In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share some insights from a recent interview with former Maple Leafs’ forward Zach Hyman. Second, I’ll look at the number of contracts the Maple Leafs have remaining and wonder who, or if anyone, might be signed from the team’s current development camp.
Third, I’ll report that at a former Maple Leafs’ player was recently signed to a PTO by the Ottawa Senators – that’s Tyler Ennis. Fourth, I’ll take a look at what looks like a great young defenseman in Matt Hellickson. Finally, I’ll share the preseason game television schedule from both Sportsnet and TSN. That’s a sure sign that the 2021-22 regular season will soon be underway.
Item One: Hyman on Maple Leafs (and Oilers’) Expectations
On September 16, ex-Maple Leafs’ and new Edmonton Oilers’ forward Zach Hyman joined Tim & Friends to talk about why he chose the Oilers, about both his new and old teammates, and about what it was like to play with some of the most elite hockey players in the world. One other aspect of the interview caught my attention.
Hyman was asked if he thought the high expectations that Maple Leafs’ and Oilers’ fans put on their teams were justified. Not surprisingly, his response really didn’t directly answer that question, but he did add some insight into what he thought as a player in Canada.
Hyman noted: “As a player, you want to be in a market that has passionate fans and that has people who care. In Toronto and Edmonton and the Canadian market, you have fans who love hockey. They watch hockey, play hockey, and live for it. You pair that with elite talent and those high expectations are definitely warranted.”
Item Two: The Maple Leafs Have Three Contracts Left
According to CapFriendly, the Maple Leafs have only three of 50 contract spots remaining. Assuming that both PTO players – Josh Ho-Sang and Nikita Gusev – show well and are signed to contracts, the Maple Leafs have room to sign only one prospect from their development camp. I’m interested to see who shows well during the camp.
Or, will the team wait to see what happens early in the season as they did last year when they signed Alex Galchenyuk. By the way, Galchenyuk still hasn’t been signed by anyone as of this moment. Is it me, or are there still a number of depth players still waiting for contracts?
Item Three: Former Maple Leafs’ Tyler Ennis Headed Back to Ottawa
One former Maple Leafs’ player who just signed is Tyler Ennis. The Ottawa Senators brought him back on a PTO. Ennis spent 61 games during the 2019-20 campaign with the team and played well while he was there.
Given his experience with the team, Ennis should have a chance to make the Senators’ roster. The team needs depth at the forward position and Ennis has shown he can play at any level the Senators need him from a bottom-six role to a decent fill in on the team’s top six if he’s needed.
The well-traveled Ennis was drafted 28th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, he’s also played with the Minnesota Wild, the Maple Leafs, the Senators, and for the last two seasons the Oilers.
While he was in Ottawa, Ennis got lots of game action and scored 14 goals and 19 assists (for 33 points) before he was traded at the deadline to the Oilers.
That season The Hockey News Steven Ellis wrote a post charting the best goal-scoring bargains in the NHL – how much salary it took per goal for all NHL players. Interestingly, the best bang for the buck was Ennis. The Senators hope he still has some of that ability left. He’s only 31-years-old.
Item Four: Matt Hellickson Scores Again
Matt Hellickson scored his third goal in three games as the Maple Leafs top prospects defeated the Dallas Stars top prospects 7-3 in rookie tournament action on Sunday. Hellickson’s been looking good during the tournament. According to my frequent co-writer, Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith, Hellickson’s been one of the most impressive young Maple Leafs’ prospects. He was actually a teammate with another Maple Leafs’ prospect Alex Steeves at Notre Dame, where he was also an alternate captain.
Hellickson had a strong collegiate career, playIng 146 games and scoring 13 goals and 39 assists (for 52 points). He was chosen as a seventh-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The Toronto Marlies have the young defenceman signed to a one-year AHL contract. Let’s hope he’s as good as he looks.
What’s Next with the Maple Leafs?
Hockey is coming and Maple Leafs’ fans will be able to see their team on television very soon. Both Sportsnet and TSN will air live coverage of all six Maple Leafs pre-season games. TSN will air Toronto’s games on September 27 at Montreal, September 29 at Ottawa, and October 5 vs. Montreal. Sportsnet will broadcast the Maple Leafs’ games on September 25 vs. Montreal, October 4 at Ottawa, and October 9 vs. Ottawa.
Get ready fans – the season is about to begin.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf