The Toronto Maple Leafs are a playoff contending team. Between the play of rookies such as Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Connor Brown, and the goaltending of Frederik Andersen, the Leafs have gathered a ton of points and are closing in on a spot in the Atlantic Division.
They also have some great prospects playing in the World Juniors and the Canadian Hockey League. If you like exciting hockey and a bright future, it’s a great time to be a fan of the Blue and White.
Maple Leafs Prospect Update
The Maple Leafs have a couple key pieces on the American squad at the World Juniors this year. The first is Jeremy Bracco, the diminutive scoring forward who plays for the Kitchener Rangers. Bracco, who was drafted in the second round in 2015, has been a big part of the American attack and has registered three goals and a pair of helpers in six games. He was also insturmental in the shootout that lead the American team to a gold medal berth.
Not to be outdone, American goaltender, Joseph Woll, has also been a steady presence between the pipes. Drafted 62nd overall this past year by the Leafs, the goaltender has won both games he’s played and owns a sparkling 1.50 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. He was also the goaltender who defeated Canada in the round robin.
Rounding out the Leafs at the Juniors, is Swedish forward, Carl Grundstrom. An alternate captain for the powerhouse Swedes, Grundstrom has been a force and has three goals and seven points through six games. He’s a hardworking winger who is a great presence in the dressing room.
— CanadianHockeyLeague (@CHLHockey) January 3, 2017
There is also a Leafs prospect that deserves the spotlight. Adam Brooks, a forward with the Regina Pats of the WHL, is on a historic pace. Brooks was recently named the Canadian Hockey League player of the week, which is another award he’s received on the season.
He currently has 21 goals and 65 points in 30 games and is looked upon as a leader. The Pats are looking to make a significant run this year and Brooks will be a huge part of how far they go.
Resetting The Focus
With 2017 officially here, many people have gone ahead and made New Year’s resolutions. In that spirit, what should the Maple Leafs’ New Year resolution be? An obvious one is to stop blowing leads, especially late in the third period.
The team is comprised of many exceptionally talented rookies who are learning what it means to survive in the NHL. Mike Babcock, the decorated head coach, is sending them over the boards in all types of situations in order to have them grow and learn how to achieve success at the highest level of hockey.
Connor Brown goal pic.twitter.com/KcxH8FVW6p
— steph (@myregularface) January 4, 2017
This means that there will be blown leads as the year goes on. The good and the bad go hand in hand with a team this young. You have to trust in the process and in the fact that these players are learning from each of these experiences.
Babcock warned that there would be pain in the rebuilding process. If you think about it, the Maple Leafs are really in the second year of their rebuild. The incredible thing is that the rookies and goaltending are guiding the team and they are currently in the hunt for a playoff spot in the Atlantic.
Marner: "We all want to make the playoffs and obviously go far in them."
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) January 2, 2017
The plan this year was to let the kids play and develop their skills. The aim was not to be a playoff contending team. The fact that they are close to a playoff berth is a testament to how good these young players have been. Fans are getting hungry and impatient. They can see the results of the rebuild unfolding right before their eyes and they’re enjoying watching the team play.
It’s time to reset focus. Blown leads are frustrating. The team is young and learning how prevent mistakes so that it’s not an issue in the future. Fans’ expectations have been raised because the product on the ice has impressed so much. The team is ahead of schedule and right now is the perfect time to remember that the plan is still in place and to expect a bit more pain.