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Category: Toronto-Maple-Leafs

Is The Goaltending In Toronto Good Enough To Win The Cup?

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

While the Tampa Bay Lightning won back-to-back championships with four-time Vezina Trophy finalist Andrei Vasilevskiy as their unquestioned starter, the line between elite No. 1 goalie and flavour-of-the-month has never been so blurred — or so confusing.

Maybe that is why so many teams are now treating the position as though it is the NHL’s version of a bullpen. It’s all about quantity — not quality — these days, with teams preferring tandems and riding the hot hand for all it’s worth, before discarding it once it goes cold.

And so, Mrazek replaces Frederik Andersen as the Leafs’ 1B on a three-year deal where he and Campbell will presumably share the net. In a division that includes Vasilevskiy, Montreal’s Carey Price and Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky, you’d be hard-pressed to say that the Leafs have improved their chances of getting out of the first round.

“It never felt for us like we had a tandem,” Leafs GM Kyle Dubas said of Campbell and Andersen, who evenly split the net last season. “It was just whoever was healthy was playing. Mrazek has done (a tandem) in Carolina, but also carried the ball as a starter. We think they will push each other.”

At the same time, Dubas admitted that it’s not like the Leafs had the cap space to go “big-game hunting” for a big-name goalie. Even they did, why would they waste the money on a position where you don’t necessarily get what you pay for.

read on

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Petr Mrazek Will Sign With The Toronto Maple Leafs

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Would You Trade Mitch Marner For Rasmus Dahlin?

from Travis Yost of TSN,

One of the biggest challenges they have right now is a top-heavy roster on the cap front – not an issue for teams winning through their stars, but again, that hasn’t been the case in Toronto. Although Auston Matthews appears worth every penny, players like Mitch Marner ($10.9-million AAV) continue to be evaluated.

Top-pairing defenceman Morgan Rielly’s contract is another issue. The deal expires at the end of next season and he is looking at a raise, one he probably can’t get in Toronto, which would put another hole in the blueline....

Even on an expensive deal, few teams have the assets to trade for a player like Marner. That’s where Sabres defenceman Rasmus Dahlin comes into play. The former first-overall pick (2018) has shown signs of brilliance in Buffalo, but it’s been rather inconsistent, and the 2020-21 season was particularly ugly. The offensive playmaking and distributing ability is there in spades; so too, unfortunately, was shoddy off-the-puck play.

What’s hard to tell is how much the Sabres acted as an anchor on Dahlin’s production versus how much Dahlin contributed to Buffalo’s struggles – though just 21 and clearly still developing, it cannot be discounted that Dahlin (who averaged nearly 22 minutes a night last season) was contributory on that front.

more and perhaps a few more parts...

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Leafs Won’t Do A Sign And Trade With Zach Hymen

from Kristen Shilton of TSN,

According to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, Hyman is set to sign a long-term deal with the Edmonton Oilers when free agency officially begins next week. Dubas had subsequently been engaged with Oilers’ GM Ken Holland on a sign-and-trade that would have allowed Hyman to ink a max-term eight-year deal with Edmonton.

But Dreger reported on Saturday those talks proved fruitless. Dubas and the Leafs placed a high value on the cap savings that eighth year would bring Edmonton, and the Oilers weren’t willing to meet their expectations.

“We know what the value is of the eighth year with the cap savings and so if there's a fair deal to be made to do that, we'll do that,” Dubas told reporters on a Zoom call Saturday, following the conclusion of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. “But we've been in that situation before [too], and the other GMs aren't helping you out there; they’re pulling the pin from the grenade and they're throwing it to you. I know there's a narrative that we should just get something but you're saving a team significant dollars on the salary cap and that comes with the cost, and we're not going to bend on [what we think is fair].”

Hyman, 29, has played the entirety of his career to date in Toronto, amassing 85 goals and 185 points in 345 career games. Dreger reiterated on Saturday that the deal in place for Hyman now with Edmonton will be for seven years and is likely to carry an average annual value of $5.5 million.

read on

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Kyle Dubas Believes In His Leafs

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

... But after a season where the Leafs finished first in the North Division, produced two all-stars in Matthews and Marner and made improvements in defensive play, Dubas isn’t bringing a sledgehammer to the main roster, at least to those under contract. Also, Jason Spezza, Wayne Simmonds and Travis Dermott have been re-signed and Dubas made the Jared McCann trade with Pittsburgh to keep Alexander Kerfoot and defenceman Justin Holl safe from the Seattle expansion draft.

“I understand some may look at it and say ‘this group hasn’t gotten it done’ and ‘why aren’t there significant changes?’,” Dubas said.

“But for better or worse, I believe in this group, believe they’re going to get it done and believe that they’re going to win. I believe in them as players, I believe in them as people. I understand that comes with a certain doubt because of the fact we have not broken through in the playoffs, but it’s my belief they will. I know that decision lies on me and what the risk is for me.

“We’re going ahead that way, so I’m comfortable with it. I believe we’re going to see the best version of this group next season that we’ve seen yet and I’m willing to bet everything on that.”

more

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Afternoon Line- Kyle Dubas

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Jason Spezza Staying In Toronto

via the Toronto Maple Leafs,

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that the hockey club has signed centre Jason Spezza to a one-year contract extension. The value of the contract is worth $750,000.

Spezza, 38, skated in 54 regular season games with the Maple Leafs during the 2020-21 season, recording 30 points (10 goals, 20 assists). The Toronto native has registered 970 points (351 goals, 619 assists) in 1,177 regular season games and 75 points (28 goals, 47 assists) in 92 playoff games between the Ottawa Senators, Dallas Stars and Toronto Maple Leafs. He has skated in the NHL All-Star Game on two occasions in 2008 and 2012.

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Examining The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

This isn’t so much about whether a team can succeed when it commits 49.7 percent of its cap allotment to four forwards in what has become a flat-earth NHL. It is about what happens when the forwards who embody your vision and around whom you have built your team flame out spectacularly in the crucible. It is about what happens when you might have given the money to the wrong people.

It is about what happens when Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, neither of whom has a particularly appealing public persona, fail to produce after a season of producing zany numbers. It is what happens when there isn’t enough support to compensate for a series-ending injury sustained early in Game 1 by John Tavares. It is what happens when Willy Nylander becomes the lone member of the remaining amigos to elevate his game.

This isn’t quite the same as the Capitals’ repeated failures last decade to get through the Penguins. It is not tantamount to the Rangers running into the Islanders wall in the early 1980s or the original Jets’ inability scale the Edmonton mountain later in that decade.

The Maple Leafs have lost five consecutive opening-round series (including last year’s qualifying round under the bubble) to four different teams. They have been beaten by the Caps, by the Bruins (twice), by the Blue Jackets and now by the Canadiens. Eight times, the Leafs have skated into potential clinchers. Eight times, they have lost. Five times over the past three years, they played a winner-take-all contest. Five times, they were on the wrong side of the handshake line.

continued

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Auston Matthews And Mitch Marner Have No Answers For Their Series Loss

from Kristen Shilton of TSN,

The Maple Leafs have run out of excuses for their postseason shortcomings.

Perhaps it’s because losing has become all too familiar. When Toronto fell to Montreal in Game 7 of its first-round playoff series on Monday, it was the fourth time in five years that the Leafs had been jettisoned from the opening round, and third time it happened in a decisive Game 7.

The Leafs were coming off an impressive regular season where they won the North Division, and were facing a Montreal team they finished 18 points ahead of in the standings. Toronto had a 3-1 series lead over the Canadiens too, and then blew it in stunning fashion. 

“The end result is terrible, it's not what we wanted,” said Mitch Marner on Wednesday during the Leafs' locker clean-out. “This year we had the talent, we had the will, we had the fight. It just didn't come through, and it’s always the same words at the end of the year. We had three cracks at it, and we’re all very disappointed because we had such high confidence that we were a team that was meant to do a lot more.”

No one has taken more heat in the wake of Toronto’s latest loss than Marner and Auston Matthews. Playing together on the Leafs’ top line, the duo produced only one goal and nine points through seven games, and they were a non-factor offensively in Toronto’s final three losses with a paltry three assists combined. 

It was baffling to see the two rendered so ineffective, given how strong their regular-season performances were. 

continued

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Obsessed With The Toronto Maple Leafs

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Most franchises just exist, in their own markets, within their own fan base, in their own quiet way, but it seems so much of the hockey world is engaged and rather obsessed with what is right and what is wrong and what is next for the Maple Leafs.

The Leafs spend more than other teams on their operations. They overpay their players. They coddle them. They provide them with layers of support. They have more middle management with titles than almost any team in hockey. And they get more coverage, locally, nationally, especially on the two sports networks in Canada, than anyone else in the game.

So they are liked and loved and loathed by those who work in and around the game — and they are watched and studied, like it’s the latest release from Amazon, and by the way, there is a documentary coming out this season, one of the really dumb ideas to be part of for a team that doesn’t need any more dumb ideas.

This is the time of year to scream. This is another body blow to the solar plexus. And this is complicated, which makes it all the more confusing.

Normally, you look at the upper management of the team and wonder who pays the price for the latest Leafs failure. Isn’t that how it usually works? That’s what hockey people want to know.

Who’s getting fired and who’s getting traded and whose contracts aren’t being renewed?

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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