Former Toronto Marlies video coach Justin Bourne gives his thoughts on the NHL readiness of Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott, Connor Brown reacts to the Leafs’ signing of Patrick Marleau, 2017 development camp opens for medicals on Thursday, and more in the links.


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Bourne: Kapanen ready to make NHL impact (TSN1050)
The Athletic senior columnist Justin Bourne joined Dave and Michael to discuss his path from the Marlies video coach to the Athletic, his odd familial lineage, and his thoughts on Kasperi Kapanen and Travis Dermott.

On Kasperi Kapanen:

I think he’s a guy that is really being slept on. He’s just 20 years old still. People talk about the guy like he’s a bust or something. He was with the Marlies all of last year, for the most part, in the regular season anyway. Part of that was just circumstantial. Halfway through the year, he got a tough injury there. Jake Dotchin took him out behind the net. He missed a few months. People don’t realize that the plan for Kappy wasn’t to be in the American league all year. He was supposed to go up about half-way through the year and was playing very well when he got hurt. I suspect it was a matter of days before he went up with the Leafs.

I think he’s a contributor. Brooks Laich called Kappy, “one of the 10 fastest skaters in hockey.” He was talking about the NHL included in that when he came down and saw the way the kid skated. When he is motivated, when he is physical, when he’s engaged, this is a kid who is not just an NHL player but a good one. I think he’s going to surprise people next year.

On Travis Dermott:

It’s a tough one for me because I’m torn. I haven’t seen any of our defencemen graduate the way that I have seen, over the past two years, a number of forwards go up. Just seeing him at our level, there were times when some of the higher-ups in the organization were calling him the best 20-year-old defenceman in the American league. He is another guy who is having a great season and suffered a tough injury. He had a high-ankle sprain and missed a couple of months, and that kind of slowed him down and took him a while to get back to speed. After he found his stride after about 15 games in the American league, he is just so elusive. When he goes back on a puck to retrieve a dump-in, forwards coming in to hit him can’t touch him. He’s just like Michael Vick in the pocket back there. He’s very exciting and I think Maple Leafs fans should be real excited about his potential. I think he’ll make the team. I like him a lot.

On losing Brendan Leipsic:

It sucks. It’s one of those things where every team lost someone. You try to manoeuvre as best as you can so you don’t lose a piece too valuable, but the reality with Leiper is there is a ton of wingers between the Leafs and the Marlies. There wasn’t a lot of spots available. If you’re going to play him on the big club, he’s got to play in the top nine. Who do you bump out? You just sort of look at the situation and you see the roadblock. There just wasn’t a spot for him with the Leafs. I think this gives him a good opportunity in Vegas to show you what he can do and prove he can be an NHL player because I think he’s awfully close.

Leafs excited for veteran signings and additional competition (TSN)
Maple Leafs‘ Connor Brown and Josh Leivo joined Wendel Clark on the HMCS Toronto (FFH 333) to meet some of the crew. Afterwards they discussed the veteran signings which included Patrick Marleau and how there will be additional competition for spots next season. Brown also touched on his ongoing negotiations with Toronto.

Connor Brown on the signing of Patrick Marleau:

It’s exciting. I grew up watching Patrick. He’s been a great player in the league for so many years. He’s an excellent player and he makes our team instantly better. It just gets you that much more excited for September.

I think it’s a big part of it, that experience, especially with the grind of the year and us trying to take a step forward. It’s important what those guys bring that we signed. All of the guys from last year will try to take that step forward and continue to get better.

Josh Leivo on the veteran signings:

I think it’s showing that we can win now. I think last year we put ourselves on the map. We just have to keep looking forward and having the success we’ve had in the last year.

What will Patrick Marleau’s role be on the Toronto Maple Leafs? (MLHS)
Now that we’ve had a few days to digest the acquisition of future Hall of Famer Patrick Marleau, let’s take a look at the situational strengths and weaknesses of the new Toronto Maple Leafs winger and where he could fit into the team’s lineup. To get a better sense of Patrick Marleau’s role in San Jose, we enlisted the help of Erik Johnsgard, a staff writer at the excellent Sharks website, Fear The Fin.

Zach Hyman signed to four-year, $2.25 million AAV contract extension (MLHS)
While Hyman may be bumped out of his top-nine spot next to Matthews depending on how Mike Babcock arranges his lines with the recent addition of Patrick Marleau, his contributions on the penalty kill were notable and no doubt contributed significantly to the Leafs‘ willingness to hand out four years of term on his second contract. He was tied for second in the NHL with four shorthanded goals while leading the entire league in shorthanded time-on-ice among forwards (2:47/game) on a top-ten penalty kill. It’s certainly rare for a rookie to be handed that amount of responsibility, and he was more than capable in the role.

Lou Lamoriello on the Patrick Marleau signing: “We wouldn’t be able to do this next year — this is a time and a window” (MLHS)
“Right now, we’re looking at the upside and what he can contribute at this time and with the growth of our young players. We wouldn’t be able to do this if this were next year, in our opinion. This is a time and a window when we can afford this contract and not get in the way of what decisions have to be made in the future. That’s the best way I can answer it. But it’s a fair question. We knew that question would come up. It’s just doing the right thing for the organization.”

Lou Lamoriello on the Leafs’ offseason additions: “I want to reassure everybody that the core is the young players” (MLHS)
“Right now we’re extremely happy going into camp with this roster. There is going to be an internal competition that is excellent. We will certainly get our players’ attention at this time at the beginning of the summer to make sure that they come in in the best shape they possibly can. As I said, you don’t have an opportunity like this with where the core of our group for the future is young and in entry-level contracts to make a decision like this, where you can – if you want to use the word – “take a risk,” although the risk is certainly in favour of being very positive [for] the team.”

The Swedes and the Russians are well represented at development camp (PPP)
Jakob Stridsberg is from the HV71 club originally, is 22 now and is a defenceman. A few years ago, he came to America to play in the NAHL, a junior league. Not just America though. He played in Fairbanks, Alaska. After two years there, scoring a rather high number of points, he went to college at Arizona State for NCAA hockey. This is a hell of a journey, even if all he gets out of it is an American education.

Toronto Maple Leafs Announce 2017 Development Camp Roster (MLHS)
57 players in total will attend the camp — an increase of 16 over last year’s camp –including 31 forwards, 20 defencemen, and six goalies. Six of the Leafs’ seven 2017 draft picks will be in attendance, including first round selection Timothy Liljegren, with only Vladislav Kara absent. It will also be the first development camp for Nikolai Chebykin, the team’s 2016 seventh-round pick out of Russia.

[Paywall] Whose next deal will top Connor McDavid’s? (ESPN Insider)
Considering McDavid won the Hart Trophy at age 20 and, if you adjust for era, is on a similar scoring path as Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux, it could be argued that the Oilers came out winners, despite that eye-popping figure. They will probably have enough cap space to keep young forward Leon Draisaitl and won’t have to think about losing the league’s most dominant player until 2025-26. By setting a new benchmark, McDavid’s contract changes the game. The league’s top players and their agents now have a number for which to aim, and teams will have incentive to push for more revenue knowing the price to keep top talent just went up.

McDavid, like others before him, leaves money on table in pursuit of Cup (THN)
It is not a stretch to say that McDavid is a savior for the NHL in more ways than one. He just saved the other teams an enormous amount of money. He essentially drew the line for the next player who comes into this situation, namely Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. By taking up just 16.6 percent of the Oilers’ cap room, it would be a very tough sell for Matthews to ask for anything higher. And it’s not certain what Oilers center Leon Draisaitl will do in his contract talks, but McDavid may have inadvertently driven down Draisaitl’s price a little, too.

[Paywall] How much can the Leafs spend after adding Marleau? (The Athletic)
Bringing Marleau in, then, comes with a tangible cost. His cap hit hurts their flexibility in that it necessitates that the Leafs use LTIR from the beginning, which means they can’t “bank” cap space throughout the year and they can’t absorb some of the entry-level bonuses that will surely be racked up by their young stars. The only way it really makes sense is if (a) Marleau makes a big impact right away in terms of their playoff chances and in the standings and (b) the Leafs use that extra $7 million in LTIR cap space to aggressively get better after Horton and Lupul hit LTIR in October.