As the Toronto Maple Leafs sit watching, the team that came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat them – the Montreal Canadiens – just keep on winning. With the great Carey Price leading the way, the team has gone into Winnipeg and beat the Jets two straight to take a 2-0 series lead.
That’s five wins in a row now for the Canadiens, and I can’t but wonder if the Maple Leafs’ organization is looking back and making notes about what makes the Canadiens different from the team Toronto put together for a similar attempt at a Stanley Cup run.
As all these lessons go on in the background, the Maple Leafs have been making news within the organization. I this post, I’ll share some of this news along with a rumor that’s emerged.
Item One: Say Goodbye to Kenny Agostino
Kenny Agostino signed a two-year contract with Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod of the KHL two days ago. Agostino has been around the NHL a bunch, but he spent the past two seasons playing within the Maple Leafs’ organization. He got into one game this season with the big club but spent most of his time with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies over the past two seasons and was arguably he Marlies’ best player over those seasons.
In 2020-21, he scored nine goals and 13 assists (for 22 points in 22 games) and in 2019-20 he scored 27 goals and added 22 assists (for 49 points in 53 games). Good luck to him as he pursues his career in Russia.
Item Two: Will Zach Bogosian Return?
In all the final media interviews, I really saw or heard little of Zack Bogosian since the season’s end. Here’s hoping he returns. Every once in a while, it seems I see someone write a critique of Bogosian’s play from an analytics point-of-view; however, I think he was a solid roster member for the team all season.
In a recent article, Sheldon Keefe spoke about Bogosian. “He’s got great experience coming off of last season’s playoff and the elements that he brings to our defense helps us both at five on five and on the penalty kill, so it’s a nice addition for us.” Bogosian also would be a great partner as a bottom-pair veteran who can play with and mentor a young, skilled puck-mover like Rasmus Sandin. He’d be someone I might try to re-sign if I were general manager Kyle Dubas.
Item Three: The Maple Leafs Sign Pontus Holmberg to a Two-Year, Entry-Level Deal
On Friday, the Maple Leafs announced that they had signed Pontus Holmberg to a two-year, entry-level contract with the organization. Holmberg was the team’s sixth-round (156th overall) choice during the 2018 NHL Draft. Current news suggests that Holmberg will return to Vaxjo of the Swedish Hockey League for the 2021-22 season.
This past season, he scored nine goals and 23 points (for 32 points) in 45 games. Holmberg was also named the SHL’s Swedish Forward of the Year. The 22-year-old forward saved his best to last and stepped up his game in the playoffs by scoring seven goals and seven assists (for 14 points) in 17 postseason games. For that he was also named the SHL Playoffs MVP.
Item Four: Nick Robertson Missed Postseason with a Concussion
At the beginning of this post, I mentioned the Canadiens’ playoff success. Certainly, Cole Caufield’s teaming up with Nick Suzuki has been a great benefit for the Canadiens. That reminds me of Nick Robertson’s postseason and really even regular-season absence. It passed my mind to try to find out where he was.
It turns out that Robertson had suffered a concussion with the Marlies late in the season. It probably didn’t impact how the Maple Leafs deployed players; however, I have to wonder and hope that Robertson will return to the team heathy for the 2021-22 season.
Robertson seemed a bit snake-bit this past season. He was injured during his first game and as I recall during his first shift. Sadly, he then seemed to be scrambling all season long. After working so very hard to prepare for the season, it had to be a huge disappointment for the youngster.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
As I wrote about yesterday, a rumor that Toronto-native Zach Hyman had received a $5 million offer from the Maple Leafs and turned it down seemed to have garnered the interest of fans. Although Hyman’s agent Todd Reynolds immediately debunked the rumor, it’s there.
Given that this is the year of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft on July 21, fans can’t expect to hear anything about the status of Hyman’s re-signing with the organization for at least six weeks. No doubt the rumors will continue to fly around for a while yet. That also means there will be a lot of additional speculation for other free agent signings as well.
It should be an interesting offseason.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf