A handful of games into the NHL season and the Toronto Maple Leafs are already making headlines. They have an astounding crop of rookies lead by the most recent first overall pick, Auston Matthews. William Nylander and Mitch Marner have also generated their fair share of accolades with each passing game.
Mixed in with the positives is a fair share of negatives. The Maple Leafs have been unable to hold a lead in the third period and even though they are less than 10 games into the season, it is still a troubling stat. That is also something Mike Babcock and the coaching staff can hammer out as the season rolls on.
Even though the Maple Leafs have only one regulation win so far, there are some encouraging signs. Last year through the month of October, the Maple Leafs had four total points. This season, in their first five games they already have eclipsed that mark with five points.
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The Kids Are Alright
The Maple Leafs have a whole bunch of kids on the roster who have rejuvenated a fan base that desperately needed something to cheer about. Matthews scored four goals in his debut and has looked fantastic ever since. He’s found some early chemistry with Nylander and it has resulted in both of them tallying some early points.
Matthews has five goals and eight points while Nylander is right behind him with three goals and seven points. Mitch Marner only has three at the time of this article, but he contributes so much more to the game.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) October 15, 2016
He uses his blinding speed to wheel up the ice and create multiple chances in the offensive zone. The former London Knight is able to make these opportunities appear seemingly out of thin air. He is also tenacious on the backcheck when he loses the puck and works diligently to get it back on his stick.
He has all the tools to be a superstar in the NHL today. Pucks will begin to go in — it’s only a matter of time. Marner’s willingness to play incredibly hard without the puck is what has impressed most fans so far.
Milan Michalek Clears Waivers
The first waiver move of the Leafs season was a bit of a shocking one. Milan Michalek, the former Ottawa Senators forward, has cleared waivers and has been sent down to the Toronto Marlies.He has played this season on a line with Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri and accumulated a goal and an assist in five games.
Ben Smith takes over Milan Michalek's No. 18 with the #leafs.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) October 25, 2016
The Maple Leafs have also claimed Ben Smith off of waivers in response. Smith knows the system and can fill in as a fourth line checker. He will also be taking faceoffs on the penalty kill, something that Komarov and Zach Hyman, who are not natural centres, have been forced to do so far this season.
The real move was what happened to Connor Brown. The former Erie Otter was promoted to the line with Kadri and Komarov, where his offensive skills can be put to better use. It’s a good move for the Maple Leafs to make. Brown is young and hungry to put his scoring skills to work. The team has sold into the idea of young talent and Brown definitely fits the bill.
There are also rumours of the Anaheim Ducks and defenseman Hampus Lindholm swirling around. Could this move have been made to facilitate a potential trade? The smart money is no but keeping an option open is never a bad idea when it comes to a legitimate young stud like Lindholm.
My name is Anthony Fusco. Through school, I completed a joint degree involving an Honours B.A. in Journalism from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Videography and Broadcasting degree through Conestoga College.
I currently work for the University of Toronto as a Varsity Sports Announcer and for the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of their game presentation squad.
I’m also the play by play voice of the Kelowna Falcons, a baseball team located in British Columbia.
My goal is to one day be a hockey broadcaster.