Leafs assistant coach Dave Hakstol is the head coach of the Seattle Kraken (updated)

During Saturday Headlines it was reported that the Leafs assistant coaches might be pursuing better opportunities elsewhere, and today we’re getting a bit of an idea around Dave Hakstol’s better opportunity…

One name that has surfaced as a possibility for the head coach job with expansion Seattle is that of Dave Hakstol, the former Flyers HC who was assistant coach with the Maple Leafs this past season….@TSNHockey @TheAthletic
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 24, 2021

Kraken expected to name their first coach today. Hearing it is not Rick Tocchet. They’ve kept us guessing, but among other recent interviews whose name has not been out there: TOR assistant Dave Hakstol.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 24, 2021

Darren Dreger added that “all signs are pointing to this” and Chris Johnston has noted that there were multiple interviews between Hakstol and the Kraken, so basically by the time I finish writing this sentence, I expect that it will be have made official.
Hakstol has been largely responsible for the Leafs defense turnaround in the past couple of seasons, and as a former head coach of both the Flyers and the University of North Dakota, it seemed likely that he would try to find a …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

TJ Brodie was everything he was asked to be

In the not-so-distant past, the Toronto Maple Leafs had garnered the reputation of being something of a, to put it bluntly, complete dumpster fire defensively. Be it the ever looming narratives surround the likes of Jake Gardiner, or just the complete lack of defensive prowess that came with the likes of Cody Ceci, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey, Roman Polak, or Matt Hunwick (you know, just to name a few,) the Leafs backend more often than not was a glaring liability over the better part of the last decade, and up until recently, the addition of blossoming superstars like Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner didn’t seem to change the front offices motives to address the defense (or ability to recognize good defensive talent, however you want to look at it.)
It wasn’t until the 2019 trade deadline when Kyle Dubas swung a trade for Los Angeles’ Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin that the Leafs added truly top tier defensive upgrade, and it was the Leafs first step in the process of overhauling what once was a blight on the team to a source of strength, a process that culminated last offseason when free agency opened and the Leafs added …

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Author: Brian Reid / The Leafs Nation

Rasmus Sandin is ready to take the next step with the Leafs

Rasmus Sandin took Leafs Nation by storm after being selected in the 2018 NHL draft, starring on the international stage for Sweden while showing he could be an impact player in the American Hockey League, and even seeing significant NHL action as a teenager. The last year and a half, however, has been difficult for Sandin and he has missed out on precious development time due to the pandemic and a foot injury that kept him on the shelf for over two months once the AHL finally returned to play.
At the outset of the 2020-21 campaign, it appeared as though the young defenseman would be in contention for a role on the Leafs’ third pairing but he was unable to surpass Travis Dermott and prized European free agent signing Mikko Lehtonen on the depth chart coming out of training camp. He got into just a single game, seeing only five minutes of ice time, before the organization decided he would be better served playing heavy minutes with the Marlies as he continued to work towards earning a regular spot in the NHL lineup.
The move made sense given that single outing with the Leafs was the first meaningful hockey Sandin …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

Auston Matthews cemented himself as one of the best in the league

For years, Leafs fans have been singing the praises of Auston Matthews, the big star on the team, and how he should be considered one of the best in the league, both for his insane shooting and finishing ability, but also for the rise of his all-around game over the last few years.
This year was finally the year he got the recognition as one of the best in the league. He exploded for 41 goals in a shortened season, leading the league by 8 goals and finished tied for fifth in points despite missing four games as well. He ended up with the Rocket Richard trophy, and nominations for the Lady Bing, Ted Lindsay, and Hart Trophy.
He was on a whole other level that even Leafs fans hadn’t seen, and finally got the recognition he deserved from outside of Toronto, after years of being “overrated” because he was on the Leafs. He’s the best goal scorer in the league, and he’s one of the best players in the league right now.
And he’s a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Season Recap
It was a “slow” start for Matthews by his own standards, as this was actually his first …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Jake Muzzin is the hero we don’t deserve

Leafs fans argue about a lot. Should the Leafs trade Mitch Marner? Should the Leafs trade William Nylander? Is Jake Gardiner bad? Is Tomas Kaberle bad? Very rarely do you find a player that just about everyone in this fanbase universally likes, especially in this era of analytics.
Jake Muzzin is the kind of player that fits everybody’s needs. He’s got that tough physical edge and experience that the grit and character side of the fanbase has been looking for in the Mike Komisareks and Jeff Fingers and Tim Gleasons and Roman Polaks, but he’s also a very good defensive defenseman from the stats side of things. He is the biggest cog in the Leafs d-core, and when he goes down, it feels like the team will too.
And that’s exactly what happened in Game 6, as he got hurt midway through the game and would’ve been out for three weeks, but thankfully his teammates cared about him so much that they made sure that he only missed one game. It was the second year in a row that he got hurt in the middle of their playoff series and they definitely didn’t look the …

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Author: Scott Maxwell / The Leafs Nation

Ilya Mikheyev has some work to do this offseason

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the futre holds for them. Today’s article features souperman Ilya Mikheyev.
2020-21 Season Recap

Mikheyev is an interesting player to evaluate. On the one hand, he’s got speed to burn…

Yes, Mikheyev has got elite speed and an incredible work ethic too. But other than that, he doesn’t really bring much else.
For the season, Mikheyev recorded 17 points, only seven of which were goals. Funny enough, he attempted exactly 173 shots on goal in back-to-back seasons. Last season, that equates to just over four shot attempts per game (39 games). This season, just over three shot attempts per game (54 games). At first glance this might be a cause for concern. Dig a little deeper, and we find out that Mikheyev was buried in defensive zone starts this season. This lines up with the ideology from Sheldon Keefe of wanting to have a super shutdown third line. Mikheyev started a whopping 65.1% of his shifts in the defensive zone. The only …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

Justin Holl is an underwhelming enigma

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The Toronto Maple Leafs and their fans have suffered more than their fair share of enigmatic stars: from Tomas Kaberle to Jake Gardiner to Morgan Rielly; from Jason Blake to Phil Kessel to Mitch Marner; it can be a rollercoaster here in Toronto. Typically, the branding of “enigma” is given to those previously listed high-skill players that don’t seem to bring their best every night. When they’re on, they’re a hero. When they’re off, they’re a villain.
It’s rare that a low-cost, defensive-minded player like Justin Holl develops that tumultuous reputation of being amazing some nights and a disaster on others, but that’s what I’ve observed this season.
On nights when Holl is at his best, the Leafs have one of the best “found wallet” assets in the league. On his off nights, the Leafs would be lucky if the Seattle Kraken are dumb enough to take him off of our hands in the upcoming expansion draft.
As is always the case, the reality is somewhere in between. What Justin Holl was able to accomplish this season was a consistent spot in the Leafs’ top four defenders alongside Jake Muzzin, which …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

John Tavares is an important Toronto Maple Leaf

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the future holds for them. Today’s article features our captain, pajama boy, John Tavares.
Year three for John Tavares as a Toronto Maple Leaf was an interesting one. Coming off of a down year where Tavares recorded 20 goals and 60 points, there were many nights last season where Tavares would collect his points, but it felt like he wasn’t doing things that an 11 million dollar player should. This led to a lot of offseason discussion on whether or not Tavares was entering his decline faster than anticipated. You add this to the disappointing loss to Columbus in the bubble and you have unreasonable discussions of trading John Tavares.
2020-21 Season Recap
 

If you remember way back in January, Sheldon Keefe rolled out this top nine to start the season:
 
LW
C
RW
JOE THORNTON
AUSTON MATTHEWS
MITCH MARNER

JIMMY VESEY

JOHN TAVARES
WILLIAM NYLANDER

ILYA MIKHEYEV
ALEXANDER KERFOOT
ZACH HYMAN
The thinking was (at least when the team was …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

Mitch Marner is an incredible talent but we should absolutely be debating if he has a future with the Leafs

Welcome to the TLN Year in Review series on the Leafs players. One by one we’ll go through the entire roster and assess what went right and what went wrong for each player last season and what we think the futre holds for them. Rather than keep you all waiting for his name to come up at a random point, we’re starting off with a bang and going with a player that might be the most polarizing Leafs player at the moment, and rightfully so.
For three of the last four seasons Mitch Marner has been the Leafs leading scorer. He was on pace to finish with a career best regular season point total of 98 points, and have a legitimate shot at a 100 point season. After a 16 goal season last year, Marner worked on his shot and came back with 20 goals in 55 games this year. He’s received votes for the Lady Byng, Selke, and Allstar teams in the past, and this year, more than any other he has a legitimate shot at being named to either the first or second all-star team as he led all RW in points. Yes, there’s a lot to like about …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Should the Leafs consider signing Tuukka Rask this summer?

It has been over a week since the Leafs’ season came to an abrupt end and yet people are still searching for answers on what went wrong and what needs to be done to fix it. The area that is perhaps the least of the team’s concerns is the goaltending because Jack Campbell proved he has what it takes to be a number one option and should continue to do so for 2021-22 and beyond.
While that is pretty straightforward, the question of who will be his backup is the exact opposite. Frederik Andersen seems destined to leave Toronto and sign elsewhere come July 28th. David Rittich was less than stellar in his brief stint with the team that cost them a third-round pick. Michael Hutchinson did improve from the season prior but who knows if it’s a sign of things to come or he’s bound to regress again. Then you have a bunch of goalies on the Marlies who are still a work in progress such as Joseph Woll and Ian Scott.
Because of the lack of clarity on who will be Campbell’s partner for the next campaign, it would be in the Leafs’ best …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation