Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Manson, Dahlstrom, Forwards & Muzzin

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, we’ll look at the rumor that Josh Mansion might be targeted by the organization as a trade deadline acquisition. We’ll also look at the recent play of depth defenseman Carl Dahlstrom and the status of the injury to defenseman Jake Muzzin. As well, we’ll comment upon the health of the Maple Leafs’ forward units and what that might mean over the near future.

Item One: Are the Maple Leafs In on Josh Manson?

We see a lot of talk about the Maple Leafs going after the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson as a rental defenseman. While we would love to see Manson in a Blue and White uniform, even if it’s for just a month or two, we have to ask, does anyone think the Ducks would deal Manson see where they are in the standings – at least right now?  

Carter Rowney Josh Manson Anaheim Ducks
Carter Rowney and Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Ducks currently sit second in the Pacific Division with 49 points. Because of the disparity of games played they are fourth in win percentage with .557, but the fact remains they are in the middle of a race for a playoff berth. Unless they are driving the proverbial 18-wheeler heading for the cliff, there’s no way that organization will consider dealing a 20-minute-a-night, top-four defenseman, unless they get something back that will help them in their own playoff run.

Related: Toronto Maple Leafs’ Nic Petan’s Personal Story of Tragedy and Charity 

The Maple Leafs aren’t going to offer the Ducks anything that would move their needle closer to the playoffs. Obviously, should that situation might change by the trade deadline, as a number of hockey pundits believe it will. If so, Manson is a player worth considering. But, not yet.

Item Two: The Play of Carl Dahlstrom

Carl Dahlstrom did okay in his debut with the Maple Leafs in the 3-1 win over the New York Islanders on Saturday night. In the 12:30 minutes he played, he was plus-1, was credited with one giveaway, but had zeros across the board in nearly everything else. He did take the one penalty.  

Former Chicago Blackhawks Carl Dahlstrom St. Louis Blues Alex Pietrangelo Carl Gunnarsson
Former Blackhawks’ defenseman Carl Dahlstrom – now with the Maple Leafs
(THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/David Banks)

To the eye test, he was invisible most of the night, which isn’t a bad thing for a depth defenseman. Usually, unless a defenseman is a so-called offensive defenseman, which Dahlstrom isn’t, he only gets noticed for mistakes. 

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Looking at Dahlstrom’s analytics, he was 50 percent for Corsi and 48 percent in expected goals. He did really well in Scoring Chances (85.7 percent) and was 2-0 for High Danger Chances.

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It’s important to remember however that one game does not a career make. Dahlstrom will turn 27 before the end of January and has 65 total games of NHL experience. He’s pretty far down the Maple Leafs’ depth chart. Still, it was still nice to see him have a strong game.

Item Three: Suddenly, the Maple Leafs Have Healthy Forwards

For the first time this season, when the Maple Leafs stepped on the ice for practice yesterday they had a full complement of forwards. As we all know, Ilya Mikheyev was injured way back in training camp. Just before he returned, Mitch Marner was hurt in the practice collision with Jake Muzzin. Then the revolving COVID-19 door hit.  

Yesterday Sheldon Keefe was able to put the lines together in the way he might have envisioned them at the start of the season. As has been well documented by now, the lines did look different than most of us thought they would. 

Related: Ducks News & Rumors: Zegras, Henrique & More

How long the lines look like this, we don’t know. They might change at practice today. We’re hoping everyone stays healthy for Wednesday’s game against the Ducks because we’re excited to see how this forward lineup might play.

Item Four: Jake Muzzin’s Injury Update

The only injury the Maple Leafs presently have is defenseman Jake Muzzin. The good news was that Muzzin was on the ice for some of the practice, albeit for a short period, and he was wearing a red no-contact jersey. In his post-practice media scrum, Keefe said Muzzin would be evaluated to see how he felt after being on the ice.  

Jake Muzzin Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Muzzin, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Keefe also said something else very interesting. He stated that Muzzin would probably not be ready for Wednesday’s game. That could be translated as meaning Keefe feels Muzzin won’t be out that long. 

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To us, the comment sounds as if Muzzin could play in some of the team’s three games in four nights starting Saturday. If he’s not able, the Maple Leafs not playing for five days following their Tuesday game in New Jersey (the All-Star break) will work in Muzzin’s favor. Barring a reinjury, Muzzin should be ready when the team starts its tough stretch in February. 

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

The return of a healthy Petr Mrazek has to be an exciting possibility for the team. What a month just passed for the Maple Leafs and the rest of the NHL as well. Mrazek will be needed shortly.

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

The most interesting development we can see is how the NHL standings might settle when postponed games have been made up. There are so many games in such a short time period, that really it’s up in the air about where teams are in the standings. There might be wild swings in who’s in and who’s out of the playoff picture that will be settled by early March. 

Related: Maple Leafs Need to Make a Decision on Mrazek

More coming after the All-Star Break.

[Note: I want to thank long-time Maple Leafs’ fan Stan Smith for collaborating with me on this post. Stan’s Facebook profile can be found here.]