It’s easy to forget how lucky Toronto Maple Leafs fans are. The squad that is iced nightly is easily the most talented and exciting team of the past five or more years. They have a glut of young talent including first overall pick Auston Matthews, former London Knights standout Mitch Marner and Swedish sensation William Nylander.
They are a young team on the rise. That will mean a lot of excitement but at the same time, some very frustrating moments as they make their way in the NHL and attempt to become a great team.
Public Service Announcement:
‘There Will Be Pain’
The Maple Leafs are a young team. It’s officially year two of the rebuild, and it appears that some people have forgotten that fact. They are expecting the Leafs to come flying out the gate and beat every opponent night in and night out. The problem is that way of thinking is unrealistic at this point in time.
The Maple Leafs are building towards becoming a team that expects to win every single night. That’s why they brought Mike Babcock in as the head coach. His influence and attitude are already making the Leafs a better team and that should only continue as the players mature and grow together.
Until that happens, there are going to be some frustrating moments. Early on in the season, the Leafs had a problem holding a lead in the third period. Lately, the trend has been losing games that they should win. A perfect example is their most recent game against the Colorado Avalanche.
Despite the Leafs firing an astounding clip of shots, Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was able to make 51 saves and hold the Leafs to a single goal. The Leafs played really well and at the end of the night, had virtually nothing to show for it. That’s where the frustration stems from.
The Leafs are young and exciting. They are actively working on getting better and more competitive. The current team is also a substantial upgrade over any team in recent history. Would you rather have Matthews, Marner and Nylander or David Clarkson, Tim Gleason and Frazer McLaren? The choice seems pretty clear. It’s an exciting year. Fans should sit back and enjoy the ride.
Peter Holland is Arizona Bound
Peter Holland hadn’t made it into a Leaf game in some time. With only a single assist in eight games this season, his production had taken a substantial hit. Holland was frustrated with the lack of playing time and Lou Lamoriello was finally able to pull the trigger and make a deal.
Holland was sent to the Arizona Coyotes for a conditional draft pick in 2018. If the former Guelph Storm forward is re-signed or traded by the Coyotes, the Maple Leafs will receive a 2018 sixth round pick. If neither of those things happen the Leafs will receive nothing in return.
Coyotes fans: Peter Holland went to pretty much every community engagement the Leafs were part of; in-season and summer. You'll love him.
— Steve "Dangle" Glynn (@Steve_Dangle) December 9, 2016
Holland was originally a Dave Nonis acquisition. The new regime of Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello wanted to move on and continue with their rebuild. The circumstances were unfortunate, but Holland simply didn’t fit into the Leafs’ current plans.
The Maple Leafs want to build a winning team. All roster spots, whether they are first line or fourth line, matter in this regard. There are still going to be a bevy of changes to the roster over the course of the season. Nothing is set in stone, so be prepared to see moves you like and moves you don’t.
Building a team is all about tinkering until you have the right parts. The Leafs are in their tinkering phase and will continue to search for the right players to put them over the top.