The World Cup of Hockey is into its final round. It will be Team Canada taking on upstart Team Europe, who defeated Sweden in overtime to secure their finals berth.
While the eyes of the hockey world will certainly be tuned into this best of three series, there is tons of other hockey going on as well. The Toronto Maple Leafs opened their most recent training camp and some interesting points have already revealed themselves.
Joffrey Lupul’s Statement
Joffrey Lupul is a player many fans can get behind and root for. When he plays, he is a talented forward capable of scoring goals or setting up his linemates. However, Lupul has had health problems his entire career, often leading him to miss large chunks of the season.
That was the case this past year, where injuries took their toll and ended up sidelining him for most of the season. He was going to take the summer to rest and heal up to be ready for training camp. Everything appeared to be on track, until the day that he issued this statement through the Maple Leafs.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) September 22, 2016
It’s a very tough time for the forward, who will be starting the season on the injured reserve list. It’s hard not to feel bad for Lupul, who has seen his career derailed by a series of ailments. Lupul will no doubt try and work his way back into playing shape at some point, but if, and when, he does are the real questions here.
Matthews and Rielly Shine at World Cup
Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly were studs at the World Cup of Hockey. Even though Team North America didn’t advance out of the round-robin stage, they certainly put on quite a show with their speedy and exciting brand of hockey.
When Aaron Ekblad went down with a concussion, Rielly was the defenseman to step up and play big minutes in his absence. He collected a goal and an assist in the tournament but was also heavily relied upon to shut down the other team’s best players. The former Moose Jaw Warriors star also used his body positioning and excellent skating to navigate the puck out of trouble on numerous occasions.
What hasn’t already been said about Auston Matthews? He is an NHL player, despite not yet playing in an official NHL game. He started the tournament as a 13th forward but was quickly able to work his way up the lines and would eventually spend a substantial amount of time playing alongside Connor McDavid.
— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) September 21, 2016
He finished the World Cup with two goals and three points in three games, while making some highlight reel plays along the way. Maple Leafs fans are going to be very excited for the most recent first overall pick to make his NHL debut in a few short weeks.
Training Camp Notes
William Nylander will be sporting a new number on his back for the upcoming season. The new number will be 29, which works on a couple of levels. Lou Lamoriello, the veteran general manager, likes his players to wear lower numbers. Nylander’s 29 definitely falls well into that range.
The second reason is for his father Michael, who was an NHL player with the Hartford Whalers, Calgary Flames, Tampa Bay Lightning, Chicago Blackhawks, Washington Capitals and New York Rangers. The elder Nylander wore 92 for his career and William’s pick of 29 is the reverse of those numbers.
When you think of the Maple Leafs young talents, Mitch Marner is one of the first names that comes to mind. The incredibly skilled London Knights forward has been working hard this offseason to put on the weight necessary to survive and thrive in the NHL.
As of the opening of training camp, he’s listed at six feet tall and an even 170 pounds. Take those numbers with a grain of salt, as they are usually slightly embellished. It’s also worth noting that a player like Marner can play a significant role in the NHL today. Just ask Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane or Tyler Johnson.
The Maple Leafs will certainly have more emerging storylines was training camp rolls on. It’s a year of optimism for the club, who appear to be on the right track with the rebuilding of this proud franchise.