The dog days of summer have officially hit the NHL and their fans. The month of August is almost half over, however, which will mean a return of hockey in the very near future. The World Cup of Hockey is on the horizon and for fans of the Maple Leafs, this tournament is of huge importance.
There will be a small contingent of Leafs representing various countries including Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews for North America and the pesky, Leo Komarov for Finland. James van Riemsdyk will represent the United States, Milan Michalek will don the Czech jersey and new Leaf, Nikita Zaitsev, will be wearing Russian red. Mike Babcock will also be behind the bench for the Canadian squad.
While the tournament is definitely something to look forward to, there are some pressing issues the Maple Leafs will have to begin dealing with in the next week or so. The first will be Jimmy Vesey and where he decides to sign. The Buds will also need to keep a close eye on the situation revolving around Mitch Marner, as the season draws ever closer. Maple Leafs News will take a closer look at each situation.
Ever since the Harvard forward spurned the Nashville Predators, teams across the NHL have kept a close eye on where Vesey may decide to sign. The favourites out of the gate were the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks.
The sweepstakes will begin this coming Monday, August 15th for the coveted young forward. He’s an excellent player with high-end skill that should come at a bargain for the team that finally lands him. The Maple Leafs can make a substantial pitch to the talented forward.
For one thing, there’s a family connection. The Maple Leafs employ Vesey’s father as a scout. His brother Nolan is also a Leafs prospect in the pipeline. He was drafted in the sixth round, 158th overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
The Maple Leafs have many tools that they could employ to woe Vesey to their side. They will face stiff competition from other franchises with the winner getting an NHL ready young forward.
Marner Bolsters Chances of Making Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner had an unforgettable season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He won just about everything you could win, including an OHL Championship, the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player and CHL Player of the Year. He capped it off with a Memorial Cup and MVP honours.
It was an incredible season for the skilled forward. His next test will come when the Maple Leafs open their training camp. He’s aiming to make the Leafs this year and play alongside the likes of young guns like William Nylander and Auston Matthews. Mike Babcock and his staff have been keeping a close eye on Marner and Babcock believes he has a really good chance of sticking with the big club.
Marner is in an interesting spot. He’s seemingly too good for the OHL, but the rules forbid him playing for the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies next season. It’s the Knights or the Maple Leafs, there’s no middle ground. Based on everything seen so far, Marner appears ready to play in the NHL.
Neutral zone steal. Gets puck back. Corner bar. Another goal for Mitch Marner. pic.twitter.com/ysd2jCftt2
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) July 9, 2016
The Maple Leafs won’t rush a prospect like Marner into the NHL. They will bring him along slowly and make sure he’s completely comfortable. He will more likely than not play his ten games and after that, the Leafs will make a decision if he sticks full-time or not.
Marner is part of the future of the franchise. The Maple Leafs will make the best choice for his development. Personally, I believe he will stick in the NHL this season. He’s simply too good not to, and this fact will force the Leafs to make the decision based on his play and attitude.