Another quick post-season exit left the Leaf Nation with more questions than answers about where their favorite hockey club is going from here. How the Toronto Maple Leafs can reset, reshape and come back stronger for 2022-23.
Fans have concerns and curiosities, and we’ve done our best to answer them in the first off-season Maple Leafs mailbag.
If this really is the ‘Maasai summer’, who could it be, Kawhi Leonard of the Leafs? Which Marlis Might Make The Leap? What about that shrinking force? And how much is too much on UFA Jack Campbell?
In the most realistic of situations, who can we get as a “Kawhi movement”? Who do you like as a potential player to boost the roster?
– Ronan Cook (@Cookser4) May 18 2022
Although GM Kyle Dupas has reaffirmed his belief in his combined talent, I think GM will at least explore changes in front, defense and target.
Now, the Spiritual thing is an imperfect resemblance. I don’t see the best player on the market, and one basketball player can influence the outcome with more than one hockey player. (Otherwise, Conor McDavid would have multiple episodes now.) Moreover, hockey managers are generally very conservative, and are reluctant to give up their stars for someone else.
Hence, those extremely rare movies like Taylor Hall, PK Subban or Patrik Laine will be feeding us headlines for months.
Prime Minister William Nylander – who is burning off his career best with 34 goals, 80 points – could return a lot, and is the closest thing the Leafs have to DeMar DeRozan. (Jake Muzzin and Alexander Kerfoot, members of the extended leadership group, should have some value in the trade-in market.)
If Dubas dares to make a big run, Vancouver’s GT Miller – the only NHL top-10 scorer who could conceive of a move – is the name I like the most.
No clue if they’re available, but for fun: How about trading for Timo Meier, Nikolaj Ehlers or Dylan Larkin while their paychecks are understated?
Dubbas was interested in Jakob Chychrun, whose headdress was beautiful. Is he taking another stab now?
Is the case of Tyler Bertozzi’s vaccination too big to impede reconsideration of trade talks?
How about a right-footed defender like Colton Baraico outside St. Louis? Fans should crave more volume at the back end.
The all-star pedigree of John Gibson among the tubes is attractive.
Alternatively, Dubas could free up cover space and take off on the veteran UFA. Chris Letang, John Klingberg, Evgeny Malkin, or Philip Forsberg will make big waves.
David Byron, Darcy Comber, Andrew Cope or Vincent Troczyk for less.
Why does no one mention the obvious. Playing power let us down again. Why do our players not want or are afraid to block the goalkeeper. 4 players around the ocean?
– Dino Roman (@DinoRoman6) May 18 2022
you are right.
In a series so rich in special teams time, a goal or two in time from power play could have shifted the scales in a foliage fashion.
Toronto ran first in power play in the regular season (27.3 percent) but only made use of 14.3 percent of their chances in the Tampa Series.
Even more worryingly, the Leafs have been awarded far more advantages (four per game) in the post-season than the previous 82 games (2.82 per game).
The NHL’s most expensive 5-on-4 unit went cold at its worst moment again. The Leafs went 0-fer on three chances out of Game 7. Toronto’s strength hasn’t scored in their past 18 chances during matches where they can take down an opponent.
Give Lightning credit for making room for base option Auston Matthews.
“That’s just the nature of qualifying,” point man Morgan Riley said. “There’s a lot of pre-exploration going on. Killing them from penalty kicks is obviously very important to their game plan, and for us, not being able to execute at the rate we’ve been during the regular season isn’t ideal. But having said that, we got some goals. The big ones. You want your PK ready, your power game ready. But in the playoffs, it’s even tighter.”
TRUE. But coach Sheldon Cave and his crew failed to adapt. Tampa’s force was more flexible and direct, as well as Victor Hedman threatening to detonate a bomb from above.
Keefe Reilly replaced Mark Giordano on the point in Game Five, and a massive power-playing goal helped bring him a comeback win. Oddly enough, Keefe returns to Rielly for the rest of the series, despite clicking on Giordano’s appearance.
“You had hopes or expectations that playing for power would be the threat that he was (in the regular season). So, not having him reach that level has been disappointing, and therefore makes it something we will continue to look at,” Keefe said.
“The opponent has a say in that, whether in their structure, how they play against you, or the goalkeeper, in the end. But there are a few things about the process there that we will continue to look at. We certainly don’t rest on our laurels – even in the regular season. And for sure. In the qualifiers, we need to be better.”
Are Leafs fans satisfied with the loss?
All I see and hear is ‘Well, it’s different this year, they competed to the end’.
This combo gets the entire organization out of the slack. Still six straight years of fiasco in the first round or qualifying round.
– Company Suit and Tie Guy (Mark_inFairport) May 18 2022
By accounts, yes, there appears to be some truth in this.
Because of my job, I end up spending a lot of time talking to die-hard fans of Les’s at my shiny games or when I’m driving my 11-year-old skiing around town.
The angry anger and frustration that seemed to prevail after the crashes and missed opportunities against Boston, Columbus and Montreal was replaced by some apathy. It’s not uncommon to hear fans say (a) they’ve finished a Leafs game or (b) they’ll wait to hear once they win the round.
The bar, which looked high in the sky in 2017 and 2018, has fallen.
Although the playoff didn’t work out, I don’t hear much demand for change, as this 27,200 survey notes:
Sports fans have a lot more power, perhaps more than they realize. They vote with their presence, their purchases of goods.
If Brendan Shanahan is still okay in the public eye, there’s no pressure on the monarchy to rock the boat.
Deeper Theory: We’re about to enter year seven of the Dubas-Matthews-Marner-Nylander-Riley competition that we can – will – run. A generation of ardent Maple Leafs supporters identify themselves with this specific core. (And why not? These guys are so talented.)
If they fail in the end, it means that all the energy that fans poured on them is wasted.
When the plane begins to vibrate, it holds on tight.
Do you think any of your top leads are hopping off this off-season?
– Charlie (@Charlie__44) May 18 2022
Matthew Kniss, the most valuable prospect at this point, looks like he’s virtually untouchable, as his upcoming Friendlies will be counted on to provide value once his NCAA season is over.
But if, say, it is possible to replace Nick Robertson or Ronnie Hirvonen with a developer player who can improve the Maple Leafs’ roster of final matches, it’s worth considering.
It’s hard to overstate the urgency to delve deeper into 2023, with Mathews’ UFA status emerging in 2024.
If you thought Dubas was everything before, look no further.
Can any team win this percentage out of the maximum 3 players?? We also saw what happened to Chicago after the guys got
– Corupt (@Crupt7) May 18 2022
Hey, anything is possible.
But if Maple Leafs has taught us anything so far, the answer is unlikely.
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toys were rewarded with eight-year contracts worth $10.5 million per season distance They raised three cups. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf – these stars were all relatively cheap when they became champions and got the bag afterwards.
Loading up his own pay structure, Dupas has no choice but to spend less on goalkeepers, top four defensemen and role-playing in attackers. I’d argue that was the difference in his recent defeats in the playoffs.
What is your favorite place to eat in the city
– Brett (@brettjjohnn) May 18 2022
I’m an East Sea resident, so I’ll shout out some locals: Hanoi 3 Seasons Vietnamese; Delhi Bistro Indian Fast Food; Completo for best latin hangover cure; Gio Rana’s Really Nice Restaurant for Italian food at night; Zola for the Mexican; and Ed’s Real Scoop for the best ice cream in the world.
What’s the most you want to give Jack before you let him walk?
– Zach (ZacharyBeral) May 18 2022
Three years for $4.4 million.
Which is why I think Campbell walks reluctantly.
In the UFA skinny goalkeeper market, a number one like Campbell should, at the very least, get the Cal Peterson deal (three years at $5 million). The price of the Elvis Merzlinkins deal (four years to $5.4 million) may reach.
I asked Campbell Tuesday if he’s considering taking below market value to keep the paper. He didn’t say yes. I don’t blame him.
He is 30 years old and has a career earnings of $5.78 million. Go get that check, Jack.
No one will envy you for that. Look how it goes with Zach Hyman.
Who do you think the Leafs aim for in free agency, be it depth or better 6 assists LW?
– Painful Leaf Fan (@fvc022) May 18 2022
Lots of free agency columns will appear, no doubt, but let’s focus on the top six left wings that could be on the market.
Johnny Goudreau and Evander Kane are Hushan, and their current teams will do everything they can to keep them in the fold. Can not imagine either becoming a paper.
I’m told Dubas has challenged the Filip Forsberg trade in the past, but his price tag will be through the roof. This would require a significant removal of the salary from the current list.
Mason’s March reunion? Homecoming Max Dome? You don’t see it.
Nick Paul, Andrew Kopp, Andrei Burakowski and Ondrej Balat are all interesting candidates – all of whom would improve on Toronto’s top nine players, and none of them come cheap.
The most economical course might be to explore the commercial market or simply bet that Nick Robertson will spend the summer of his life.
If some Tweet embed They will break this lineup, who will they be and what will your depth chart look like?
– Does not take (Draft_Shmaft) May 18 2022
Bobby McMahon, Curtis Douglas, Joey Anderson, Alex Steves and Pontus Holmberg, as well as Robertson, will be invited to compete for a place on the list this fall.
The way Dubbas designed his salary structure, it is imperative that the Leafs get meaningful contributions from the few men still on entry contracts.
Could the Leafs win their league next year? And how important is that?
– gCamp (vert_similitude) May 18 2022
The Maple Leafs are a great regular season team that placed fourth overall in 2021-22.
I don’t think Montreal, Ottawa, Buffalo and Detroit will be as horrific as they were last winter, but I’m not yet ready to classify any of them as an accessory team.
Tampa Bay could lose Bales and Paul and still be considered a contender. If Patrice Bergeron retires, it will be nearly impossible for the Bruins to maintain a pace of 107 points.
The Presidents Cup-winning Panthers finished seven health points ahead of the Leafs, but that gap could be closed if Toronto appeared against some of their weakest opponents.
Leaf leaves a range of points on the table against non-playing teams.