Civil Discourse: What should the Maple Leafs do with their first-rounder this season?

Welcome to Civil Discourse, an article series where two TLN writers discuss a topic of interest rationally without resorting to personal insults. So basically the anti-Twitter.
Mark Norman
The Leafs have not drafted in the first round with their own pick since 2018 when they selected Rasmus Sandin at #29 (and even then, they traded down from #25 to make the pick). In 2019 they moved their first-rounder in the Jake Muzzin deal, in 2020 they moved it to Carolina to get out from under Patrick Marleau’s albatross contract, and in 2021 they traded it for Nick Foligno which… did not go as planned.
The Leafs, therefore, have not gotten much benefit from trading first-rounders over the last two seasons. This understandably has some fans shy about the Leafs continuing to spend high-end draft capital to improve their roster. For other fans, the time is now: Auston Matthews is only signed for two more seasons after this year and they feel pressure to go all-in every year while he’s in his prime. Where do you land on this, Jon?
Jon Steitzer
If the Leafs are going to truly upgrade at the trade deadline this season and not just simply shuffle deckchairs, it seems reasonable to discuss Toronto’s first, and admittedly I lack a straightforward answer on this.
Primarily I look at the fact that the Leafs are in tough no matter what. Their path out of the Atlantic involves Florida and Tampa and while that isn’t going to change next year, it does make me risk-averse about spending important assets like a first-round pick for what on its own is valued around 10 games of Nick Foligno.
(On a side no …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

Marlies Mailbag: Erik Källgren’s NHL future, Nick Robertson’s return, and the emergence of Bobby McMann

Welcome to another edition of the Toronto Marlies Mailbag!
Looking back at the Marlies season before the break, things didn’t feel right. This team, although with a few injuries, was entering this season with a lot of excitement around them. Toronto was 10-9-1-1 prior to the COVID pause, which saw 24 players get the virus.
Now they’re back, and the team looks different.
What I mean by that is the Marlies look like the team they were supposed to be at the start of the season. Why they look like that now is another question.
“Just that they’re working really hard towards getting better every day,” said Marlies head coach, Greg Moore, on what’s stood out about the team most since the COVID pause. “You’ve seen it in the gameplay trending that way. Their preparation and routine before games and in practice is getting stronger and more consistent, and it’s turning into what we’re seeing in the games. And in return, you’re seeing more confident puck play because of these routines that the guys are building off themselves.”
Since returning from the break, the Marlies are 3-1, most recently beating Utica, the AHL’s best team. It was only the …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

BJN Radio – Ep. 58: The Minor League Grind with Cleveland prospect Erik Sabrowski

Welcome back!

Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association are still nowhere near a Collective Bargaining Agreement so there isn’t much to for us talk about.
We took a look back at some points of interest from the month of December, which, most notably, boiled down to a discussion about Pete Walker potentially leaving Toronto for a managerial gig with the New York Mets. We also looked at some free agent fits lists that came out over the past week and what the Blue Jays might do once the lockout ends.
After that, we welcomed Cleveland Guardians prospect, first-round Minor League Rule 5 Draft Pick, and Good Edmonton Boy Erik Sabrowski to the show to talk about getting drafted, life in the minors, and a whole bunch more!
You can listen to the episode here…

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Author: Cam Lewis / Blue Jays Nation

Tunesday: High hopes, new energy and a great Leafs November

Welcome, all to our third instalment of Tunesday! If you’re new around here this is the article where I dissect 5-7 songs that describe how the leafs played In the two weeks prior, for this edition, it’s three. It is a companion piece to the Not Enough of Blue playlist which is available everywhere you stream your music. As always it will be linked at the end of the article. Keeping with the theme of our second edition it’s an overall good vibe. The Toronto Maple Leafs feel different this year and their play up until now has proved it. 12-2-0 in November, 7 straight road wins, another California sweep, this team is doing amazing things right now. Let’s take a look at some music that reflects that. 
 
Up first we have the classic that is Dream On – Aerosmith. This song in particular represents the tough times that Aerosmith once went through. So although they were just beginning and obviously not succeeding musically, not selling albums and such. This song was a way for them to hold themselves accountable. This was a way of saying hold on to the feeling and the passion that drives you, …

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Author: Marsha Joseph / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs Nation Power Rankings: Depth, Defence, and Dominance

What’s going on, Toronto? Welcome to my weekly Top 5 Power Rankings! Each week I’ll be sharing my favourite moment of the week around the Maple Leafs. These moments could be hockey related, feel good moments, Twitter interactions, basically anything that stands out. Each new article will be released on Sunday’s and be sure to let me know what moments YOU think should be added in my Top 5.
Got it? Good! Let’s start.
5 – Canada Soccer 
Now I know that Canada Soccer has nothing to do with the NHL, the Maple Leafs or even Toronto but Canadian history was made this week and it needs to be talked about. 
Okay, onto the good stuff! Did you know that the last time the Canadian men’s soccer team beat Mexico in a World Cup Qualifying match was in 1976? Well, that all changed on November 16, 2021 at Commonwealth Stadium also known as “Iceteca” when John Herdman and company smashed a 45 year old record.
As much as the storyline was about breaking records and World Cup qualification, mother nature also wanted in on the action. With a massive snowstorm hitting the night before, both teams woke up with a big match to …

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Author: Caroline Szwed / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: Top prospects called up but team keeps rolling

Welcome back to the second in-season Report from the Rock, the column of news and notes from the team at the top of the ECHL standings, the Newfoundland Growlers. I’m a day late on this one, so we’ll cover the stories that have come out of games 6-11 in this edition, let’s dive right in.
On Friday, the Toronto Marlies called goaltender and early-season MVP Keith Petruzzelli up to the AHL, I wrote about him and what the call-up means here, if you’re so inclined to check it out. Add that in to the recall of Noel Hoefenmayer last week and suddenly the team is without some of the bigger names in the prospect pool who have been honing their skills here in the ECHL.
I’m of two minds about this. On the one hand, both call-ups are extremely well-deserved, as both Hoefenmayer and Petruzzelli had vastly outplayed the competition in their games as Growlers. However, while Petruzzelli’s call-up was also made in necessity due to the injury in net for the Marlies, I’m not sure if the early season call-up is the best move for the development of these players. Is Hoefenmayer …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Tunesday: Guess who’s back? A winning Leafs team

Tunesday: Guess who’s back? A winning Leafs team

Welcome back to another edition of Tunesday, the article that goes along with the Not Enough of Blue playlist! For those of you who are new, Not Enough of Blue is a playlist curated based on the performance of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past two weeks. Right off the bat, it’s going to be a lot happier this time around. Their performance overall has been next level. They’ve been moving the puck more, creating chances, scoring more goals, the list goes on. With the good vibes going around, let’s get into the music.
 
In our second edition, we have six great songs in store for you. As always feel free to listen while you read. Both the Apple Music and Spotify versions of the playlist will be embedded/linked at the end of this piece. 
 
To sum up the feeling from the beginning of this two-week period we begin with “Send My Love (To Your New Lover) – Adele. Before you ask, yes, it is about losing to Freddie Andersen. In our bones we knew our loss to him was destiny, but it was still painful. Truthfully it can even relate to him not re-signing with …

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Author: Marsha Joseph / The Leafs Nation

Report from the Rock: Growlers undefeated through first five games

Welcome to the first in-season Report from the Rock, we’ll be recapping the headlines from the Newfoundland Growlers’ first five games of the 2021-22 season and analyzing some key members of the squad to keep an eye on.
As you see in the headline, the biggest story coming out of Newfoundland is that the team hasn’t lost a single game so far and a big part of that is the reigning ECHL Goaltender of the Month, Keith Petruzzelli, who put up two 35-save performances in his first appearances with the club. The 22-year old added a third win last night in the home opener to start off the month of November on the right foot.
Taking a look at the skaters now, forwards Zach O’Brien, Ryan Chyzowski and Marc Johnstone, as well as defencemen Noel Hoefenmayer, Brennan Kapcheck, and captain James Melindy have appeared in all five games, which is impressive considering the minutes these players have logged and the fact that the team’s opening road trip included games on three consecutive nights.
O’Brien has picked up right where he left off when the Growlers’ 2019-20 season ended, he’s a point-per-game player so far …

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Author: Dylan Murphy / The Leafs Nation

Tunesday: the Leafs beginning we kinda saw coming

Welcome everyone to the first regular-season edition of the Not Enough of Blue playlist! This one is short and sweet but encapsulates the fan feelings well. Beginning to the end of these first two weeks, the outcome was predicted by many. Everything is linked down below, so feel free to listen while you read!
After what felt like forever without fans and real cheering, the time has come for a new reality. Fans are back and their presence, as well as their energy, can breathe new life into this team. First up and representing our home opener we have Applause-Lady Gaga.

“I live for the applause, applause, applause
I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause
Live for the way that you cheer and scream for me
The applause, applause, applause”

Morgan Rielly is ready to feel all the good feelings again. Truly I think we all live for the applause. We are 100% ready to see this team dominate, and they should be ready to hustle.
In the chorus, Lady Gaga sings,

“Give me that thing that I love (I’ll turn the lights out)
Put your hands up, make ’em touch, touch (Make it real loud)
Give me …

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Author: Marsha Joseph / The Leafs Nation

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes in the Leafs roster, by counting stats

Welcome to Staturday, the column where we talk about stats on Saturday. Today, we’ll get into an overall look at last year’s team totals vs. what the 2021-22 roster did in 2020-21. Basically, we’re going to see if the Leafs should expect to have more or less of all of the basic counting stats. By doing so, we’ll see in what areas the 2021-22 roster should be better or worse than the 2020-21 roster.
I approached this same concept via the Goals Above Replacement model by Evolving Hockey in a previous Staturday column, so check that out here.
All of the stats below will be from Evolving Hockey, and will be at Even Strength, with no adjustments.
Last Year’s Leafs

Player
Season
Team
Position
GP
TOI
G
Points
iSF
iFF
iCF
ixG
Sh%
iBLK
GIVE
TAKE
iHF
iHA
iPEN±
FO±

Morgan Rielly
20-21
TOR
D
55
1078.95
4
21
74
109
160
3.61
5.41
54
64
18
60
132
-5
0

Tj Brodie
20-21
TOR
D
56
1053.38
1
11
40
62
96
1.58
2.5
75
45
19
28
99
0
0

Justin Holl
20-21
TOR
D
55
984.1
2
17
52
75
109
2.2
3.85
60
33
14
72
126
-1
0

Jake Muzzin
20-21
TOR
D
53
950.8
2
22
86
115
169
2.85
2.33
68
49
19
91
138
-5
0

Mitch Marner
20-21
TOR
C
55
904.07
17
47
108
143
195
11.6
15.74
34
53
42
19
45
-1
-1

Auston Matthews
20-21
TOR
C
52
889
30
49
167
225
260
18.11
17.96
40
42
40
56
57
7
34

John Tavares
20-21
TOR
C
56
831.3
12
33
119
155
196
12.8
10.08
27
49
30
44
75
9
62

William Nylander
20-21
TOR
C
51
697.93
11
27
100
137
167
11.37
11
15
33
29
12
61
1
2

Alex Kerfoot
20-21
TOR
C
56
674.1
6
18
59
77
100
6.41
10.17
28
25
14
38
115
3
-43

Ilya Mikheyev
20 …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation