Now firmly into their second rebuilding year, the Toronto Maple Leafs have turned a lot of heads. There are positives and negatives associated with what we’ve seen after ten games, but the overwhelming response has been incredibly positive.
The trio of rookies has performed far above expectations. William Nylander and Auston Matthews have formed instant chemistry and generate a multitude of chances every game. Mitch Marner, the former London standout, has shown great offensive flashes as well as the ability to play extremely well without the puck.
Mike Babcock said that there is pain coming. He said it during his introductory press conference when he was first hired by the Maple Leafs. That statement rings true a year later. The Buds have a talented team that is among the youngest in the NHL. They are learning to grow and play and a learning curve is to be expected. However, the team is making huge strides and will continue to get better as the games go on. Trust in the process and be patient.
Nylander Named Rookie of the Month
Auston Matthews has generated a ton of hype in his short career with the Maple Leafs. Scoring four goals in your NHL debut will do that. Despite a very positive October for the young American, it was his linemate Nylander who was selected as the top rookie for the month of October.
— NHL Network (@NHLNetwork) November 1, 2016
Nylander had seven assists and 11 points in nine games and was a force for the Leafs almost every night. He also had four multi-point games through the month. The crafty Swede was selected eighth overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft and has blossomed into a young star.
Frederik Andersen Has Settled Down
When the Leafs traded for Frederik Andersen and quickly signed him to a five-year deal, many people took notice. Goaltending with the Maple Leafs is a notoriously difficult position to fill, and hasn’t seen much success in recent seasons.
Andersen is now the default number one goalie in Toronto. There is no controversy about who should start between him and Jhonas Enroth. It’s a refreshing change of pace for a franchise that needed some stability in goal.
Andersen’s career in Toronto got off to a rocky start. In his first five starts, he had a 4.29 goals-against average and a .851 save percentage. He was 1-1-3 in those games.
In his last three starts, he has settled down and found his rhythm. He’s since posted a 2-1-0 record with a 2.03 goals-against average and a .944 save percentage. He has looked more and more comfortable and has responded with some huge and timely saves.
Marlies Making Headlines
The Toronto Marlies have been an extremely exciting team the past few seasons. They are helping to develop the Leafs talent and many of their current players have spent time with them in the AHL. That includes Zach Hyman, Connor Carrick and the aforementioned Nylander.
The Marlies are 6-1-1 to start the year and currently sit at the top of their division. Two Marlies players recently made headlines for taking home some awards. Goaltender Antonie Bibeau, who was drafted in the sixth round in 2013, was named the AHL’s top goalie for the month. He currently sports a .944 save percentage to go along with his sparkling 1.64 goals-against average.
Sticking with the Marlies, a forward was also honoured for his productive October. Brendan Leipsic, who was part of the deal that sent Cody Franson to Nashville, put up 13 points in eight games which earned him the AHL’s player of the month award.
He’s been an extremely productive player dating back to last season where he helped the team in the postseason with his scoring and leadership. The Maple Leafs have a ton of young talent coming through the pipeline, and the Marlies have been an extremely effective tool to help with the transition so that they can make an eventual push for an NHL roster spot.