As the Toronto Maple Leafs watched their Marlies farm team get eliminated by the Charlotte Checkers, there is news both with the big team and with some of their prospects. This news and
Item One: Will the Maple Leafs Sign Fedor Gordeev to a Contract?
Fedor Gordeev, the 20-year-old Guelph Storm defenseman, had a good Memorial Cup tournament and hopes he can leverage that play into a signed contract with the Maple Leafs.
The Maple Leafs picked Gordeev in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft and must sign the prospect by June 1 if they don’t want to lose his rights. If the team doesn’t sign Gordeev, he would be eligible to re-enter this year’s NHL Draft in Vancouver.
Gordeev admits there hasn’t been progress on a deal but hoped a good performance at the Canadian major junior championship would get the Maple Leafs’ attention. As he suggests, “This tournament (is) obviously big for me. So just trying to show myself and get a contract hopefully.”
Gordeev has another year of junior hockey left, but hopes to play in the American Hockey League next season. He has one thing all NHL teams desire – his size. Because he’s 6-foot-7 and 224 pounds, it’s hard to believe the Maple Leafs won’t take a chance on him. Young defensemen with size, strength, and reach can be hard to find.
Storm general manager and head coach George Burnett was impressed enough with Gordeev’s size, skating, and skill that he re-acquired him from the Flint Firebirds. Burnett notes, “He’s not fun to play against when he’s on his game and he’s able to play against highly skilled players because of his reach and his skating ability and his mobility for a guy that’s that big.”
Burnett sees “some special qualities there.” Burnett says if he doesn’t try to do too much, he’ll find success. “When he moves the puck and joins the rush, you can’t stop him.”
Item Two: The Maple Leafs Will Sign Paul McFarland as a Coach
Both Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported that the Maple Leafs would announce that Paul McFarland has been hired as a coach. Interestingly, this announcement comes soon after the announcement that former Maple Leafs player and recent coach D. J. Smith left the team to become the new head coach of the Ottawa Senators.
Some older Maple Leafs fans might recall that Smith played 11 games for the team (eight games in 1996-97 and three games in 1999-00) and scored an assist. He also played 34 games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2002-03 and scored a goal. Smith has a goal and an assist in 45 NHL games.
McFarland ran the Florida Panthers’ power play last season. McFarland’s hire augurs the departure of coach Jim Hiller, who ran Maple Leafs’ power play this season. Hiller was given permission to seek other opportunities and has been linked to the Nashville Predators.
Item Three: Are the Winnipeg Jets After Nazem Kadri?
Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun reports that Kevin Hayes will not likely re-sign with the Winnipeg Jets, so the team will seek other options. When Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders signed an extension, that flushed him from the market. However, the Maple Leafs’ Nazem Kadri remains a possibility.
Wiebe notes that Kadri would bring something different and valuable to the Jets. Kadri is an “ornery type” who can score. Although Kadri is playing on the Maple Leafs’ third line, he regularly gets 50 points per season and has scored over 30 goals twice in his career. Furthermore, because the Maple Leafs’ cap situation is tight (Winnipeg’s is as well), Kadri might become available.
What also makes Kadri a prime target is that his $4.5 million AAV is cap-friendly. The attraction for the Jets is that they might get a second-line
Item Four: Maple Leafs Prospect Ian Scott Named Top Goalie in the CHL
The Maple Leafs’ future goaltending depth is looking stronger. On Saturday, Ian Scott (who was selected 110th overall in 2017 and signed an entry-level contract last December), was named the Canadian Hockey League’s goaltender of the year. Scott had a great season playing for the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, winning 38 of his 49 starts and leading the Raiders to first place in the WHL. He also carried his team to a 16-7 playoff record and its first Ed Chynoweth Cup since 1985.
Scott, a 20-year-old Calgary native, registered eight shutouts and finished second league-wide in goals-against average (1.83) and save percentage (.932). He was a seven-time winner of WHL’s Eli Wilson Goaltending Goaltender of the Week award, including three times in the postseason. In total, Scott played four seasons with the Raiders, with 87 wins in 175 appearances. He will likely challenge for a goalie job with the Marlies next season.
Item Five: William Nylander’s World Championships Are Finished
When Finland beat Sweden 5-4 in overtime on May 23, William Nylander’s very successful World Championships ended. Although he’s finished playing, at this point Nylander still leads all scorers at the World Championships. After eight games played, he had scored five goals and 13 assists for 18 points.
He had one of the finest individual performances in World Championship history. I’m hoping that success translates into next season’s Maple Leafs NHL season.
Marlies Season Over
The Marlies season came to an end in Game 6, 4-3 loss to the Charlotte Checkers in double-overtime on Sunday night on the road at Bojangles’ Coliseum. With the team loss, it also lost the opportunity to successfully defend its 2018 Calder Cup.
The Marlies had a great playoff run and were resilient all season. I will talk more about them in an upcoming post. Contragulations Marlies.