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

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

Sunday’s Rundown: Three free-agent left-wingers the Toronto Maple Leafs should target

Since the Toronto Maple Leafs have been eliminated from the playoffs, it’s now time for the trade rumours and free agent rumours to start swirling around, and since we talk about the Maple Leafs, I feel like the rumours are going to be coming out 24/7, simply because of how these playoffs ended for them and how they are more than likely going to make more changes to the roster.
With Toronto having seven pending UFA forwards entering this off-season, they are going to make some decisions on who to bring back and who to let simply walk away from the team. I think it’s safe to say that out of all seven forwards that are set to become UFA’s (Nash, Hyman, Simmonds, Foligno, Galchenyuk, Spezza and Thornton) the Maple Leafs may only have interest in bringing back maybe just three of them. I feel like Jason Spezza is more than a lock to re-sign here and I also feel like they’ll try and make Zach Hyman a priority as well as Alex Galcenyuk if they could maybe work out a similar deal he was signed to this season.
For the other guys such as Nash, Simmonds, …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Leafs sign SHL playoff MVP Pontus Holmberg to two-year entry level contract

The Maple Leafs announced on Friday that the team has signed SHL playoff MVP Pontus Holmberg to a two-year entry level contract. Holmberg was selected by the Leafs in the sixth-round of the 2018 NHL draft and has spent the last three seasons playing for the Växjö Lakers of the Swedish Hockey League.

We’ve signed forward Pontus Holmberg to a two-year entry level contract. #LeafsForever
Details » https://t.co/JqCZbePk3C pic.twitter.com/HeAjZhNB63
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) June 4, 2021

Holmberg tallied nine goals and 14 assists through 45 regular season games, earning Swedish Forward of the Year honors, and picked up his offensive production in the playoffs, scoring seven goals and seven assists in 14 games to help lead Växjö to an SHL championship. He also suited up in a pair of games for Sweden at the recent World Hockey Championships, earning valuable international experience. The Leafs will loan the 22-year-old forward back to Växjö for the 2021-2022 campaign where he will once again be a key piece for one of the SHL’s top teams.

Pontus Holmberg has done it again!!!! The #LeafsForever prospect scores in overtime to give Vaxjo a 3-1 series lead in the #SHL Finals!
5 …

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Author: Nick Richard / The Leafs Nation

3 Maple Leafs that need to produce in game 6 against the Canadiens

3 Maple Leafs that need to produce in game 6 against the Canadiens

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a huge opportunity to close out the series against Montreal in game 5 on Thursday night on home ice. However, as we all know by now, they just fell short and lost 4-3 in overtime after being down 3-0 in the second period and slowly crawled their way back to tie the game and gave a lot of fans hope. Although it was heartbreaking to see them lose a close game in overtime that would’ve seen Toronto win their first playoff series since 2004, they are right back at it tonight in Montreal for game 6 and fans are definitely feeling a bunch of emotions right now, that’s for sure.
With game 6 being tonight, there are some certain players on the Maple Leafs that I think need to step up in this game to help secure a victory for Toronto. I’m not saying these three individuals have been downright garbage this series, but there are two players who haven’t really been playing up to their standards and are just waiting for a breakout game to happen for them. If there was a certain game for these two guys to step up and lead the …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation

Day After Thoughts: No comeback kids last night

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost 4-3 in Overtime on Thursday night to the Montreal Canadiens. The playoff series now sits at 3-2 in favour of the Leafs. Zach Hyman and Jake Muzzin (x2!) scored for the Leafs, while Joel Armia (x2), Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored for the Habs in regulation. Nick Suzuki scored the OT winner.
In typical Leafs fashion, the team went down in this game early, and then played with everyone’s emotions by tying it at three and then losing in Overtime in the most leafiest way possible. Alex Galchenyuk turned the puck over in OT to Cole Caufield and sent him and Suzuki down the ice on a 2-on-0 breakaway.
I thought the Leafs looked okay last night. For the first half of the game the team looked rather flat or perhaps nervous. After all, in the Auston Matthews era, the Leafs have yet to win a playoff series. They have only led in a playoff series twice since 2017. They were up 2-1 against the Capitals in 2017 and held 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 series leads against the Bruins in 2019.
As the game progressed however, the Leafs slowly started to get things going. By the third period the …

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Author: Brendan Mori / The Leafs Nation

The TLN Three Stars: Toronto Maple Leafs fail to advance with game 5 OT loss to Montreal

The Toronto Maple Leafs had a rare chance to close out a playoff series, and an opportunity to advance to the second round for the first time since 2004. Despite the opportunity, the team failed to deliver on the killer instinct that has seemed to elude the franchise for over a decade, falling 4-3 to the Montreal Canadiens less than a minute into overtime.
While the game ended up being far closer than the initial 3-0 lead Montreal took early in the second period, the Toronto Maple Leafs seemed to lack the urgency that a Montreal Canadiens team fighting for their season was showing throughout the contest. Though the team was able to tie the game and force overtime, the zamboni had barely left the ice before a brutal Alex Galchenyuk giveaway led to a Montreal Candiens two-man breakaway that led to the winning goal by Nick Suzuki.
Now the teams return back to Montreal, where the Bell Centre will be the first NHL arena in Canada to host fans all season. Toronto will have to silence the crowd, or be forced to bring it back home for a dreaded game seven.
3rd Star: Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie
The Leafs …

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Author: Filipe Dimas / The Leafs Nation

Jack Campbell has his first-career playoff shutout

Well, well, well, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one win away from sending the Montreal Canadiens golfing.
In this game, where the Leafs won 4-0, Jack Campbell played good (first-career playoff shutout), William Nylander scored again, Alex Galchenyuk played great and both of Jason Spezza and Joe Thornton had goals.
An incredible effort from them, and now I get to jump around and scream about it. I hope you enjoy the video!

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Author: Nick Barden / The Leafs Nation

Day After Thoughts: Jack Campbell carries the Leafs to a 2-1 series lead

It wasn’t quite the resounding win of Saturday, but the Toronto Maple Leafs did win (in regulation) game 3 of the series against the Habs, pulling ahead to a 2-1 series lead. And, as my title suggests, they very much have Jack Campbell to thank for it.
Last night’s game was quite the rollercoaster ride, almost literally. It started off flat and kind of boring, with not much at all happening in the first period (other than that Carey Price save we’ll get to in a bit), and then a TON of high octane action in the second, leading into a bit of a skid to stop in the third. Nevertheless, with equal SOG, the Leafs managed to score 2 goals to the Canadiens’ 1, which according to my math means they won the game – and that’s what matters.
Let’s take a look at each period a bit more in depth, shall we?
First period
As mentioned, not much happened in the first. In fact, many fans were surprised and a bit disappointed at such low-energy hockey from these two teams in a tied series. The Leafs did kill off a four-minute penalty to start the game, but …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

The Maple Leafs need to keep this third line together for the rest of the series against the Canadiens

The Maple Leafs need to keep this third line together for the rest of the series against the Canadiens

After game one on Thursday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs were faced to make a lineup change due to the injury of their captain, John Tavares. With the injury to Tavares, Alex Galchenyuk was called upon to slide into the lineup and slot back in the top-six alongside Nick Foligno and William Nylander. As well, with the addition of Galchenyuk in the lineup, Sheldon Keefe also went with the decision to slot Pierre Engvall in the lineup and take newly acquired Riley Nash out of the lineup for one simple reason. Offence.
Well, with the new-look second and third line entering game two against Montreal, Leaf fans were excited to see how they would perform after a game one loss, but more importantly, how the team as a whole would perform after losing one of their best players and their captain, John Tavares. I think it’s safe to say all four lines were absolutely amazing last night as they all provided a little bit of something whenever they were out there on the ice together.
The Maple Leafs flat out dominated the Canadiens last night and I guess some could say six power-plays helped Toronto outplay Montreal, but even …

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Author: Joseph Zita / The Leafs Nation