Lou Lamoriello met with the media after the third day of on-ice sessions at Toronto Maple Leafs training camp in Nova Scotia.
Has the scrimmage given you a greater outlook on things as we get ready to head back to Toronto in a couple of days?
Lou Lamoriello: It’s been an excellent three days. I think the competitiveness has been outstanding. I think not having the players who were at the World Cup here gave an opportunity to a lot of players to come to the forefront and play with different people. So it’s been outstanding.
From one camp to the other, especially with some of the younger players, the growth in 12 months in terms of confidence out there… it’s certainly great to have been there for them last year and to be able to do it again.
Lamoriello: No question. It’s experience, too. Confidence and experience go hand in hand. As you said, it’s a year older.
Do you look at some of the individuals and think all the pressure isn’t placed on one or two players, that a lot of it is going to be spread around — not only among your veterans, but especially your younger group?
Lamoriello: I think the younger group will have an opportunity that they’ll never have again. There’s only 10 players who were in the opening night roster that are here from last year. There are a lot of positions open, and when you have that opportunity, you get excited and you feel that you have a chance. I believe that is what is going on right now.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of things. I know you’re a team guy, but the chances of this team winning a team trophy are pretty slim. You’ve got a long way to go, but you’ve got a number of guys who could win individual trophies. You probably have there or four guys who could win the Calder this year; they’d be eligible, their talent level is that high. What would that mean to the franchise’s movement toward respectability for one of your young players to actually be the rookie of the year?
Lamoriello: Absolutely nothing. I don’t think that’s any [of our] focus, or really does anything. I’ve had three or four players who have won Calder trophies. I think it’s what they do and what they contribute to team success that counts in every way whatsoever. If that happens to come about, great. But only if it’s the result of the team success.
Can you explain the Jared Cowen situation right now?
Lamoriello: Really, it is still an open case. Unfortunately, they could not finish the hearing. It will be heard in the very near future.
But he is officially bought out and the question is whether that was a legal buyout?
Lamoriello: I really honestly can’t comment.
But he’s not on your roster?
Lamoriello: No. I cannot comment about it until it’s final.
The play of Mitch Marner compared to a year ago, and having him on a line with a couple of veterans — what have you seen from him over the past couple of days?
Lamoriello: I’ve seen a lot more poise, a lot of maturity, and certainly a year of experience. I think he’s done a tremendous job this year, especially from the second half of the year out in London as far as how he’s handled every situation. He certainly had a great year and he’s had a great career to this point. We’re really pleased with what we see right now.
What does he have to do to stick with the team? What are the main things that he has to accomplish over the next week or two?
Lamoriello: I don’t think there’s any one thing. I think that we will see him in exhibition games. We’ll see just how he plays, how he fits in, and whether he’s ready or not. I’d like to think he’ll get every opportunity and know he will. Hopefully he is, but only time will tell. You never want to rush anybody. That’s the worst thing you can do. But he’ll make that decision as far as how he plays.
You look at William Nylander getting a chance to get to play center, at least today, knowing he could go over to the right side and help you there.
Lamoriello: I think Willy showed what he can do when he came up last year. He’s a talent. He’s certainly going to be a key player in our organization.
The World Cup guys are going to be joining you — the ones who are eliminated — on Tuesday?
Lamoriello: Yes. We wanted to give them a couple of days off. They’ll all be back next week.
Are you keen to see how Auston Matthews fits in with the group?
Lamoriello: Oh, I’m sure we’ll find out quick.
Freddie Andersen — any idea when he will start [practicing]?
Lamoriello: He is progressing. He is on the ice right now, but in a very remedial stage of it. We’ll know more next week, but he is progressing. There are no setbacks. Whatever we felt, or whatever the doctors felt initially, is exactly where it’s at.
Do you appreciate the athleticism and a body that big in terms of Frederik and what he brings?
Lamoriello: There’s no question. Just looking at him in the net, he fills it up pretty good. But he is an athlete. He handles the puck extremely well. Hopefully we can get him into practice soon.
What can you say about the support for the team from not only people in Halifax but all over Atlantic Canada, coming out and camping out for tickets? The game tomorrow is sold out. How has the team’s experience in Halifax been?
Lamoriello: It’s just been incredible. Obviously we came back a second year. I know I came in quite early the last couple of mornings, and to see the people out there is very touching. It just goes to show you what the team means. The hospitality here has been outstanding A to Z. There is no stone left unturned. The interaction with the fans and the staff has been great. I think just the picture they had on the ice there says it all; the way they felt so comfortable.