The official launch of The Leafs Nation Radio Podcast

Today, we are incredibly happy to announce the launch of The Leafs Nation Radio Podcast!
Whether it be storylines, players, trending topics, rumours, sharing our pain and agony, the list goes on, The Leafs Nation Radio Podcast has you covered. Host Caroline Szwed joins the TLN team of Nick Barden, Nick Richard, Mike Mazzei, Roxanne Khasow and Mer to kick off our first ever season. Brace yourselves because there’s so much more to come!
Podcasts will be coming out on Mondays every week!
Both the pilot episode and first official episode have been released today. Currently, it’s only on Spotify, but in good time we’ll have it on Apple Podcasts as well as YouTube (so you can see our faces)!
We hope you enjoy it, and we’re excited to start the newest podcast at The Nation Network!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews is on schedule to return for opening night

About a month ago, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews underwent successful wrist surgery after dealing with a nagging injury throughout the season. It’s honestly crazy that Matthews was playing with basically one wrist at points of last season and still ended up leading the NHL in goals with 41 and ultimately winning his first Rocket Richard. In all seriousness, we’re all glad he got the surgery to help his wrist because clearly, it was bothering him at points last season when he sat out multiple games at once and it also affected his playoff performance as well.
It’s being reported by Luke Fox of Sportsnet that the Maple Leafs forward sat down for a recording with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek for their newest 31 Thoughts podcast episode that is releasing in the near future and he explained that he is well on track to return by opening night to face the Montreal Canadiens.
 

Auston Matthews’ left wrist is on track to be operational for Opening Night with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ star saying he’s “definitely not worried about it” during a recording of the 31 Thoughts podcast. (By @lukefoxjukebox) https://t.co/XUzT2bQ2tZ
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 13, 2021



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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

What left wingers should play in the top-6?

Few things are abundantly agreeable in Leafs Nation, but one of those few is that our top two centres are Auston Matthews at one and John Tavares at two. Another almost certainly agreeable fact is that our top two right wingers are Mitch Marner at one and William Nylander at two.
With four of the top six forwards decided, it should be easy to pencil in the first and second line coming into this season, and yet, it definitely is not easy.
Today’s goal will be looking at some potential combinations for those lines by examining what the Leafs have at left wing depth and how they might fit in with those 4 core forwards previously mentioned.
Nick Robertson
The first and most fun option is Nick Robertson, the Leafs late second round selection in 2019 who obviously should have been a first round pick. Roberston so far has not had a decent run in the lineup for Toronto at the NHL level, but has 10 games under his belt so far, including 4 playoff games.
Robertson is a pure scorer at this point, whose hard working nature goes into setting up great scoring opportunities for his team. However, he’ll need to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

TLN Top 20 Leafs: #20 Pierre Engvall

It’s time to kick start our Top 20 Leafs countdown. And to start it off we’ve got a player that we as Leafs fans have generally underrated since day one. Pierre Engvall was a 7th round pick. He then took four years to make it North America, all the while he had a hard time cracking our top twenty prospect list. Now here he is coming in at the bottom of the Leafs roster rankings. On one hand it’s amazing that he’s here, but on the other hand maybe we’re still not giving him as much respect as he deserves compared to some of the other players on this list.
When it came to ranking Engvall, there was a pretty significant range on him. One of our contributors had him as the Leafs 13th best player, some had him ranked exactly where he’s at, and 4 contributors left him off their rankings completely. Somehow all of this seems fair.
Five Interesting Stats
S%
GF%
TOI w/Mikheyev
SH TOI
Career GWG/G
11.5
54.05
282.5
22:50
26.7%
So here’s the thing on Pierre Engvall, he’s billed as a defensive specialist. Still, his 7 goals in 42 games is solid offensive production …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Notes and quotes from Day 2 of the Leafs development camp

 
Day 2 of the Toronto Maple Leafs development camp is in the books.
The halfway point of development camp was marked by the first of two scrimmages to take place during the four-day event, as well as media availabilities from Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Pavel Gogolev, and Ty Voit.
I’m not sure why, but unlike years past the scrimmage between Team Blue and Team White was not live-streamed and no game recap has been posted. Instead, we got select clips on the Maple Leafs Twitter feed, of which not even each goal was shared.
Regardless, here are the highlights we did actually get from the first scrimmage of development camp, a 5-4 victory for Team White:
Team White Goal, 1-0: Jacob Guevin (No highlight)
Team Blue Goal, 1-1: Nick Robertson from Braeden Kressler

@nickrobertson01 sneaks one home pic.twitter.com/l626BcOcyG
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 11, 2021

Team White Goal, 2-1: Jordan Frasca (No highlight)
Team White Goal, 3-1: Alex Steeves from Pavel Gogolev

Gogolev with the dish, Steeves with the finish pic.twitter.com/hbq4IRHoI2
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) September 11, 2021

Team White Goal, 4-1: Lukas Gustafsson from Jacob Guevin

Lukas Gustafsson gettin’ nifty pic.twitter.com/BmWXFqsqoZ
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@ …

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Author: Kyle Cushman / The Leafs Nation

Evaluating the Leafs’ 2021 free agent signings by projected contract value

The Leafs, like every other team in the NHL, went into the 2021 offseason hoping to improve their team. There are many ways to evaluate if they acheived their goal: one of those is by regular counting stats; another way would be by Wins Above Replacement.
Another way is to build a model to project what a player should be getting paid on their contract, and see if the Leafs’ new signings are underpaid or overpaid. Of course, I’m not smart enough to do that, so we’ll use the contract projection models of others, specifically Evolving Hockey and Dobber Hockey.
Toronto did make a number of changes this offseason, but instead of comparing the additions (players who joined) to the subtractions (players who aren’t returning) like in the previous posts I linked above, today is only about the the contracts that the Leafs signed. Specifically, it’s about whether those new additions, and the other players Toronto re-signed, have contracts that are a positive value.
As we well know, in the salary cap era, it’s as important to identify good players as it is to manage their cap hit. We also know that while Dubas and company …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Recapping TLN’s 2021 Leafs prospect rankings

Over the last few weeks, we here at The Leafs Nation have been counting down the top-20 prospects in the Leafs’ organization as voted on by our team of writers, as well as a couple of outside contributors familiar with Toronto’s system. Our countdown reached it’s conclusion on Friday with Rasmus Sandin taking over the #1 spot after Nicholas Robertson had held that honour a year ago.
A handful of players made their debuts in our prospect rankings this year, including 2021 second-round pick Matthew Knies coming in at #7 and undrafted free agent signing Pavel Gogolev landing the #15 spot. The Leafs’ didn’t graduate anyone from the 2020 list but last year’s #5 prospect Filip Hallander was dealt back to Pittsburgh earlier in the offseason, vacating a spot in the top-five.
Our biggest risers from a year ago include a pair of players who were honourable mentions for the 2020 list in St. Cloud State winger Veeti Miettinen and Sibir Novosibirsk forward Dmitri Ovchinnikov. Miettinen racked up plenty of accolades during a tremendous freshman season in the NCAA and Ovchinnikov torched Russia’s junior league, earning a look in the KHL as an 18-year-old. After impressive draft+1 seasons, Topi Niemelä and Roni …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: #2 Nick Robertson

Coming second on this year’s Top 20 Leafs Prospects list is last year’s #1, Nicholas Robertson.
Robertson, who torched the Ontario Hockey League for more than a goal-per-game in 2019-20, came into the 2020-21 season with a lot of hype and excitement surrounding him. Leafs fans were encouraged to see him keep his head above water in his first NHL stint as he joined the Leafs for their play-in series against Columbus.
Evaluating Robertson’s 2020-21 campaign was challenging, as he had a tough time stringing together long stretches of play between injuries, the Marlies’ COVID hiatus, and spending time watching the Leafs from the press box. When he played, his talent was still noticeable, the work ethic was still abundantly apparent, and he still showed a knack for blowing pucks past goaltenders. However, he played just 27 games of professional hockey last year, which did not give us much runway to work with to assess his progression.
Position: Left Forward
Age: 19 (20 on September 11)
Height: 5’9
Weight: 164 lbs
Drafted: 53rd Overall, 2019 NHL Draft by The Toronto Maple Leafs
2020-21 Teams: Toronto Marlies, AHL (21GP) | Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL (6GP)
2020 Prospect Ranking: #1
Overview
Robertson, an undersized forward at 5-foot-9, was selected midway through …

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Author: Mark Norman / The Leafs Nation

The 2021 Top 20 Leafs Prospects: #3 Rodion Amirov

On August 25th, 2020, the Toronto Maple Leafs sent Kasperi Kapanen, Pontus Aberg, and Jesper Lindgren to the Penguins for three players, and the 15th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Those players have all come and gone, but with that pick the Leafs selected LW Rodion Amirov. It’s the highest Toronto has drafted since selecting Auston Matthews 1st overall in 2016, a pick they couldn’t afford to miss on.
So far, it’s been a hit. After being drafted Amirov would finish out the 20-21 KHL season with 13 points in 39 games, more than any other player in their true draft+1 that year. He also led Russia in points at the World Juniors, wearing the “A” on his chest. When playing against his age group, Amirov just exudes excellence with the puck on his stick. Even at the pro level, he plays as if he is entitled to possessing the puck before his opponent.
Position: LW
Age: 19
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 168 Lbs
Drafted: 2020 1st Round, 15th Overall
2020-21 Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL
2020 Prospect Ranking: 3rd
I wrote two articles ahead of that draft mentioning Amirov, first about the handful of 20-21 KHL games he played before the draft:
We …

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Author: Earl Schwartz / The Leafs Nation

Marlies who could make the Leafs opening night roster

Marlies who could make the Leafs opening night roster

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a packed roster. Period.
After signing players like Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie and Michael Bunting, the chances of players from the Marlies coming up and starting the season with the Leafs is very small. However, there’s always a small window that comes in training camp where players could steal a spot on the roster.
As it stands right now, I’d say that Bunting and Ritchie are playing in the top-six, with one being on Auston Matthews’ wing and the other on John Tavares’. And while things can change, I’d like to believe that Mitch Marner and William Nylander are still on their same wings as last season.
There is always a possibility that Sheldon Keefe comes in and shakes things up. But for now, I think the Leafs lineup will look like this:
Bunting-Matthews-Marner
Ritchie-Tavares-Nylander
Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Kase
Kampf-Spezza-Simmonds
Rielly-Brodie
Muzzin-Holl
Sandin-Dermott
Marlies who could make the jump
Last season, the Leafs had plenty of players in their development system who were more than worthy of NHL gigs. It’s just so difficult because Kyle Dubas likes to continuously add depth in case of injury. I do want to clarify that it’s not …

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation