The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the most exciting teams in the NHL. They have a lineup infused by the addition of numerous rookies that have played a huge part in how the roster performs night in and night out.
Nikita Zaitsev, the young Russian blueliner, recently got his first goal of the season. Then there’s the trio of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander who continually get fans jumping out of their seats as they make incredible plays. The Air Canada Centre was rocking on Saturday night as the Leafs defeated the Penguins in overtime.
I can't remember the last time the ACC was this loud for a regular season game. pic.twitter.com/5WB2ChJy43
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) December 18, 2016
It was an electric atmosphere and the fans truly made it what it was. If the Leafs continue to build their team properly, expect many more nights like Saturday.
Maple Leafs Listening to Offers on James van Riemsdyk
James van Riemsdyk is an extremely valuable player for the Maple Leafs. He’s a big-bodied and extremely productive power forward that contending teams search for to help them take the next step.
It was reported on Saturday by Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos that the Maple Leafs are listening to offers for their scoring winger. They may not move the former second overall pick, but the Maple Leafs would be foolish not to hear any potential proposals.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) December 4, 2016
The winger is on an extremely cap-friendly deal. He is making $4.25 million and is signed through 2018. He currently has 12 goals and 22 points in 30 games this season.
It’s no secret that the Maple Leafs need some help on the defensive aspects of their game. Trading a valuable piece like van Riemsdyk could net the Leafs that much-needed top-pairing defenseman.
Lou Lamoriello, Toronto’s general manager, will want a significant return for his productive forward. They are looking for something in the neighborhood comparable to what they received for Phil Kessel.
Toronto’s Rookie Class Soaring to New Heights
It’s no secret that the most exciting players on the Maple Leafs are rookies. The aforementioned Matthews, Nylander and Marner lead the way with Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Zach Hyman and Connor Carrick in tow.
The big three have all put up over 20 points so far this year and continue to show why the Maple Leafs are finally on the right track back to respectability.
Some people have crunched the numbers and the projections for the Leafs rookies look fantastic. Both Marner and Matthews are on pace for more than 60 points, while Nylander is expected to hit between 57 and 60. The rookies are producing at a phenomenal rate.
Matthews has also seen an uptick in his production. The most recent first overall pick is playing more minutes against better competition. He’s thriving in his expanded role and is becoming a legitimate two-way threat. Mike Babcock is making sure that the development of Matthews and the rest of the rookies is his top priority.
He’s preparing them to be the cornerstones of the franchise and the initial results are all extremely positive. If everything goes well, the players will be keeping fans on the edge of their seats for years to come.