Expectations for the Toronto Maple Leafs were kept low this season. This was the starting point of the Leafs building their dynasty and everyone, from management to the fans, knew that this would be a slow process. All that was expected of this young team was to develop and grow throughout the season. Since then the Leafs have exceeded every single expectation that was placed on them.
Going into the season it looked like it would be another bottom five finish for the team and now they are a playoff team. The Leafs rookie trio of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner have been the driving force for the team with all the veteran players just trying to keep up. Last night’s game against the New Jersey Devils exemplified that with Nylander breaking a 73-year franchise record while Marner tied another.
Nylander’s 10-Game Point Streak
At times during this season Nylander’s play and compete level were called into question. Any trade idea for a defenseman seemed to include him, which should have sounded as bizarre then as it does now. Any doubts about Nylander have faded away as he’s elevated his game during the second half of the season and has broken a record to only further the point. Nylander has broken the Leafs’ franchise record for a point streak as a rookie with a 10-game point streak.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 23, 2017
That record was previously held by Gus Bodnar with a nine-game point streak in the 1943-44 season. That record has lasted for 73 years with only two Leafs players ever matching it — Bob Nevin in 1960-61 and Dan Daoust in 1982-83. Having a point streak for that many games is amazing, specifically in the modern NHL as a rookie.
William Nylander's power play assist also ties Dan Daoust's rookie power play point record of 25, set in 1982-83. #TMLtalk
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) March 23, 2017
Nylander leads the Leafs in points in the last 10 games with four goals and 12 points. This streak has also helped him move up to third in points on the Leafs with 21 goals, 35 assists and 56 points in 72 games. Over the course of the season Nylander has proven himself every time that Mike Babcock has challenged him to be better and he’s improved as a result. Now he’s integral to the team’s success both now and in the future.
Marner Ties Leafs Rookie Assists Record
As if not to be left out of making history, Mitch Marner has tied the Leafs’ rookie assist record of 40 assists. That record, coincidently, was also set by Bodnar in his rookie season and has stood for 73 years. A few players have gotten close to the 40 assist record over the years, but Marner is the first player to tie that record. Marner will undoubtably break that record since there are still nine games left in the season for him to record one assist.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) March 24, 2017
This is amazing considering there were questions as to whether Marner would even be able to make the Leafs out of training camp due to his small stature. That argument never made any sense as Marner has been a dynamic player at every level of hockey that he’s played and so it only makes sense that he continued that trend in the NHL. He’s certainly proven doubters wrong as he’s second in points on the Leafs with 17 goals, 40 assists and 57 points in 68 games.
With even more records close to being broken it puts into perspective truly how tremendous the rookie trio are compared to the entire history of the Leafs.
Chart represents point totals before Thursday night’s game against New Jersey.
These three rookies are already in the top 10 in rookie scoring in Leafs history and there are still nine games left in the season. With how great of a year all three rookies have had it makes the future of the Leafs look that much brighter.
Toronto Maple Leafs contributor for The Hockey Writers.
I’ve been a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs since I was a kid and have always had an interest in writing. At The Hockey Writers, I get to enjoy both of my passions as well as writing about small convoluted details in player contracts and stats.