As the 2015-16 season continues to crawl forward, fans of the Maple Leafs are are becoming more and more excited and anxious. The trade deadline looms large and the speculation of who stays and who goes has become all that some people talk about. It’s a very interesting phenomena.
This edition of Maple Leafs News will take a focus on goaltender, Jonathan Bernier, and the possible trade speculation around him, as well as Dave Keon and his decades long grudge with the Maple Leafs and the Toronto Marlies, who seemingly can’t be stopped.
Jonathan Bernier Being Shopped?
At this point in the NHL season, the Maple Leafs are beginning their trade preparations. They have coaxed as much value as they could out of certain players and it is now time to jettison them in favour of picks and prospects. Fans have heard all the likely names to be moved already. Brad Boyes, Michael Grabner, P.A. Parenteau, Shawn Matthias and Roman Polak are the usual suspects.
But what about Jonathan Bernier? It’s Lou Lamoriello’s first year with the team. He’s looking to leave a mark and prove that he has a plan. Bernier’s value is low right this second. Still, he could prove to be a valuable asset to a team that needs depth goaltending in the playoffs. He has one more year at a reasonable cap hit before hitting unrestricted free agency. It might be worth the risk if a team decides to bite.
Dave Keon Welcomed to Legends Row
This past Saturday night saw the Maple Leafs honour the newest three players who will receive a statue on Legends Row. Tim Horton, Turk Broda and Dave Keon were the recipients this time around. I was born too late to see Dave Keon in his prime or at all. However, I’ve learned from my dad that he was a prolific scoring forward and arguably the best Maple Leaf ever.
I decided to do some digging and see why Keon had a long grudge with the organization. It stemmed from his treatment at the hands of Harold Ballard, the former owner of the Buds. Ballard clashed with many players over the years and Keon was no different. Ballard had blasted Keon at the beginning of the 1974-75 season and told him that his leadership was not up to snuff.
Keon’s contract expired at the end of that year and Ballard made it abundantly clear that there was no room for him with the Blue and White any longer. He was allowed to make a deal with another NHL team as long as the Leafs received some compensation in return. Ballard raised the price so high that no team would come close to making an offer. The Leafs had no plans to keep Keon and he was basically blocked from going to another team.
"I always believed Legends Row would not be complete without Dave Keon." – Darryl Sittler on Keon and the Leafs settling differences.
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) January 21, 2016
It was an ugly spat and one that is hopefully at its end now. Keon is back and is going to be immortalized in bronze. It’s a great moment for a very deserving player who can now hopefully put the nasty parting behind him for good.
The Toronto Marlies Are Rolling
The Marlies knew that they were going to have a strong team this coming year. Lead by William Nylander, the team was expected to do great things. Head coach, Sheldon Keefe, has made quite the impression and has gotten the Marlies to play a tough and sustainable style. His teachings have sunk in and the Marlies couldn’t be happier.
They sit in first place in both the North Divison and the AHL as a whole with a record of 34-8-2. That’s good for 70 total points. The next closest team would be the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, who have 59.
TJ Brennan is playing a key role and has 42 points in 43 games for the Marlies. This feat is even more impressive when you consider he’s a defenseman. Key roles are also being played by Josh Leivo, currently up with the Maple Leafs, Brendan Leipsic, Zach Hyman and Nikita Soshnikov. Mark Arcobello also deserves some credit.
Mark Arcobello named AHL Player of the Week after tallying 4 goals and 3 assists last week for Marlies.
— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) January 25, 2016
Let’s not forget William Nylander, who is nearing a return from a concussion sustained at the World Juniors. The Marlies also recently welcomed back Connor Brown, who was out with a broken bone in his ankle. He scored twice in his return to the active roster.
The future of the Maple Leafs is currently on the Marlies. They are being taught the right way to play and win and those teachings will only help them when they make a transition up to the big club. The future is bright for the Leafs and every day brings it a little bit closer to success.