In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share recent news from the team that is emerging from the organization.
Item One: Auston Matthews Is a Finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award.
On June 2, the NHL announced the three finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award, and Auston Matthews was among them. The other finalists were Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Although Matthews suffered a power outage during the postseason with only a single goal in 35 shots on net, he led the NHL with 41 regular-season goals in his 52 games.
Matthews was one of the Maple Leafs’ team leaders during the regular season, helping his team come in first in the North Division standings. He led the league in game-winning goals (with 12), shots on goal (with 222), and he came in second in even-strength scoring (with 31 goals and 22 assists for 53 points). Furthermore, he tied for fifth in NHL scoring with 66 points.
Item Two: Frederik Andersen Could Become a UFA During the Offseason
Frederik Andersen is staring into the future and isn’t sure what will happen. He could become – and likely will become – an unrestricted free agent (UFA) this off-season. As of yesterday’s report, he simply isn’t sure yet what will happen. He reported that he plans to talk with the Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas to explore whether there might be a plan that makes sense for himself and for his team for the past five seasons.
Sounding as if he plans to hit the road, Andersen shared that “I’ll definitely look back on these five years with a lot of good memories. With regard to the future, I don’t know what’s in store yet; we’ll have to see.”
It was a tough season for the Great Dane. Andersen believed that he didn’t have an opportunity to show Maple Leafs’ fans his best hockey during the 2020-21 regular season because of injury. Sadly for him but good for backup goalie Jack Campbell, Andersen’s injury likely cost him the role as the team’s No. 1 goalie.
In truth, his injury game the Maple Leafs a great chance to see Campbell in action over a long stretch. Campbell didn’t disappoint.
Item Three: John Tavares Is Healing Well from His Concussion and Knee Injury
On May 20, the Maple Leafs’ postseason plans took a hit when the captain John Tavares was run over by the Montreal Canadiens’ Corey Perry. The good word is that Tavares is making strong progress to overcome both the concussion and knee injury he sustained during Game 1 of the playoff series.
Tavares admitted that he felt “very fortunate, considering what I went through and the traumatic nature of the injury.”
Tavares added that “I’m really happy and thankful to be where I’m at today and make the progress that I have to this point. I’ll continue to get back to 100 percent health and get myself ready to play and compete as soon as possible.”
Item Four: Jake Muzzin’s Injury Was a Groin Injury
Yesterday, it was reported that the Game 6 injury Maple Leafs’ defenseman Jake Muzzin suffered was an injury to his groin. That injury caused Muzzin to miss Game 7, which was the team’s last game of the 2020-21 season.
Muzzin reported that, when he was skating back to the bench during the game, he heard a “pop.” Fortunately, the nature of that injury makes it unclear right now if Muzzin will be completely healed before the start of the team’s training camp in September.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
One of the next phases of the team’s plans are deciding who to resign as free agents for the upcoming 2021-22 season. There are a number of players who have expiring contracts and it will be difficult to know who the team might re-sign.
In a recent interview, general manager Dubas noted that a number of good possibilities presented themselves last season and he’d likely wait for a while before he committed.
Fans probably have differing opinions about players such as Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, and Jason Spezza. It will be interesting to see who Dubas extends contracts to. Maybe making a decision about Andersen and Zach Hyman will come first.
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