Maple Leafs News: Gauthier, Kapanen, Bye Week & Bracco Trade

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most exciting teams in the NHL during the first half of the season. After finishing last the year prior, the Leafs were able to truly start their rebuild. They are one of the youngest teams in the NHL and are led by the likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and more.

Frederik Andersen has been a stellar presence in net and is also a big reason for the success of the Maple Leafs this season. They are a young team that will continue to grow and learn as the kids carve their path in the NHL. The rest of the season is going to be extremely exciting, especially as the Buds attempt to remain in the playoff hunt.

The Goat As the Fourth Line Centre?

The Maple Leafs were in need of a centre to anchor their fourth line. They put in a call to the Toronto Marlies and Frederik Gauthier was on his way up to replace the injured Ben Smith. Gauthier, who was the Leafs’ first round pick back in 2013, is a big-bodied presence who has been a fantastic addition to a young Maple Leafs team.

Gauthier has played in nine games this season and has collected two goals and an assist. Gauthier has impressed in his time with the big club. He’s becoming an effective shutdown centre that is steady on the draw. He’s also vastly improved his skating since his draft year, as it was one of his weaknesses.

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He has also become a fan favourite with the Maple Leafs faithful, by scoring a couple of goals and recently getting into a fight with Bobby Farnham of the Montreal Canadiens. Since his call-up, Gauthier has been a more reliable presence than Smith and if he keeps playing like he has, the Leafs would be wise to keep him around to develop with the rest of the young core.

Kasperi Kapanen Turning Heads

Kasperi Kapanen was a piece of the trade that sent Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was immediately sent to the Toronto Marlies where in 44 games, he put up nine goals and 25 points. The Finnish forward also made it into nine NHL games, and while he didn’t record any points, he had some impressive nights.

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This year, Kapanen looks extremely comfortable and has scored 16 goals and added 16 assists for a total of 32 points in 31 games. He’s also the youngest player in the top 25 AHL point producers so far this season and is on pace to hit 30 goals — a feat that hasn’t been seen on the Marlies since Ryan Hamilton accomplished it back in 2012-13.

The former World Junior Championship hero has been rewarded for his outstanding season and has been named to the 2017 AHL All-Star Classic for what will be his first appearance in the annual event. He’s shown a lot more consistency this year and has been the best Marlies forward almost every game. Look for him to be a potential call-up later this season.

Maple Leafs Bye Week

The NHL has done something different this year in regards to player safety. They have added in a mandatory five-day break that is designed to give the players a rest.

The bye week has drawn mixed reviews from players, coaches, and management throughout the league. The Maple Leafs will return to action Friday, Jan. 13 on the road against the New York Rangers before heading to Ottawa to face the Senators a day later.

Jeremy Bracco Traded

Jeremy Bracco (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)
Jeremy Bracco (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

One of the Leafs hottest prospects is officially on the move as Jeremy Bracco, who recently won gold with the American squad at the World Juniors, has been traded to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.

The Spitfires are hosting the Memorial Cup this year and wanted to solidify their scoring. Bracco is having an incredible year and has put up 17 goals and 51 points in 27 OHL contests.

The American won’t have to wait long to see his former team, as he’s expected to make his Spitfires debut on January 12th, when the Kitchener Rangers visit Windsor.