Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Hildeby, Woll, Nylander & Matthews

In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at some of the news emerging from the organization. Although the Maple Leafs are out of the postseason playoffs, the Toronto Marlies are not. As a result, there have been player moves to restock the Marlies with goalies Joseph Woll and Dennis Hildeby.

As well, for the first time in what seems like forever, there is a spate of rumours floating around. I will report on one of them. William Nylander, whose team-friendly contract makes him the lowest-hanging fruit in the Maple Leafs’ Core Four, has been rumoured to be on his way to the Colorado Avalanche.

Item One: Goalie Dennis Hildeby Re-Assigned to Toronto Marlies

Swedish goalie prospect Hildeby was assigned to the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Marlies yesterday. He had been called up to the NHL Maple Leafs on a temporary basis as an emergency goalie.

Dennis Hildeby Toronto Maple Leafs
Dennis Hildeby, Toronto Maple Leafs (Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Hildeby, who is 21 years old, had a solid performance during the 2022-23 season with Farjestad BK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). In 21 games, he recorded a 2.26 goals-against average (GAA) and a .918 save percentage (SV%). 

Related: Maple Leafs’ Prospect Hildeby Rising Among Swedish Goalies

He’s been sent back to the AHL for further development and playing time. I’m guessing that he might not see action during the AHL Calder Cup playoffs because there are too many other goalies ahead of him in the system. The Marlies lost to the Rochester Americans on Saturday in Game 2 of the North Division Final. Rochester now leads the best-of-five series 2-0.

Item Two: Joseph Woll Heads Back to Marlies

Rookie NHL goalie Joseph Woll played well (making 40 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers in Game 5) but could not help his team win their second-round series. After giving up two early goals in the elimination game, Woll had a strong performance and gave his Maple Leafs a chance to mount a comeback. However, the team’s efforts fell short in overtime and their season ended.

Joseph Woll Toronto Maple Leafs
Joseph Woll, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The speculation is that Woll could have a significant role with the Maple Leafs during their upcoming 2023-24 campaign. There’s a chance that Ilya Samsonov could depart as a free agent. It’s also likely that goalie Matt Murray’s inconsistency, injury troubles, and high salary will force the team to make a trade.

Related: Canadiens’ Retired Jerseys – the Story of a Famed Franchise

Like Hildeby, Woll was assigned to the AHL Marlies where he’ll try to help them win their Calder Cup Playoffs. During his 2022-23 AHL season, he put up a 16-4-1 record with a 2.37 GAA and a .927 SV% in 21 games.

Item Three: Rumors of a Possible Trade for William Nylander

Today there was a rumour of a possible trade between the Colorado Avalanche and the Maple Leafs involving Nylander. The speculation was based on comments made by Jeff Marek during the 32 Thoughts podcast. Marek suggested that the Avalanche could be a potential landing spot for Nylander.

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According to Marek, the Avalanche might be without Valeri Nichushkin and Gabriel Landeskog. If so, they could benefit from adding a dynamic offensive player like Nylander to their roster. However, the article also acknowledges that it would be challenging for the Avalanche to put together a trade package that would satisfy the Maple Leafs.

Marek mentioned that the Maple Leafs were not interested in prospects or draft picks because they’re not rebuilding. Instead, they would likely be looking for effective players to replace him. The speculation raised the possibility of players like Bowen Byram, Devon Toews, or Samuel Girard being included in any trade package.

However, as in so many rumours, it’s entirely speculation because who knows whether the Avalanche would be willing to part with any of these players.

Item Four: Matthews Notes that He Wants to Stay in Toronto

In his exit media interview, Auston Matthews expressed his intention to remain with the Maple Leafs. He was clear that Toronto was his priority and he believed a contract extension could take place before the start of the 2023-24 regular season. 

Related: Lorne “Gump” Worsley: The Story of an Icon

Matthews emphasized how much he enjoyed playing in Toronto and the value this organization and (especially) his teammates held for him. That’s good news for fans who would like to see Matthews return to the team. There has been speculation and concern about the potential that he’d test the free-agent market. 

Auston Matthews Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

All that said, it’s good that Matthews wants to stay with the team, but the issue is his contract situation. Because he has negotiated a no-movement clause that comes into effect on July 1, if negotiations don’t progress well or if there’s a gap between the two sides, the Maple Leafs could consider exploring trade options. 

Item Five: Mitch Marner Wants to Stay in Toronto

Similar to Matthews, Mitch Marner expressed his desire to remain with the Maple Leafs. Despite the team’s early exit from the playoffs, Marner stated that his goal was to play for the Maple Leafs. Similar to Matthews, Marner also emphasized his gratitude for the chance to play for this organization. It would seem that this is a close team.

Related: Grading the Maple Leafs’ Matthews, Marner & Murray

However, when he was asked about his future with the team, he mentioned that his no-movement clause would take effect on July 1. Although uncertainties remain about the team’s management and even potential trades, Marner did not waiver about his desire to remain in Toronto and his hope to continue playing in this market.

In an interesting comment, although he noted he will focus on the disappointment of the team’s early playoff exit, it will only be for a short while. Marner thought that in about a week he would start to think more about the upcoming season and would strive to become the best player he can be.

What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?

There continues to be ongoing speculation about other aspects within the Maple Leafs’ organization. These include the possible search for a new general manager, perhaps a new head coach, and certain decisions about the team’s roster composition. 

It would see that, the first of any decisions would be the decision about who will be in charge of the team and the decisions the team will make. Nothing would seem possible until that key decision has been made.

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