Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Malgin, Nylander, Jarnkrok & Holmberg

Given the full Saturday of Toronto Maple Leafs’ games, it’s hard not to go wild speculating about the season even with such a small sample size. I was excited to see the team play for the first time this season, even if it was only a couple of preseason games. 

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In this edition of Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at a number of Maple Leafs’ players who impressed me with their play. 

Item One: William Nylander Was Everywhere

A few Maple Leafs’ players really stood out for me from the doubleheader. It was clear that William Nylander was the best player on the ice all day long. He was amazingly speedy, gifted with skills, and carried the offense almost every time I saw him. 

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Why he isn’t a center I don’t know. It also looked like Nylander had taken it upon himself to personally assure Denis Malgin found a home on the Maple Leafs’ roster. He sure worked hard to set his linemate up.

Item Two: Calle Jarnkrok Knew Where to Hang Out

Of the newcomers, Calle Jarnkrok looked the most experienced – because he is. He was a calm presence on the ice and seemed to fit well. I can see him playing almost anywhere on the lineup.

Related: Maple Leafs Commentary: Where Does Calle Jarnkrok Fit?

Jarnkrok reminded me of something ex-Maple Leafs’ coach Mike Babcock used to say about Ron Hainsey – he knew where to stand. Jarnkrok set up in the same place three times (at least) and scored two identical goals from that spot and one was stopped by a post. 

Item Three: Denis Malgin the Waterbug

One player who surprised me was Denis Malgin. I can see why the organization wanted to bring him back. Perhaps I saw what they’ve been seeing for the first time. Malgin looked good. 

Considering his place on the Maple Leafs’ roster, where might Malgin fit? He’s of Nick Robertson’s stature but, while Robertson looked more aggressively checking, he just didn’t seem to catch the flow of the team’s offense like Malgin did.

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Could Malgin fit on the second line? Although that seems to be pushing it, Michael Bunting has laid claim to his first-line placement and he doesn’t seem ready to lose it any time soon. So it’s a “could be” I suppose for Malgin in the team’s top-six. 

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Or he might become a mini-me of Pierre Engvall in the team’s bottom six. He has the speed and could likely transition from defense to offense well. 

Item Four: Sheldon Keefe Impressed by Malgin

One thing we know about Malgin is that Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe liked what he saw. Keefe noted that “It seemed like every time he touched the puck, something happened.” 

Denis Malgin Florida Panthers
Denis Malgin, when he was with the Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Keefe praise of Malgin was deserved. After Malgin’s failed first attempt to crack the Maple Leafs’ lineup during the 2019-20 season, it was good to see him move so quickly and confidently on the ice. It will be interesting to see where he lands in the lineup, but I’m pretty sure he’ll have a good chance to be there – somewhere. 

Item Five: I Need to Watch Pontus Holmberg More Closely

The threesome of Malgin, Nylander, and Pontus Holmberg always seemed to be in the Ottawa Senator’s zone – or moving there quickly. The truth is that I’m not so sure how Holmberg played into the line’s success because I couldn’t take my eyes off his two linemates. 

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Foligno, Stepan, Matthews & Bure

Could Holmberg become one Maple Leafs’ rookie who’s ready to take the next step upward? Holmberg looked impressive at the Traverse City Tournament. He started as the team’s third-line center, but moving him to the second-line helped his team. I’ll have to make a point to watch him more next game. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

What I saw in the doubleheader was a pleasant surprise. But I should have known better. Because I write every day, I also read every day. I don’t read everything about the Maple Leafs, but I do try. 

For a reader of most Maple Leafs’ articles, I had a horrible summer. It was so negative. The Maple Leafs’ writers, and there are many good ones to read, mostly did their jobs covering the team. But the comments from readers were depressing. 

I’m pleased we are now at a stage of the season where we can simply switch from what fans are angry about to how the players do on the ice. I, for one, will be happy to have this offseason behind us.

If the team fails on the ice, it fails. If it succeeds, it succeeds. It will be what it is, and I will try to write intelligently about how things go throughout the season.


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