With the end of the 2015-16 season, many thought that would potentially be the end of the news regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs for the year. This would not be the case, as the Maple Leafs and their many players and prospects are all doing something noteworthy.
This ranges from the AHL’s Marlies, who are in a battle with the Hershey Bears to determine which club will play for the Calder Cup, to the London Knights and Mitch Marner, who are attempting to win a Memorial Cup out in Red Deer.
As always, if you’d like to go back and read the previous edition of Maple Leafs News, it is available right here.
Marner and Knights Are Dominant
Everyone knew that Mitch Marner was a great prospect. The Maple Leafs took the forward fourth overall in last years NHL Entry Draft. He was coming off of a 126 point season in the OHL and Leaf fans knew they were getting a skilled and very special prospect.
Marner followed up his draft year by leading the London Knights in 2015-16. He put up 116 points and was named the 2016 OHL Regular Season MVP. The accolades didn’t stop there as the Knights fought their way to the Memorial Cup, with Marner being named playoff MVP along the way with an insane 44 points in only 18 games.
So Mitch Marner has 13 points through 19 Knights goals.
— Joe Piazza (@LAOJoe) May 25, 2016
Two games into the Memorial Cup and Marner has already compiled 13 total points, which is good for first in scoring. Behind him are two of his teammates on the Knights, Christian Dvorak and Olli Juolevi, who have ten and six points respectively.
The Knights are trampling anyone set before them. They are getting contributions all the way down their lineup, but they rely heavily on their top line. Marner and company will need to continue being spectacular in order to propel London into Cup contention.
No one has been able to stop these Knights yet, and with each passing game it looks more and more likely that no one this season will. The Knights will now play for the Memorial Cup, and Marner will have a shot at tournament scoring history.
Maple Leafs Well Represented at Worlds
The IIHF World Championships recently wrapped up. After falling to Canada, the United States and Auston Matthews were set to duke it out against host Russia for the bronze medal. Russia ended up winning the game and the United States walked away empty-handed.
Frank Vatrano to Auston Matthews for the goal pic.twitter.com/4cpCdpQvRH
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) May 19, 2016
Matthews had a fantastic tournament though, with his play turning a lot of heads. He finished with six goals and nine points in nine games.
Nikita Zaitsev, the defenseman signed by the Maple Leafs to a one-year contract back on May 2, also had his share of shining moments for Russia, who captured the bronze medal on home soil. He was also named one of the tournament’s top two defensemen by the media. The smooth skating Russian averaged 15:31 a game and put up four points through the tournament.
The Maple Leafs were very well represented in the gold medal game with Leo Komarov and Finland taking on reigning champion Canada led on the blueline by Morgan Rielly. Komarov played very well throughout, but it was Rielly and Canada who came away with the gold.
As the noted talent evaluator Craig Button said four or five months ago Morgan Rielly looks to be a legit No 1 def in this league
— Jim Matheson (@NHLbyMatty) May 23, 2016
Rielly was an excellent puck mover the entire tournament. He was relied upon to be the teams top defender, a job he did without question. He played the games exactly the way Mike Babcock would have wanted. It’s a huge step for the defenseman, and the experience is sure to pay off in the coming years with the Maple Leafs.
Rielly also managed to lead Canada in ice time in games against Finland and the United States. In the finals against Finland he was sent over the boards a ton and racked up over 25 minutes. He was the player most on the ice for four of Canada’s games. Those were all against top competition, which makes the feat even more impressive. He also managed to score a goal and add a couple helpers.
Many Maple Leafs represented the team and themselves very well. The more experience the better for these players, especially the younger ones, who will be heavily relied upon next year to lead the Leafs into a good season.