Photo: USA Today Sports

Elliotte Friedman connects the Leafs with pending UFA center Brian Boyle as well as undrafted Gatineau forward Zack MacEwen, Mike Babcock takes ownership for slow starts, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Friedman: Leafs linked to pending UFA Brian Boyle (Sportsnet)
Another UFA to watch is Tampa Bay’s Brian Boyle. You can see why playoff teams would be interested. Edmonton’s Peter Chiarelli went to see him in Minnesota last Friday. Columbus and Toronto are believed to be among other potential suitors. (The Maple Leafs tried to sign him as a free agent in 2014, although it was a different regime.) Some tweeters were surprised I said during a radio interview he may fetch a first-rounder in return. It comes down to how much of a demand there is, but teams are not married to those picks in 2017.

Friedman: Leafs interested in undrafted Zack MacEwen (Sportsnet)
There isn’t as much action on CHL kids because most get drafted before free agency is reality. One who has captured attention if Zack MacEwen of QMJHL Gatineau. Ottawa, Tampa, Toronto and Vancouver are all believed to be among those interested. He was invited to Anaheim’s camp last September.

Leafs Notebook – Where does Tyler Bozak stack up among NHL 3Cs? (MLHS)
There are a lot of different factors to consider when answering that question. First of all, Bozak benefits from playing with a legitimate budding star and a proven top-line scoring winger who are both on pace for over 65 points this season. Second, most teams don’t use their third line like the Leafs do (softer scoring minutes); instead, they use that third line to build a checking/matchup unit. Third, Bozak is making a lot of money for his role.

Veteran goalie Jhonas Enroth making most of fresh start with Ducks’ AHL franchise in San Diego (OC Register)
Enroth addressed Eakins’ concerns swiftly and certainly, going 9-1-0 with a 1.20 goals-against average, a .954 save percentage and two shutouts in 10 games since the trade. The next question is, is Enroth about to shake up the Ducks’ depth chart in goal? “It’s obvious he’s a really mentally strong kid to still be up emotionally,” Eakins said. “I made some calls on him. Nothing but great stuff. It’s great when you see a guy who’s got a passion for his position. He’s a really good human being. He’s supported his teammates.

Maple Leafs change up routine amid struggles (CTV News)
Head coach Mike Babcock did not hold a morning skate ahead of Tuesday night’s game against the New York Islanders, citing his team’s poor starts during a spell of six losses in eight games (2-4-2) as well a looming back-to-back with the Columbus Blue Jackets on deck Wednesday night. “We just thought it was the best thing for us,” Babcock said.

Mike Babcock takes responsibility for recent spate of slow starts (National Post)
Mike Babcock has called out himself and his assistants when searching for reasons why the Maple Leafs have been so wonky at the start of recent games. A couple of times in this recent skid — six losses the past eight games — Babcock has referenced their slow starts and blamed them in part on his role in game preparation. If that makes the highly paid bench boss and his detail-oriented staff look bad, so be it.

[Paywall] A hopeful never waivers: The many moves Seth Griffith made en route to saving the Marlies (The Athletic)
No matter how much he tries to get used to it, Marlies forward Seth Griffith doesn’t like living out of hotels. “With the hotel lifestyle, you can’t really cook or anything like that,” he said. “It sucks.” Griffith enjoys the comforts of home. He likes having a kitchen and a couch. He likes the simple life. It’s his professional life that’s complicated. It began in October, when the Boston Bruins waived him as part of their final round of training camp cuts. The Maple Leafs claimed him, and he appeared in three games. Despite solid possession numbers, he went without a point, and he was waived again.

[Paywall] Charting Hockey: On the value of faceoffs (The Athletic)
It happened again. On Saturday night, the Maple Leafs faced off against the Buffalo Sabres in an eventual 3-1 loss. The loss isn’t the “happened again” part – though, Leafs fans have endured many defeats at the hands of their divisional rival over the past decade or more. The “happened again” started when Auston Matthews lost a faceoff and the Sabres scored immediately off the draw.

Kadri renews rivalry with Tavares when Leafs play Islanders (Toronto Star)
If the draft were to be redone, the two would probably be picked in their same spots, depending on how you feel about Victor Hedman, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Marcus Johansson, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brayden Schenn and Nick Leddy. (And for those of you out there who think it’s only the Leafs who used to get their picks wrong, think about how Dallas chose Scott Glennie at eighth overall, one pick after Kadri. One NHL game to his credit.)

Are the Maple Leafs sneaking a peak at NCAA free agent Josh Healey? (Pension Plan Puppets)
The Leafs may be stealthily scouting the big bruising blue liner themselves. It comes down to assumptions being made on my part, but here’s my theory and it gets a little long: Last season the Leafs had both Tony Cameranesi and Dominic Toninatoplaying at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Cameranesi’s rights were set to expire on August 15th of that year (Toninato’s expire this year). When the college season ended who was it that the Maple Leafs signed right away?