Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Kadri, Hyman, Cavallin & Fans Happy Places

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share news that two ex-Maple Leafs’ players are now out of the postseason. Second, I will report that a goalie has been signed into the organization – not Jack Campbell.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Jack Campbell Is a Teammate You Want on the Roster

Finally, I’ll review what I have seen as the biggest complaints Maple Leafs’ fans have outlined in the conversation sections of my posts over the past season. They have some specific ideas about what they believe should be done to fix this team. I’ll do my best to list what I believe are Maple Leafs’ fans top four “Happy Places.” These are the four changes I believe they’ve noted that would make them the happiest.

Item One: Two Ex-Maple Leafs Are Now Finished for the Post-Season

Last night ex-Maple Leafs Zach Hyman scored two goals for the Edmonton Oilers, but it wasn’t enough. The Oilers lost in overtime to a strong Colorado Avalanche team by a score of 6-5. That eliminated them in four straight games.

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However, it didn’t come without an outstanding postseason performance by Hyman, who ended the postseason with 11 goals and five assists (for 16 points) in 16 games. He’s taken on a bigger role with his new team and is value-added for his salary.

Zach Hyman Edmonton Oilers
ex-Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman, now with the Edmonton Oilers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Nazem Kadri is also out for the rest of the postseason, but not because his team lost. Instead, he was injured in that same Oilers series. The report is that Kadri has had surgery to repair an injured thumb and, although he hasn’t been ruled out of the postseason completely, he’s unlikely to return. 

Related: Pelle Lindbergh Remembered

Kadri had a breakout regular season with 28 goals and 59 assists (for 87 points) in 71 games. His highest point total previously was 61 points in the 2016-17 season with the Maple Leafs. He also scored 32 goals both that season and the next. He’s probably due a bigger contract because when he becomes a UFA this summer.

Item Two: Toronto Marlies Sign Goalie Luke Cavallin

Until recently I hadn’t heard the name Luke Cavallin and his signing was news to me. The Toronto Marlies reported yesterday that they had signed the young goalie to a two-year AHL contract. Last season, Cavallin played with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and posted a 36-14-4 record, a goals-against-average of 3.16, and a save percentage of .910. 

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Cavallin is a native of Greely, Ontario (just south of Ottawa). In his 56 games with the Firebirds, the 21-year-old led the league in wins and ranked second in games played (56) and saves (1740). He was also named a finalist for the OHL All-Star Team.

In his four seasons with the Firebirds, Cavallin played in a total of 143 games – posting a 62-57-8 record, a goals-against-average of 3.91,  and a save percentage of .889.

Item Three: What Would Make Maple Leafs’ Fans Happiest?

Many Maple Leafs’ fans have a love-hate relationship with their team. Part of that dynamic is the feeling they’ve been let down so often. They desperately want their team to win and every single season they seem to get sucked into fully investing their hopes and dreams, only to have them dashed.

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Although some fans accept what’s happening and enjoy the team’s great regular seasons, others remain unsatisfied. They’re vocal about the organization’s need for change. Thankfully, they willingly share their passion in their comments on posts and seem pretty clear what they believe should happen to “fix” their team. 

As I reflect on what they say should be changing, it seems pretty easy to make a list about the things they believe should be different. 

Toronto Maple Leafs
Toronto Maple Leaf fans show their emotions after Boston scored in overtime at the final do or die game 7 featuring their Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins in Boston at Maple Leaf Square in Toronto on May 14, 2013 (Vince Talotta/Toronto Star)

Although I haven’t been systematic in counting the exact number of the changes fans have outlined, I do read them every day. They register. Here’s the order they seem (to me) to fall into. I have ranked them from the most desired to the fourth most desired. 

Note that I have used a metaphor from the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore. Here’s my sense of Maple Leafs’ fans’ Top 5 “Happy Places.”

Happy Place $1: Fire Kyle Dubas (and soon after Sheldon Keefe)

Firing Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas seems to be the biggest happy place for Maple Leafs’ fans. It’s clearly the change most want to see. Soon after, because they seem to be joined at the hip, head coach Sheldon Keefe should go. 

Related: Deconstructing Dubas: How The 2020-21 Toronto Maple Leafs Were Built

Fans have tons of issues with how Dubas has worked. But their biggest beef with Dubas is that he hasn’t won a Stanley Cup with this team. Second, his philosophy is skewed. Third, he spent too much money on the Core Four – no team can win with so much of its salary cap tied up in four players – as great as they are. 

In short, the Maple Leafs will never win while he’s making the decisions. But, as soon as he’s gone, watch out.

Happy Place #2: Move Petr Mrazek’s Contract

Fans believe that signing Petr Mrazek to such a high contract ($3.8 million for three years) was a huge mistake. Thus, Mrazek and his big contract should be exorcised as soon as possible. 

Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs
Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Fans note that Mrazek was always injury-prone, so his season of inability to play should have been no surprise. Again, Dubas and his team should have seen the problems coming. And cleaning up this specific mess would make many Maple Leafs fans happy.

Happy Place #3: Retro-actively Not Sign John Tavares

If only the clock could be turned back, John Tavares would still be the captain of the New York Islanders; and, with the money the team saved, the Maple Leafs would have won the Stanley Cup. His salary and no-trade clause have hamstrung the team’s ability to win. 

Related: 7 Cool Things About Jarome Iginla: Calgary Flames Hall of Famer

Now, Tavares is getting older and slower. Obviously, the team won’t be able to compete until he’s not on the roster. However, because Tavares has a no-trade clause it’s a mistake Dubas simply can’t fix. Most fans believe Tavares is a nice guy, but also believe he’s a player whose production is falling every season. 

Happy Place #4: Trade Mitch Marner (or William Nylander)

Many Maple Leafs’ fans believe one of the Core Four players should be traded, and my reading suggests Mitch Marner is the one to go (followed by William Nylander). Marner’s on the top of the list because, for as good as he plays and as much as he scores, he simply angered too many with his contract negotiations. Freeing up Marner’s salary would go a long way toward putting the team on the road to the Stanley Cup. 

Mitch Marner Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Over the past two seasons, the focus had been on William Nylander as THE player most fans want to be traded. That seemed to change this season with his career breakout, but again during the postseason he fell into dis-favor with what was seen as his lack of defense or physicality. Nylander again is on the unhappy place list.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

I would guess, as I wrote yesterday, that making a decision about goalie Jack Campbell is the team’s first order of business during the offseason. Campbell has some warts: he’s 30 years old; he’s not put together a long NHL track record; he hasn’t won a playoff series yet. 

Related: NHL Rumors: Oilers, Maple Leafs, Blackhawks, Bruins, Canucks

Still, if the team’s first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning is an indication of this team’s potential with Campbell, he seems like a good horse to bet on. As I noted, I think the team hit a home run when they traded for Campbell in February 2020. 

Speaking about Dubas in this post, that was a good Dubas move. It cost the team very little. Now, I’m waiting to see what happens next.