With just under a quarter of the season left to play, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit third in the Atlantic Division and seemingly on a collision course to another first-round encounter with the Boston Bruins.
While the thought of that lingers in the minds of their fans, the team has had yet another run of individual marks and important moments over the past week as we look back on the week that was for the Maple Leafs.
Marchand, Marner and Reaching 80
Speaking of the Bruins, it was Boston forward Brad Marchand that made headlines when he commented on the status of Leafs’ Mitch Marner’s upcoming contract on Twitter.
I cant wait to see this kids new deal… 12m AAV?? It better be#Marnerwatch
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) March 5, 2019
The Bruins veteran later explained his comments regarding Marner after some took his tweet the wrong way, saying, “You gotta give the kid credit. he’s a great player that’s all I was trying to get at. He’s having a great year. It’s a big milestone for him. Just giving some credit where credit’s due that’s all.”
And Marchand has a point. Marner became just the fourth forward in Maple Leafs’ history to hit 58 assists in one season, according to Jonas Siegel. He also became the first Leafs player to record 80 points in 66 or fewer games since Doug Gilmour did it in 58 games in 1993-94 and just the eighth player in franchise history to hit the 80-point plateau in 66 games or fewer with a two-point performance against the Calgary Flames.
He joined Darryl Sittler who did it on four separate occasions (56 games in 1977-78, 59 games in 1979-80 and 64 games in 1975-76 and 1976-77), Doug Gilmour who achieved the feat twice (56 games in 1992-93 and 58 games in 1993-94), Dave Andreychuk (59 games in 1993-94), Lanny McDonald (64 games in 1975-76), Wilf Paiement (64 games in 1980-81), Frank Mahovlich (66 games in 1960-61) and Rick Vaive (66 games in 1983-84). Not bad company for the kid.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) March 5, 2019
On top of that, he became the first Maple Leaf to hit the 80-point mark in a season since Phil Kessel did it in 2013-14, scoring 80 points in 82 games.
Hyman, Rielly Reach Career Highs
While Marner is racking up his point total this season, two other Maple Leafs have set career highs in separate categories – both coming against the Flames in Calgary on Mar. 4.
The first was Zach Hyman, who scored two goals against Calgary. His second, which was also his 16th of the season, set a new career high for the 26-year-old who scored 15 goals in 82 games last season for the Maple Leafs. For a guy who is averaging 0.19 goals per game over his career, Hyman has seen increase production in that category this year – averaging 0.28 goals per game this season.
On the same goal, Morgan Rielly tallied his 47th assist of the season. The helper gave him one more than his total from last season – when he had 46 assists in 76 games – and a new career high at just 24 years old.
Andersen, A Leafs Legend?
Okay, I wouldn’t go that far just yet. That said, Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen set a mark of his own on Mar. 4 in Calgary. With his team pulling off the 6-2 victory and Andersen making 35 saves on 37 shots, Andersen tallied his 180th career victory and his 103rd as a Maple Leaf.
The win moved him past Lorne Chabot (102) and into a tie with Harry Lumley (103) for sixth place on the franchise all-time list for wins. While Lumley was able to accomplish the feat in 267 games as a Leaf, Andersen has done so in just 181 games in blue and white.
Next up for the Maple Leafs goalie is Mike Palmateer who sits at 129 wins – just 26 ahead of Andersen’s current mark.
The Fourth Line: Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits
On Mar. 2, against the Buffalo Sabres, John Tavares tallied his 70th point in his first season with the Maple Leafs. He became just the fourth player to do so in franchise history, joining Tom Fergus (73 in 1985-86), Eddie Olczyk (75 in 1987-88) and Nikolai Borschevsky (74 in 1992-93). Tavares is on pace to finish with 89 points this season.
Another big moment came in the Maple Leafs game against Calgary this past week as fourth-liner Tyler Ennis tallied three goals for his first career hat trick. He finished with three goals, a plus-two rating and six shots on goal in just under 12 minutes of ice time.
Two current players will get a chance to remain with the Maple Leafs for a while longer. Both Garret Sparks and Andreas Borgman signed extensions with the big club over the past week. For Sparks, it’s well-deserved after a solid AHL run last season, the 25-year-old is 7-5-1 this season with a 3.09 goals against average and .902 save percentage in 14 games played. The deal is a one-year extension worth $750,000 – good value from a team standpoint.
As for Borgman, he also signed a one-year extension with the Maple Leafs. The deal is a two-way contract and worth $700,000, according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Finally, to wrap things up, the Maple Leafs agreed to a contract with prospect Mac Hollowell on Thursday. The team’s fourth-round pick from 2018, Hollowell has 72 points in 59 games as a defenceman for the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds this season. His deal is a three-year entry-level deal at $925,000 per season.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.