The crew that covers the Toronto Maple Leafs for The Hockey Writers gathers in the Maple Leafs Lounge every week. This virtual platform brings writers together from across Leafs’ Nation to chat about stories that they’ve posted, comments they’ve received, and ideas they are working on.
In this edition, the team sets up the series with the Calgary Flames. Anytime you talk about the Flames, you have to talk about Matthew Tkachuk. With Zach Hyman’s career year, the writers give their opinions on his chances of making Team Canada at the 2022 Olympics. Also, weighing in on how much he will cost the Maple Leafs to re-sign him. To wrap up the episode, the guys talk about the goalie situation and fan comments.
Maple Leafs vs. Calgary Flames
The Leafs are in Alberta for two games set to kick off what will be a busy week. Despite a coaching change, Calgary still seems to be struggling to find its stride. As the trade deadline looms, the Flames are starting to lean more on the selling side, putting them in the upset role. The Maple Leafs have regained their play from earlier this season. They are once again putting some space between themselves and the North Division.
Of course, you can’t help but think of the Jake Muzzin puck flip to the chest of Tkachuk back in January. Andrew Forbes talked about his experience watching Tkachuk play for the London Knights and the feisty forward’s transition to the big leagues. “I really think his game has changed a little bit at the NHL level. He is almost forced to stand up for himself a little more, whereas in London he was such a team guy and a lot of the Knights were Tkachuk fans,” said Forbes.
Hyman on Team Canada, Hyman staying in Toronto?
Zach Hyman’s career year has some observers looking at him as an outside bet on making Team Canada’s roster for the next Olympics. The writing team was split on the likelihood of Hyman wearing red in 2022. But perhaps more importantly, will he be back in Toronto next season. Hyman will be an unrestricted free agent, and he is due for a considerable raise. Hyman is currently getting $2.25 million and will be able to double that number in the open market after this season.
The writers did some investigating by reading Hyman’s books. He has written seven children’s stories. The Old Prof has read them all, “if you read his books, you get a sense of the deep philosophy. There is a deep sense of purpose in those books, and I think that deep sense of purpose puts Hyman at a different level. I think that means he will want to stay in Toronto. He has his head screwed on really straight.”
Ullmark or Kuemper or?
It’s been the hottest topic in Toronto since the puck dropped this season. The goalie situation is not ideal. Yes, Jack Campbell is doing very well. But his health remains a concern. Frederik Andersen’s status is a mystery. However, Andersen is a free agent at the end of this season. Toronto is shopping around for a solution for this season and one that could impact the team for years to come. Elliotte Friedman broke the news that Toronto was doing “due diligence” in contacting the Buffalo Sabres in regards to Linus Ullmark.
Meanwhile, Peter Baracchini explained his article that got Leafs’ Nation talking. He explored the possibility of trading with the Arizona Coyotes to bring in Darcy Kuemper. “If you’re able to bring in Kuemper, who is still considered week-to-week, seven-day quarantine if he comes to Canada, that quarantine will coincide with the rehab,” said Baracchini. The writer also said he took a lot of heat from Arizona fans who do not want to see Kuemper go.
The team finished with fan comments are interactions, which we always encourage feedback on our articles and social media channels. The next Leafs Lounge will take place just a few days ahead of the trade deadline. The writers will discuss what Toronto could do before April 12 on the next episode.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.