them away.
Hired by the Leafs in 1991, Fletcher was fired by the club today in 1997.
Fletcher had made two big trades within his first year that would help shape the Leafs through the 90’s. He first brought in Glenn Anderson, Craig Berube and Grant Fuhr in a Sept. 19 1991 deal that saw him flip Vincent Damphousse, Peter Ing, Luke Richardson, Scott Thornton, cash and future considerations to the Edmonton Oilers.
Both Anderson and Fuhr were in Toronto for three and two years respectively, but provided some much-needed punch to the club.
But four months later, he pulled off his biggest deal.
The recently acquired Craig Berube was paired with Alexander Godynyuk, Gary Leeman, Michel Petit and Jeff Reese and subsequently traded to Calgary on Jan. 2, 1992.
In return, the Leafs got star forward Doug Gilmour along with Jamie Macoun, Kent Manderville, Ric Nattress and Rick Wamsley. …

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Author: Zach Laing / The Leafs Nation

Top Leafs Players Outside the NHL #10 Mac Hollowell

Taking overagers in the draft has never been my thing. It’s a bad philosophy to have as a blanket rule, but generally there is a lot of appeal in getting players with more development time available, and many of those overagers will still be available as free agents the following spring.  Now, my personal drafting preference really isn’t the point of this post, except to acknowledge that in the particular instance it might have put me on the wrong side of history as Mac Hollowell seems to be developing nicely.
Hollowell is another player that is undersized by pro hockey standards, as he’s only 5’10 and 170 lbs. He’s not going to be an intimidating, bruising defensemen, and while I can appreciate the need for smart physical play on the blueline, Mac Hollowell’s skillset is important as well, and having a smart capable puck moving who can quarterback powerplays, and drive offense from the blueline.
Hollowell came to the Leafs via the Soo Greyhounds, a team that both Dubas and Keefe have plenty of familiarity with and there’s something to be said about going with a player you …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Marlies sign a pair of NCAA Free Agents

The only thing that tops the excitement of NCAA free agent season, is when those free agents get signed to AHL contracts, so hooooo doggy, is today an exciting day.

#Marlies sign a pair of captains – Gordie Green of Miami University and Bobby McMann of Colgate – to two-year AHL contracts. Both are forwards, both are 23. #Leafs
— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) April 2, 2020
That’s right, two, count ’em, two NCAA players will be joining the Marlies/Growlers the next time hockey is played.
First up, we have Bobby McMann, a 6’1 center from Wainwright, Alberta. He’s played all four of his seasons at Colgate and is 23.
Year
School

GP
G
A
P
PIM
2016-17
 Colgate Univ.
NCAA
35
5
14
19
12
2017-18
 Colgate Univ.
NCAA
40
14
16
30
20
2018-19
 Colgate Univ. “A”
NCAA
36
8
15
23
32
2019-20
 Colgate Univ. “C”
NCAA
34
10
10
20
58
None of his numbers really speak to being NHL bound, but he’s got the potential to help out as system depth, and if a shortened offseason is anticipated, getting depth figured out now makes a lot of sense.
From Eliteprospects.com:
A big-bodied all-around forward that has good offensive instincts and excellent …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Report that there has been no contract talks with Spezza…yet

Here’s the thing about the current situation…
It’s created a lot of free time to negotiate re-signing players.
It’s created a lot of uncertainty about what should be done with free agents, especially some of the older ones.
That’s partially why it is both surprising and equally unsurprising that there haven’t been any discussions with Jason Spezza.

Jason Spezza tells @DavidAmber on-air that contract extension talks have not begun with Leafs. “I’d love to be back here again next year.”
— luke fox (@lukefoxjukebox) April 1, 2020
Spezza has had a nice bounce back year with 25 points in 58 games, definite step up from 27 in 76 last year and his 26 in 78 the year before. He was also accomplishing this with around 2 minutes less ice time per game than he was getting in Dallas. He has proven value as a bottom six piece to be slotted in where needed and can still provide tertiary scoring. He’s veteran presence and the Leafs have benefited from his experience, and at league minimum, he was good fit. Assuming he’ll take league minimum again, I don’t see why …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Zach Bogosian rumoured as a buy low option for the Leafs

Here’s the thing, I get it that Zach Bogosian isn’t high on the list of names that anyone is looking at to “fix” the Leafs blueline, but that doesn’t make these developments any less interesting…

Bogosian will be placed on unconditional waivers today. If he clears, his contract will be terminated and he will be free to sign with another club. Buffalo tried hard to trade him and was willing to retain 50% https://t.co/DyKmkgy8xh
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 21, 2020

Wouldn’t surprise me if the Leafs at least checked in on that. https://t.co/3i0fk3uBOi
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 21, 2020
I probably don’t need to do a whole lot on why adding a defenseman who had his contract terminated by a non-playoff team isn’t likely to be a surefire solution to what ails the Leafs, and I’m not fully sure I can talk myself into Bogosian being a good idea at all, but what Bogosian does allow for, is the opportunity to get Liljegren out of the pressbox and back to the Marlies if the intention isn’ …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation