Mark Hunter on Leafs rookies: “I don’t think any team is going to be faster than us”


Mark Hunter addressed the media after the Toronto Maple Leafs finished the 2016 rookie tournament with a 3-0 record thanks to a 6-5 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday evening.

You wanted to see compete level, I would assume. Did you see that in the three games?

Mark Hunter: Yeah, I did. There was a lot of fire out there in that game [versus the Penguins] tonight. Both teams came at each other hard; lots of good hits and good compete from both teams.

Lots of speed as well. Did you see an improvement in a Nikita Korostelev from where he was a couple of years ago when you drafted him?

Hunter: Yeah, I do. He’s working harder. He’s got great puck skills. He’s just got to make sure he keeps his feet moving, and he did tonight. He looked real good.

Are you pleased with what you saw tonight from some of the guys who maybe aren’t that high up on the attention scale?

Hunter: Yeah, we did. I thought our D in general had a good game. I thought Andrew Nielsen had a real good third period; scored a goal, and made a heck of a pass on the last one to Bracco. There were some good things out there without some other guys who did sit out tonight. It was nice to see us get the win.

Can you talk about the general plan of who from this camp might be coming out for main camp?

Hunter: I think we’ll sit down tomorrow and look at things and figure out who is coming and who isn’t coming.

Is it safe to say that some of the guys who played today gave you some interesting dilemmas?

Hunter: Yeah, that’s what it’s all about. That’s why we have the draft. Hopefully we can bring them in and push other people harder for their jobs.

How did you like Mitch Marner’s two games here?

Hunter: I thought Mitch worked really hard. I thought he made some great passes, but sometimes the puck doesn’t go in. It didn’t go in for him in the couple of games. But I liked his effort. I liked how he thinks the game out there. This is just the start of training camp. He’s got to keep showing the things he’s capable of doing.

How have you seen the 2015 draft class progress since they were drafted?

Hunter: They’ve still got [areas] to grow as people and grow as hockey players. We got the Nielsen boy, and Dermott. They’re good prospects, but they all have things to work on. We all know how hard it is to play D in the National Hockey League, especially defensively. They’ve got a few things they’ve got to clean up. They’re young men, and hopefully they keep getting better.

Mason Marchment remind you of his dad in any way?

Hunter: He had the Gordie Howe hat trick today – he had the goal, an assist, and a fight. It was pretty impressive. I thought, in the two games he was in here, he was solid. He works his tail off out there, and he’s annoying to play against. I think he impressed our camp here. It’s only two games and there’s a lot more hockey here left. These men have to go and show their stuff.

A lot of these kids [put in] a lot of time in the summer. They were at the Mastercard Centre, working with Barb [Underhill] and all that. Did you see some of that manifest itself here?

Hunter: Yeah, I did. I think that’s one thing we’ve addressed out there as a hockey club. I don’t think any team is going to be faster than us. We’ve got good speed and we can get up and down the ice real quick. With Barb and Jeremy [Bettle], they’ve had a great summer and they’ve done a great job. It’s now up to these boys to show what they can do on the ice. I thought, for two games or three games, it was good, but it’s only three games.

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