Alexander Kerfoot and Jason Spezza are the safest bets to centre the MapleLeafs' bottom two lines. But a summer of change has turned who will play alongside them into a puzzle with too many pieces to fit. (lukefoxjukebox)
Cracking the Toronto Maple Leafs' lineup as a not-so-proven winger used to be all but impossible, but salary-cap-based managerial decisions and a series of unfortunate events have cracked open a window and that welcoming light of opportunity is now shining through.Mitchell Marner (needs a contract, you may have heard). Versatile new additions Alexander Kerfoot and Jason Spezza are the safest bets to centre the bottom two lines, but it’ll be open season on the wings as the club boards Thursday’s charter bound for St. John’s. GM Kyle Dubas has gone out of his way to stuff those seats with hungry maybes, a bunch for bubble forwards in their twenties who devoted their summers to getting stronger and quicker. And all of them make less than $1 million on short-term deals, leaving the executive with as much wiggle room as possible to take care of Marner. Sign up for NHL newsletters Get the best of our NHL coverage and exclusives delivered directly to your inbox! NHL Newsletter *I understand that I may withdraw my consent at any time. Even the most job-secure of the bunch, Trevor Moore, who impressed as a fourth-line call-up last winter, isn’t taking anything for granted, saying he needs to first worry about making the cut before vying for a promotion to the top-six. Striving to outduel Moore for ice time is a diverse cluster of forwards that includes Pontus Aberg, joining his fifth organization in three seasons; Nick Shore, who scored thrice in 37 games for Magnitogorsk Metallurg in 2018-19; Kenny Agostino, now on his sixth NHL team; big-bodied Russian import Ilya Mikheyev; Toronto’s 2013 first-round pick, Frederik Gauthier; 2019 trade deadline acquisition Nic Petan; plus emerging Marlies stars, like Jeremy Bracco, eager to prove doubters wrong. "Everyone says I’m not the best defensive guy. You gotta be able to play 200-feet to play in the NHL, so I’m gonna try to show that here in camp," says Bracco, who exploded for 79 points in 75 games as an AHL sophomore, tacking on another 16 in 13 playoff games. "This time of year is exciting." A native of Freeport, N.Y., Bracco went home for "a combined three days" over the summer, electing instead to clock in at the Leafs’ practice facility, working on with the club’s strength coach and taking one-on-one skating lessons from Barb Underhill. So… no vacay after three playoff rounds? "Nothing. Negative," Bracco says. "I’m not a huge summer vacation guy." Bracco could be seen pushing himself in small-group skills work with the likes of John Tavares and Spezza, with whom he’s constantly tapping for "stories from back in the day." He’s even joined the veteran to take in some of Spezza’s daughter’s soccer games. "Skating with Spezz a lot this summer," Bracco says. "A guy like that, 20-year veteran in the league, played 1,000 games, you can learn a lot." On the other side of the country, a similar zeal for improvement was taking place in B.C., where Petan trained with a competitive crew that included Kerfoot, Morgan Rielly and the Reinhart brothers. The 5-foot-9 Petan failed to stick with the Jets and only appeared in five contests after being added to Toronto’s deep winger chart. "For me, it’s another fresh start," says Petan, who ratcheted up his conditioning through high-paced summer-league shinny. "I’m coming in confident and comfortable. My body feels good so I’m just going to go out and play. "Coming in as a smaller guy, I want to make sure my speed is up. I feel like I’m comfortable in that area." Petan was also comfortable switching his sweater number upside down, going from 19 to 61 to accommodate Spezza, without holding him hostage for a Rolex. "A nice paragraph text message was good enough for me," Petan says. If Petan’s size is a knock against him in the eyes of a coach who prefers some heft in his bottom-six, then Gauthier’s size should give last season’s 4C some solace even as he could be seen taking shifts on the wing during pre-camp skates. Six-foot-5, 235 pounds every night, Gauthier skyrocketed from a mere nine NHL games played in 2017-18 to 70 in 2018-19. But nothing has been promised. A summer of change has turned the bottom of the Leafs’ depth chart into a puzzle with too many pieces to fit. Gauthier realizes the importance of a strong camp to cling on. "They signed a lot of guys in the off-season," he says. "It’s going to be a nice battle and get the best out of us." More from Sportsnet Read more: Sportsnet
MapleLeafs lukefoxjukebox They will all have a great year. MapleLeafs lukefoxjukebox Puts the 43_Kadri deal into perspective 😖 .. though I hold him fully responsible for the fate dealt upon him .. he’s probs the biggest unrestricted value player out there and the Avalanche have him, we don’t!
'We want him in the mix': Marner absent from Maple Leafs' golf tournament - TSN.caMorgan Rielly would have liked nothing more than to tee off with Mitch Marner at the Toronto Maple Leafs' annual golf tournament. He's a good golfer from what I hear. He hasn't proven anything to be worth what he thinks he's worth. I good year? Then Mario Lemieux should have been paid $20 million per year. Gotta love the pro sports business... You get a huge raise even if you never win anything, lol.
Maple Leafs 'persistent' in pushing for long-term deal with Mitch Marner - TSN.caAccording to TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been 'persistent' in pushing both seven- and eight-year extension offers to restricted free agent Mitch Marner this summer. he don't want These RFA contracts need to become more strict, an RFA shouldn’t be allowed to walk away and play on a different team while contracts are negotiated. It puts too much negotiation power in the players corner and increases the possibility of injuries occurring playing elsewhere. Should have done the same with Matthews
Former Maple Leaf Darcy Tucker has contract advice for Marner - Sportsnet.ca'I look at it this way: if you want to be in Toronto, you’re going to make a deal — that’s the bottom line,' said 16DarcyTucker. '...I wanted more money, but I found the money that made sense and I wanted to be in Toronto.' 📽⬇️ 16DarcyTucker He’s going to make a deal. He loves being a Leaf. He has passion. He has time to make a deal. Let the kid decide 16DarcyTucker The Real 16 right there 16DarcyTucker Tucker come on you were not in the same boat . Mathews and nylander didn't take pay cuts but now marner should ?
Leafs supportive of Marner but know they need to put focus on training campMembers of the Maple Leafs shared their thoughts on the Mitchell Marner contract situation as training camp looms for the team. Alternate captain Morgan Rielly was able to sum up his teammates' sentiments, saying that in regards to the Marner contract: 'we'll cross that bridge when we get to it' and that the team needs to focus on preparing for the season. That's what they get for over paying Nylander
Chase Pearson leads Detroit Red Wings past Toronto Maple Leafs in rookie tournament exhibition - TSN.caChase Pearson had a hat trick to lead the Detroit Red Wings past the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday in an exhibition rookie tournament game. It was a good game
Maple Leafs have plenty of options when it comes to future captainThe Maple Leafs can go one of several ways when it comes to choosing their captain and any option would be a good choice. Whether it's Morgan Rielly, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner or John Tavares, each player has a legitimate case to be given the honour. That's Hockey has more. Who should be the new captain for the Toronto Maple Leafs Mo 🙋🏻♂️ No it has to be 34 or he will be ...