2017 development camp coverage, a game-by-game recap of Auston Matthews’ remarkable rookie season, and more in the links.


Leafs Links

Ryan McDonagh will be in John Tavares’ position soon enough (NY Post)
If the Maple Leafs’ addition of Marleau prompts the club to solicit offers for Tyler Bozak, the 31-year-old center whose average ice time has declined from 20:57 to 16:26 over the past four seasons, expect the Rangers to be among the interested parties. Nick Holden likely would be the opening ante to get in on Bozak, a one-year right-handed rental at $4.2 million who habitually has excelled at the dots (56.7 last year, 53.6 for his eight-year career), is capable offensively (18 goals, 37 assists, 55 points last season) and would slot into the middle two or three with Kevin Hayes behind Mika Zibanejad.

The first 88 games of Auston Matthews – Commentary & Analysis (MLHS)
It’s really impressive that Auston scored 40 goals in his rookie year, but what I want anyone who reads this or watched any one of the videos to take away is that Auston is a 19-year-old rookie who is already doing things seasoned veterans of the game are not. Furthermore, almost every facet of his game not only impressed but improved markedly. How many rookies would receive such praise for things like puck retrieval, puck battles, power play leadership, defensive ability, and his ability to make teammates better (the list goes on and on)?

Dzierkals looking to stand out at Leafs camp (TSN.ca)
Eligible for either the AHL or a CHL overage year, Dzierkals is already showing improvement in one area at camp. He’s been a standout among the forwards in battle drills the first three days, showing a relentlessness that wasn’t as evident 12 months ago. But whether he’s capable of advancing to the AHL next season or if there’s a spot for him available isn’t the biggest challenge in Dzierkals’ path. As of Sunday’s camp sessions, he hasn’t yet been signed to an entry-level deal, and Toronto is already at 48 of their allotted 50 contracts for next season with decisions still to be made for the Leafs’ roster.

[Paywall] Maksimovich making impression at Leafs development camp (Athletic)
Despite a clear movement towards skilled players, regardless of size, in hockey, Erie Otters forward Kyle Maksimovich was still a victim of some old-school thinking in this year’s NHL draft. Listed at 5-foot-9, the 19-year-old recorded 16 goals and 48 assists in 64 games this season and helped Erie win an OHL championship this spring. Surely, his personal and team accolades would put him in consideration to be drafted by an NHL club. But after seven rounds in Chicago last month, Maksimovich wasn’t selected for the second straight draft.

Leafs’ Gordeev a big help for Russian prospects (Toronto Sun)
Fedor Gordeev wasn’t at Maple Leafs’ development camp five minutes before the club put him to good use. The Russian-born, Toronto-raised behemoth blue liner was slotted into an interpreter’s role for a few campers who came from his birth country and needed help with off-ice matters from filling out forms to explaining baseball when all the players went to last Friday’s Blue Jay game. “We have testing going on and they’re always looking for me, going ‘come here, come here,’” the 6-foot-6 Gordeev said with a laugh.

Jeremy Bracco and company doing the little things right for Leafs (Toronto Star)
The rookie success of Mitch Marner, a player long described as undersized for his slender build, serves as an inspiration for some vertically challenged prospects the Maple Leafs have invited to their summer development camp. “Just look at what Mitch did, he had a fantastic season,” says Jeremy Bracco, a Windsor Spitfires forward listed, perhaps generously, at five-foot-10 and 190 pounds. “It makes the small guys like myself feel really good. It captivates you. It shows you have a chance going forward. It’s an exciting time.”

Woll ready to take the next step at Leafs development camp (TSN.ca)
When he was first drafted, Woll’s longtime goalie coach in St. Louis, Bruce Racine, described his pupil as being “very, very passionate” about his position. His hunger to improve even by inches is apparent just in how he carries himself on the ice, whether in visualizing shots or responding to frustration after allowing a goal by immediately looking to a coach for instruction.  Woll wants to be great, and sooner rather than later, great for the Maple Leafs.

The Recovery: The rise, fall and redemption of the Clune brothers (The Athletic)
This process, however, is long and grueling. After seven years, several hundred games in big league barns as a member of the Nashville Predators and the Toronto Maple Leafs, and in lesser ones as a member of much lesser teams, I can tell you it is in fact profound. For what began as a simple act of identification in church basements — “Hi, my name is Rich Clune…” — gradually spread and became a creed, one with brilliant flames that ignited the wicks of many souls still shrouded in darkness as they sat slouched listening to his tale.

Maple Leafs prospect Jeremy Bracco inspired by Marner’s jump (Sportsnet)
“He’s a talented guy,” head coach Mike Babcock told Sportsnet’s Memorial Cup panel. “One of those few players who’s faster with the puck than without it. He can really make plays. I like to see him when he’s got the puck and he’s cruising around the offensive zone. He sees the ice, he thinks real well. He’s gonna have to get stronger for sure. We have a lot of talented guys up front in Toronto — it’s going to be tough for everybody.”

The Tale of Tyler Bozak (PPP)
The simplest thing to do is to keep Bozak another year. He’s still productive, the Leafs want to win now, and he adds an offensive weapon to their lineup. If it ain’t broke… At the same time, plenty of teams could make use of a Tyler Bozak. Nashville, to take one example, had no centre that could match Bozak’s 5v5 production last year, and they clearly have a hole at the position. They want to win now, obviously enough. Could there be a fit there? To take a second example, Larry Brooks has mooted the idea of Bozak to the Rangers, although his proposed return is underwhelming.


2017 Development Camp Coverage

Dzierkals vs. Woll (via @MikeInBuffalo)