In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I weigh in on Maple Leafs’ young goalie prospect Joseph Woll. He doesn’t seem to get much love from those who assess the organization’s goalies, but I sure enjoyed watching him play last season.
However, that also seems to be true for both of the Maple Leafs’ NHL goalies Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov. I’ll share their very low rankings on the NHL’s Fantasy Hockey.
Finally, I’ll take a look at the possibility of William Nylander being traded. He’s so disparaged by fans, that a number of The Hockey Writers’ readers are beginning to speculate that Nylander will leave the team when his contract expires. While no one can know what goes on in Nylander’s head, one has to wonder if fans might be correct.
Item One: It Would Be Sad Not to See Joseph Woll Get a Chance
In recalling last season, one of the fun parts was to see the two young Maple Leafs’ goalies – Joseph Woll and Erik Kallgren – get a chance in prime time. As I’ve been reading on a number of Maple Leafs’ sites, neither of these young goalies are getting much appreciation from the writers. At their best, most seem to see both as AHL goalies, and perhaps as NHL backups at best.
An admission from me is that, apart from the obvious NHL star goalies like the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy or the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin, I have a tough time sorting out who’s elite, who’s good, and what goalies benefit from playing behind particular teams.
To me, Woll looked pretty good in the Maple Leafs’ net last season. Woll’s been in the organization for a long time. He was a 2016 draft choice. In his four games in the NHL, he posted a .911 save percentage and threw in a shutout to boot. It strikes me that, as the teams he’s played with have improved and as he’s matured, his stats have improved as well.
Woll’s now 24 years old; and, looking ahead at the coming season it’s tough to know where he might fit. Obviously, Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov block his way into the Maple Leafs’ net. If Murray (especially) can stay healthy, what happens to Woll?
The Maple Leafs’ organizational depth chart seems to be improving with youngsters like Kallgren, Dryden McKay, Keith Petruzzelli, and Luke Cavallin hoping to earn their way up the pecking order.
Woll will likely spend the season splitting the Toronto Marlies’ AHL starts with Kallgren. Interestingly, Woll is obviously intelligent and perhaps would have a career in hockey past his playing days. But, before that time, it will be interesting to see just how his NHL career (or his AHL career) works out first.
He’s a player I’ll be following this season.
Item Two: Maple Leafs’ Goalies Are Getting No Love from Fantasy Hockey
The opening of the 2022-23 regular season remains a while away. But in a recent NHL Fantasy Hockey review of the top NHL goalies, neither of the Maple Leafs NHL goalies were listed in the Top 25. Jack Campbell (now with the Edmonton Oilers) was listed at number six.
The Maple Leafs are betting on the duo of Samsonov and Murray to carry the team forward. But, neither is worth much in the fantasy world. Samsonov is ranked #28 and Murray #30.
A lot of questions will be answered for this team right out of the gate. A shutout or two in the first five games would do a lot to calm fans’ nerves.
Item Three: Betting that William Nylander Won’t Be Traded
Although William Nylander is vilified by Maple Leafs’ fans regularly, don’t bet on Dubas trading him or any of the Core Four. He’s stuck with them since he signed them and he might be betting his own house that they’ll succeed.
With specific regard to Nylander, the logic of keeping him makes sense. Unless he’s the tipping point in a trade for a huge player coming to the team, why would the organization move a player who scored 34 goals and 80 points last season? Nylander simply has too much value.
With hockey being such a physical game, what happens if one of the other Core Four suffers an injury? Perhaps the wiser idea would be to find a winger that would allow both Taveras and Nylander to shine. If Michael Bunting were the value-added to the first line, who knows what player might be the value-added to the second line?
Nylander is a fan favorite scapegoat. In fact, some THW readers are beginning to speculate that Nylander will simply move to another team when his Maple Leafs’ contract expires. As one reader said, “he is not appreciated by Leafs’ fans. Who wants to play on a team that seemingly wants you gone?”
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Matthew Knies is starting to assert himself at the World Junior Tournament in Edmonton. I’m seeing videos of his physicality on display. If he can continue with that physical play when he returns to the Maple Leafs after his season at the University of Minnesota is finished, that would make Maple Leafs’ fans exceedingly happy.
Could this be a season when a number of Maple Leafs’ prospects might burst upon the scene? The regular season is not far away.
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