What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

What’s going right and what’s going wrong for the Leafs a quarter of the way through the season

The Leafs season has reached the quarter mark, and it’s been quintessentially Leafy. The Leafs stunk up October, reminded us that they are for real in November, and along the way have had five of their key defensemen and both of their NHL goaltenders miss a significant amount of time. In the spirit of the season being 1/4 over, I’ve asked the TLN crew what is their biggest positive and negative of the season so far. Here are their answers.
Scott Ony
The biggest positive for me has been the play of John Tavares. I expected him to be a massive disappointment this season but he has been a pleasant surprise and is on pace for his most points since his first season in Toronto. I thought the speed of the game would pass him by but he just does all the little things right and continues to rack up the points.
Although he has played fairly well in his four games the biggest disappointment is Matt Murray. Who would have thought a goalie who hasn’t made more than 30 starts since 2019-20 would run into injury issues? If he can somehow manage to stay healthy the move to acquire him might look okay but at this point, it’s a huge miss.
Bennett Jull
The b …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

What could Conor Timmins bring, and is he a good gamble?

Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes completed a one for one trade. The Leafs sent Curtis Douglas to the desert, and got back Conor Timmins.
Douglas has played 13 games this year with the Marlies, contributing 1 assist and racking up 30 penalty minutes. He is a well documented giant, standing at 6’9. His ceiling with the Leafs was a 4th line centre, and he probably never had the skating to get there. Douglas was very well liked in the dressing room, and was a consummate pro throughout his time with the Marlies. I wish him the very best.
Now, let’s get to Conor Timmins. First, we should examine why Kyle Dubas is taking a chance, and what makes this such a good gamble. Before Timmins played in the NHL or AHL, he was a member of the Soo Greyhounds (go figure). He joins a lengthy list of Leafs to have played in Sault Ste. Marie, and was even a d-partner of one Rasmus Sandin.
Timmins was the first pick of the 2nd round back in 2017, going 32nd overall to Colorado. He was also a member of the Canadian World Junior team in 2018 where he won Gold, and led the tournament in plus/minus. He has also …

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Author: Bennett Jull / The Leafs Nation

Luke Schenn might make sense for the Toronto Maple Leafs at the deadline

The Toronto Maple Leafs are bound to be buyers by the time the trade deadline rolls around this season, and defence may be an area that the team looks to address before the final push towards the playoffs.
It’s been a month since veteran blueliner Jake Muzzin left the Leafs’ 4-2 loss to the Arizona Coyotes with a neck injury, with the Toronto Maple Leafs announcing that the 33-year-old is out indefinitely with a cervical spine injury and will be re-evaluated in February. This leaves the Leafs without one of their best defensive players for at the very least a significant chunk of the season, if he even returns at all.
The Leafs have managed fairly well in Muzzin’s absence, with a 6-3-3 record since, but with recent injuries to both Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov, as well as the potential for another significant injury along the blueline, with T.J. Brodie currently also on IR, the team will undoubtedly have one eye on the potential to add another body at some stage.
A situation such as this is likely to throw up all kinds of names, such as the aforementioned Coyotes’ wantaway Jakob Chychrun, who himself is currently sidelined with a wrist injury. Alternatively, a reunion with a former Leaf could be on many people’s mind, and this could very well be the case for Luke Schenn.
Schenn recently appeared on the Nation Network’s Leafs Morning Take ahead of the Vancouver Canucks’ trip to Toronto, where they suffered a 3-2 loss to the Leafs, …

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Author: James Reeve / The Leafs Nation

Keith Petruzzelli: What to expect

Keith Petruzzelli: What to expect

Another year of Maple Leafs hockey, another year of the injury bug causing goaltending issues.
With all of Ilya Samsonov, Matt Murray, and Joseph Woll at various phases of recovering from injury, the Leafs have been forced to lean on their depth. Erik Källgren, who saw some time with the Leafs last season, has filled in as starter, with mixed results.
The goaltender that intrigues me, however, is the acting backup Keith Petruzzelli. I wrote in my goaltending primer earlier this year that Petruzzelli would “have to have some degree of AHL success this season” in order to continue being considered an NHL prospect. And a degree of success he has had. Through six games with the Marlies so far, Petruzzelli is 6-0-0 with a .922 save percentage. This strong play, coupled with the Leafs’ injury issues, resulted in him signing his first NHL contract on November 6th.

Some Keith Petruzzelli highlights from this season. The 6-foot-6 netminder is 6-0-0 and has a .922 SV% with the Marlies. Coming off of a strong first professional season with the @NLGrowlers pic.twitter.com/09g3cj1WzB
— Kyle Cushman (@Kyle_Cush) November 6, 2022

To go from starting in the ECHL to earning an NHL contract within a year, injuries or not, is very significant. I spoke with TLN’s Dylan Murphy (@dylanmurphy329 on Twitter) who covers the Growlers for the site about him, and he praised Petruzzelli’s work ethic and positive attitude. Further, Dylan spoke with Growlers head coach Kyle Wellwood, who echoed that sentiment, saying that “[the organization] always said he was a gamer, he just had to learn to be a pro …

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Author: Colin Hunter / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews stands up for himself and shows his winning smile, chaos ensues

Auston Matthews stands up for himself and shows his winning smile, chaos ensues

The Leafs desperately needed a good result to get themselves back on track and they got exactly that on Wednesday night.
While it was against a Flyers team who played the previous night, Toronto did almost everything you could ask of them throughout the 60 minutes. Ilya Samsonov made some quality saves when he had to, John Tavares put the team on his back with an inspiring performance, and the bottom six played well while also getting rewarded with a goal from Zach Aston-Reese.
The power-play showed signs of being more creative and they turned it into two tallies. Although the Leafs took six infractions on the night, they killed off five of them and were much more sound down a man.
It was a game that was desperately needed with the temperature in the fanbase at a boiling point, which should help the team feel better about themselves as they prepare to take on the red-hot Bruins on Saturday. Theoretically, should be nothing to complain about with a game in which the Leafs were clearly the better team all night long.
As is always the case, people will find something to nitpick with the Leafs. In this case, many were upset at Auston Matthews for not really engaging with Travis Konecny near the end of the game.

Mark Giordano didn’t like that 🥊 pic.twitte …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

Rumours: The Leafs interest in Bear, keeping an eye on the Canucks, and more

Rumours: The Leafs interest in Bear, keeping an eye on the Canucks, and more

The Leafs have been just average enough that it’s time to dust off the weekly rumours column and rosterbate until our very souls are chafed. Yesterday we got the ball rolling with the somewhat (read: very) impractical idea of trading for Jakob Chychrun, and today we’ll shift gears towards a far more practical option.
Ethan Bear to the Leafs?
Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek opined on the Carolina Hurricanes defenseman who has been sitting so far this season. He wants to play, there has been a trade request, and Carolina is actively trying to move him and of course, whenever there is a right shot defenseman the Leafs are bound to be one of the teams that are speculated on.
Bear is a personal favourite of mine. Living in Edmonton, I had a chance to watch him a lot and think he’s been underutilized by the Canes because they are simply too deep on their blueline. If he had stayed in Edmonton, he’d probably be playing in the top four and that means he averages out to being a pretty darn good right shot option on the third pairing.
Friedman makes it clear that the Hurricanes aren’t interested in a lousy return or retaining salary in order to make a Bear trade happen and in fact that waivers might even be more appealing than an AHL grab bag.
The Leafs cou …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs need to improve their mentality to become tough by committee

The Leafs need to improve their mentality to become tough by committee

When it comes to the playstyle of the Leafs, one thing that consistently gets brought up in terms of an area of weakness is the lack of the team being tough to play against.
Meaning that players on the Leafs can be cross-checked, high-sticked, or slashed and their teammates will not put up much resistance to let the opposition know that they won’t get off scot-free.
It is true that the Leafs are among the leaders in hits to begin the 2022-23 season as they currently sit third with 149 behind only the Predators and Capitals. Much of that has to do with new additions like Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Zach Aston-Reese, and some of the mainstays like Rasmus Sandin and Auston Matthews.
It’s a good place to start, but dishing out hits is not the only thing that defines team toughness. A big part is sticking up for your guys when one of them gets hit or standing up for yourself. This is something that the Leafs have struggled with on a consistent basis for years and do not have enough players that instinctively stand up for themselves, support their teammates, and protect the crease to prevent the screen.
It is for this reason that you hear a significant portion of the fanbase complain about how the Leafs do not hav …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

A nihilist’s season preview for the Leafs

A nihilist’s season preview for the Leafs

Here we are at the Leafs first game of the season. In many ways, this feels like it should be a meaningful day, but frankly, it hits just about the same as the start of the preseason. I’ll tune in. I write about the Leafs, so I should probably watch them play, but I don’t know if there is much excitement that comes from committing to a season that is about 20 games too long and will ultimately get us to the same place, the Leafs will finish somewhere in the top three in their division, and somehow 4th or 5th in the league, and then something will finally be put on the line as we see if the Leafs are now 19 years removed from a second round appearance or if the mocking of the Leafs needs to revert to the standard 1967 reminder that admittedly I’m far more comfortable with.
That’s not to say that there aren’t storylines to care about with the regular season. Whether Kyle Dubas was active enough for you or not in the offseason, the fact that he’s given Toronto two new goaltenders to hastily develop misinformed opinions on is a bit of a blessing. Last year the g …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Denis Malgin could be the late bloomer the Toronto Maple Leafs need

Denis Malgin could be the late bloomer the Toronto Maple Leafs need

Denis Malgin’s place on the Toronto Maple Leafs roster is assured, and he could be the late bloomer that the team needs to help take the next steps.
It may be difficult to picture a player with 192 NHL games under their belt as having the potential to be a late bloomer, with the majority of players with that much experience already firmly set in where they are in their career. That, however, seems to be the case with Swiss forward Denis Malgin, who is back for a second stint with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Malgin was originally selected in the fourth round (102nd overall) by the Florida Panthers in the 2015 Draft, having spent his draft year playing primarily in the top two tiers of hockey in his native Switzerland. He spent a further year in the Swiss leagues before bringing his talents over to North America, where he played in both the AHL with the Springfield Thunderbirds and NHL with the Panthers.
From there, Malgin made 184 appearances for the Panthers in essentially a bottom-six role, averaging 12:38 while on the ice and registering all 60 (28 goals, 32 assists) of his career points before finding himself traded to the …

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Author: James Reeve / The Leafs Nation

Some way too early training camp analysis: Leaflets

The Leafs have played two preseason games in a split squad series, so now seems like as good a time as any to start talking in absolutes about who sucks and who should be on Tavares’ wing, right?
No. Okay, well, I’ll do my best to get through this post without reading anything into the games played and instead focus more on what’s to come and what we can potentially takeaway from the camp as a whole so far.
Cuts without actual cuts

Keefe sees today as “the end of training camp” with a day off tomorrow, new practice assignments and emphasis on regular season prep starting Monday.
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) September 25, 2022

This was one of the more interesting quotes following the preseason games, and should give us a good understanding of the direction the Leafs are going in. Keefe followed up that cuts weren’t imminent, and that makes sense as well. The AHL camps aren’t open yet, and it’s still nice to have some tryhards around to work the likely roster players against.
I’d suspect we see two very different groups for the Leafs in camp tomorrow, one that mirrors what we’ve seen from the Leafs in previous camps. We’ll see the players likely bound for the Leafs top six put together and paired with more defensively minded players bound for the Marlies, and in the second group, we’ll see the third and fourth line locks put with the offensively skilled AHL group.
The preliminary days of camp likely helped connect the dots that Jarnkrok should be playing with the top six group, Malgin should be put in a spot where he can best compete for an NHL job, …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation