It’s never a dull day for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the Expansion Draft and NHL Entry Draft a little over a month away, it’s clear that the Leafs have a tremendous amount of work to do. The club also has scouts over in Europe who are taking in the highly entertaining World Championships.
They Leafs have a couple of young studs who are currently lighting up the tournament. The Toronto Marlies have forced a do or die game seven in their semifinal playoff matchup and the Leafs made the first big splash of the offseason, landing a pair of Swedish defensemen.
Marner Bringing Leafs Rookie Season to Team Canada
Mitch Marner was superb as a rookie for the Maple Leafs this year. There were many questions before the season started about whether or not he would actually make the big team. Some said he was too small, while others said he needed more seasoning in junior hockey with the London Knights.
Marner almost immediately showed that all that talk was misplaced and went on to have a fantastic rookie season in the NHL. He totaled 19 goals and 61 points in 77 games. Nightly, he was the driving force on his line and was a constant threat at both ends of the ice.
Mitch Marner: good at hockey
1-0 Canada. pic.twitter.com/FSAqthp4nT
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) May 16, 2017
Marner didn’t have the greatest end to the regular season and his playoff performance seemed to lack that spark that propelled him most of the year. After the Leafs were eliminated, it came to light that he was recovering from mono, which explains everything.
Marner is now playing for Canada at the World Championships and looks fully recovered. He’s been arguably the team’s best player and has provided pivotal scoring to help the Canadian squad to a tournament-best 19 points and a 6-0-0-1 record.
The former London Knight has ten points, which ties him with Leafs’ teammate William Nylander for sixth in tournament scoring. The Canadians’ next game will be against Germany in the quarterfinals.
Nylander Showing off Leafs Top Rookie Skills
William Nylander is a really good hockey player. The crafty Swede has been impressing fans the world over with his recent play at the World Championships.
Whether it’s setting up chances or finishing a linemates’ feed, Nylander is all over the ice and is a constant threat on a potent Swedish offense. He has recently teamed up with Nicklas Backstrom, the centre who’s usually setting up a one-timers to be shot by Alex Ovechkin.
William Nylander making it all look effortless. #IIHFWorlds #Leafs pic.twitter.com/0ngi2pz1Im
— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) May 16, 2017
The two have combined for some incredible highlight reel passing plays and goals and continue to make the tournament their own personal playground. The former eighth overall pick had a strong first full NHL season and racked up 61 points courtesy of 22 goals and 39 assists.
He was one of the Leafs’ bests players all year and you can only imagine what he and Marner will do next year with the Leafs now that their confidence is sky high.
Leafs Ink a Pair of Swedish Defensemen
The Leafs, like most good NHL teams, are constantly looking for ways to improve their team. A big weakness this past year was the blueline. It was thin, porous and prone to giving up leads late in the game. It was a source of frustration and the team’s management and coaching staff made fixing it priority one.
In that spirit, they looked over to Sweden where they came away with a pair of free wallet signings in the form of Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman.
So who exactly are these Swedish mystery men?
Rosen was the first player rumoured to be signing with the Leafs. The 23-year-old, left-shooting defenseman most recently played with the Vaxjo Lakers of the SHL. He put up six goals and 19 points in 41 games this past season.
First impressions see Rosen as a good skater who had an absolute bomb of a one-timer. He’s mobile, makes a good first pass and is considered a two-way defender.
Borgman is a young defenseman who played for HV71 of the SHL. He had a great season, scoring five goals and ten assists in 45 games. He was also named the SHL’s rookie of the year for his performance.
He really kicked up his performance in the playoffs, where he had ten points in 14 games, which helped lead HV71 to a league championship. Borgman is a smart player who makes a great first pass. He’s also an incredible skater and is able to cover vast distances in effortless fashion.
The Leafs will bring these players into camp and give them an opportunity for next year. At worst, they will play for the Marlies, where they can learn the North American style game.
It’s a depth move for the Leafs who were thin on the blueline and defense prospects last year. It’s a smart step to take because in today’s NHL you can never have too much depth in your system.