It makes sense to move on from Jake Muzzin, but should the Maple Leafs do it?

$5.625 million — that’s the price the Maple Leafs will need to pay to keep Jake Muzzin around for the next two seasons.
Since Toronto was ousted out of the first round by the Lightning, there’s been a lot to break down. The feeling is usually different at this time of year — a lot of fans broken from yet another series loss. Not this season, though.
There’s not a lot to dissect from the playoffs. The Maple Leafs got beat by the better team, and yes, some would say Toronto was defeated by the referees too. But that’s neither here nor there.
This off-season brings a lot of decisions to the forefront. Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has to decide on the players he’d like to re-sign and maybe a few that he’d like to ship out for some much-needed cap space.
One of the first players that comes to mind is Petr Mrazek, who suffered an injury at three different points this season. The 30-year-old has a $3.8 million cap hit for the next two seasons and questions remain about his play and whether he can be good enough on a consistent basis.
Going down the list a bit longer and you’ll find yourself at Alex Kerfoot. He’s on the Maple Leafs’ books for the next two seasons at $3.5 million, but I wouldn’t be too …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Bringing back Mikheyev and Engvall vs. finding the next Mikheyev and Engvall

Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall are two Leafs of many that enjoyed career years (pessimistic voice: “a lot of good it did them) and to their good fortune, they now find themselves negotiating new contracts on the strength of those years. Both players are now regarded as not only premier penalty killers but viable threats to score when shorthanded, as Mikheyev had four shorthanded goals and Engvall had three shorthanded goals and one assist. Mikheyev’s 21 goals with time spent split between the second and third lines, and Engvall’s 15 goals produced bouncing between the third and fourth lines mean that they are potentially on the verge of going from strong depth to expensive depth, and with that comes the question of whether or not the Leafs see the value in these particular players or whether they see the value in wing depth that outperforms their contracts.
A big part of determining whether or not Mikheyev and Engvall will be reasonable options comes down to what their next contract could look like, so I figured it would be worthwhile to start looking at some comparable players. Here are the current NHL players aged 25-28 that produced between 15-25 goals, and 30-40 points. Obvious …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Maple Leafs make front office changes as Jim Paliafito, Cam Charron exit organization

According to The Leafs Nation’s own David Alter, the Toronto Maple Leafs have parted ways with Senior Director of Player Evaluation Jim Paliafito and Hockey Research and Development Analyst Cam Charron.

The #Leafs have made some changes in the front office:
Sr. Director, Player Evaluation Jim Paliafito and hockey research and development analyst Cam Charron are no longer with the club.
— David Alter (@dalter) May 24, 2022

Paliafito was hired in May 2015 by Brendan Shanahan after six years in the Saginaw Spirit organization, filling the position of Director of Player Evaluation. He was promoted to what was his current title as Senior Director of Player Evaluation in 2018 by Kyle Dubas.
Essentially, Paliafito has been Toronto’s highest-ranking scout for the better part of seven years. He was most notably pivotal in the Maple Leafs’ scouting and recruitment of European free agents, helping the Leafs land signings including Ilya Mikheyev and Nikita Zaitsev.
His departure from the organization makes it consecutive seasons in which the Maple Leafs will see significant changes in their scouting departments. Last year, both the Director of Amateur Scouting, John Lilley, and the Director of Pro Scouting, Troy Bodie, left the Leafs organization for roles with other NHL teams.
It remains to be seen whether Paliafito is leaving for a different role with another team or if this is the Leafs parting ways with Paliafito, but either way, this is a notable change early on in the Maple Leafs offseason.
Lilley and Bodie had their positions filled by promotions within the Leafs organization, as Eric Joyce and Wes Clark took over as Directors of Amateur and Pro Scouting. It will be fascinatin …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Toughness isn’t an issue for the Maple Leafs heading into next season

The Maple Leafs don’t have a toughness problem, and that’s clear after Monday night.
It was said that Toronto had a chance to close out their series against Tampa with two games, which is true. But what some don’t want to see is the fact that the Maple Leafs had that chance.
Looking at Monday night’s game where the Lightning eliminated the Florida Panthers, it was clear as day that one team had it and the other one didn’t. The Presidents Trophy-winning team was swept by the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.
It took the Lightning seven games to send the Maple Leafs packing for the year.
Toronto battled for every inch of that ice against Tampa and even some of the players said this series against the Maple Leafs was one of the hardest series’ yet. Players don’t just make that stuff up for the respect of an individual. This is hockey we’re talking about.
Looking at the Maple Leafs’ lineup after these playoffs and heading into next season, you’ll have players like Mark Giordano, Michael Bunting, Auston Matthews, Morgan Rielly, and TJ …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Erik Kallgren has set himself up to be in contention for the backup role for 2022-23

An area of concern for the Leafs to take care of this summer will almost certainly be the goaltending.
By most accounts, Jack Campbell appears to have priced himself out of Toronto and they will try and find a new home for Petr Mrazek after putting him on waivers at the deadline and not reinserting him for the playoffs once he was cleared to return. Meaning the goalie rotation is likely going to look very different by the time opening night rolls around.
Who emerges as the Leafs’ starter for the coming season remains unclear. It could end up being Campbell if he agrees to a hometown discount. Maybe it becomes an option in free agency that fulfills their needs such as Eric Comrie or Darcy Kuemper. Or the answer could be via a big trade, especially given the Leafs still have their first-round pick in hand and it could be used as part of a package to bring in an established netminder (ie: John Gibson).
The Leafs could go in any direction for who takes the mantel of the starting job, but they will not need to think too hard about who will be their backup. That is because Erik Kallgren has earned himself a longer look with the top club and is in contention to become their backup.

Forgot to post the Leafs reaction to Erik Kallgren’s shutout last night. pic.twitter.com/06PGe5vgc5
— Faizal Khamisa (@SNFaizalKhamisa) March 16, 2022

Kallgren was originally brought into the fold on a two-year entry-level contract and came with an impressive track record that made him an intriguing addition to …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Belief in the current group was No. 1 for Mark Giordano in re-signing with Maple Leafs

Mark Giordano could have made more money by signing with another club.
But having grossed well over $60 million in salary over the course of his NHL career, the Toronto-native opted to stay home by signing a two-year contract worth $1.6 million on Sunday with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
And while the lure of being home was a major factor in agreeing to terms, he made it clear several times that his belief in the team’s ability to contend for Stanley Cup was the top reason for signing in Toronto.
“First and foremost, I believe that this team is a contender and that was my first thought,” Giordano said in a Zoom conference with reporters on Monday. “But then all the rest that comes with it, me being from Toronto and it being a really good opportunity for my family.”
Giordano had his eye on becoming a Maple Leaf ever since it became clear that his previous team — the Seattle Kraken — were not bound for the playoffs. He was ultimately traded to the Leafs on Mar. 20 along with forward Colin Blackwell in exchange for a pair of second-round draft picks and a third-round draft choice.
In 20 games with the Maple Leafs, Giordano scored two goals and had 12 points. He fit in well on th …

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Author: David Alter / The Leafs Nation

Leaflets: Giordano signing is a great start, defensive offer sheets, and what’s next for Simmonds

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Leaflets post so rather than just simply doing one, I’ve decided to commit to this as a regular Monday thing going forward. Consider Leaflets a small dose of my correct bad opinions for you to get mad at. It seemed like it was going to be a quiet long weekend, but much to delight of everyone, Kyle Dubas showed he was hard at work getting a former Norris Trophy winner back at a bargain price, so let’s start there.
The Giordano signing is impossible to hate
I immediately regret that assessment, as there is a pocket of Leafs fans outraged over Jason Spezza being around at all despite making league minimum and still putting together stretches of productive hockey. I am confident someone while emerge to teach us why Mark Giordano at two years for $800k AAV is bad, but for now let’s focus on all the reasons it’s good including when we last saw Mark Giordano a few weeks ago he still seemed like a perfectly capable middle pairing, or stellar bottom pairing option for the blueline.
So first off, this is a player at the end of his career signaling to his teammates that he believes the Leafs provide him the best opportunity …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

5 Toronto Marlies that failed to meet expectations this season

The 2021/22 Toronto Marlies season was a disappointing one as the franchise missed the playoffs for the first time in a decade following a heartbreaking loss on the last day of the regular season.
Last week, I looked at the positive side of the season and identified five players that exceeded expectations for the year. You can check that one out here.
Today, though, we’re looking at the other side of things. As the Marlies missed the playoffs, there were players that failed to meet expectations and whose underwhelming performance partially contributed to the early end of the season.
Mikhail Abramov
Making the jump from the junior hockey level to the professional level is a huge step in a player’s career. Sometimes it goes smoothly, other times there is a bigger learning curve than anticipated.
For Mikhail Abramov, his season was much more of the latter. Coming into the season after winning the QMJHL championship in his final year of junior hockey, Abramov was expected to lock down a top nine position down the middle of the ice and provide a spark of offence for the Marlies.
While Abramov did remain in the top nine for a vast majority of the season, it was more so due to the Marlies’ lack of centres when the likes of Adam Brooks, Kirill Semyonov, and Michael Amadio all left the organization early in the season.
Finishing the year with seven goals and 28 points in 66 …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Mark Giordano agrees to a two-year extension with the Leafs

One-third of the Leafs’ major acquisitions at the 2022 Trade deadline will be remaining in Hog Town for the foreseeable future.

We’ve signed defenceman Mark Giordano to a two-year contract extension. #LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 22, 2022

The Leafs reported that Mark Giordano agreed to a two-year extension that carries an AAV of $800K.
Despite being in the twilight of his career, Giordano remains an effective defenceman putting up fairly consistent scoring numbers over the past half-decade and a steady presence on the backend. He is just three seasons removed from capturing his first career Norris Trophy after all.
He was taken by the Kraken in the 2021 Expansion Draft after spending the first 15 years of his career with the Flames. This past season saw him split time with Seattle and Toronto where he combined to score eight goals, 27 assists, and 35 points in 75 games played.
Giordano was acquired along with Colin Blackwell a day before the deadline in exchange for two second-round picks and a third-round pick.
More from TheLeafsNation.com
The best thing for John Tavares might be to play wing, but that opens up a big hole at center by Jon Steitzer
Maple Leafs and Kyle Dubas ‘need’ Marlies prospects to compete for NHL roster spots next season by Nick Barden
Maple Leafs would be ill-advised to make drastic changes despite yet another first-round exit by Kyle Cushman
POINTSBET IS LIVE IN ONTARIO

PointsBet Canada has officially launched in Ontario! Get more details right here! …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Why Nick Robertson is deserving of an extended look with the Maple Leafs this fall

The thing that Nick Robertson needs most is a full-time NHL gig and I think he’ll get that with the Maple Leafs next season.
After the 20-year-old returned from a four-month layoff due to injury, there was a different look to his game. Robertson seemed to be as confident as ever at a time when it just didn’t seem possible. Coming off an injury like a broken leg, there’s usually a period where a player is getting used to everything again.
Not Robertson, though.
The work that he and the Maple Leafs’ return-to-play staff did together allowed for Robertson to come back to the Marlies as good as ever. The 20-year-old averaged a point-per-game in his final 26 games of the season.
It wasn’t just the points that made Robertson stand out more this time around in the AHL. He seemed more confident with and without the puck, not forcing plays to come to him, but getting in better spots for better looks.
It also seemed like the 20-year-old got stronger on the puck while he was nursing his broken leg.
Robertson wasn’t getting pus …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation