Patrick Marleau arrives in Toronto, Rick Westhead marvels over the size of MLSE’s new arena naming rights deal, Connor Brown wants to be a Leaf for life, and more in the links.


Leafs Links

Bowen: I haven’t been this excited for a Leafs season since early 90’s (TSN1050)
Maple Leafs broadcaster Joe Bowen joined Dave Naylor and guest host Steve Simmons to discuss the upcoming Maple Leafs season, his favourite memories from the Air Canada Centre before it changes its name to “Scotiabank Arena” and more.

I think [the potential] is unlimited. The one area we are obviously all excited about is the great group of forwards. That is going to be very exciting to watch. We can all expect they’ll remain healthy. That’s [one] question mark going forward because last year they were remarkably healthy.

The biggest question is the backend. Whether they can improve back there enough to make them in the middle of the pack or better than the middle of pack as far as defending is concerned, then I think the optimism is right there as far as the offence to be even more dynamic than what it was a year ago.

When you talk about taking a guy who was on your first line and inserting him onto your fourth line, you have to think that you’re pretty good. I don’t think anyone is expecting he’ll remain on the line with Matthews, although he was pretty functional there. You’d hope that he’d have better hands and better finish, but his work ethic and his penalty killing and various other things are going to make him a very key component of this hockey club.

You add Dominic Moore back there as well with some veteran savvy, and the addition of Marleau. I think the offense is really going to be dynamic. It’s if they can defend that will be the difference.

Roman Polak has not even been mentioned, but this team needs a Roman Polak or two of them that have a little bit of an edge and some nastiness to them to make coming into that end of the rink give a little more trepidation to other teams.

Westhead: Worldwide record arena naming deal feather in MLSE’s cap (TSN1050)
TSN correspondent Rick Westhead joined Gareth Wheeler on Toronto Today to discuss the renaming of the Air Canada Centre to The Scotiabank Arena, the money involved being a record deal and what MLSE could do with the money to give their teams a competitive advantages.

The fact that MLSE was able to get more money for a naming rights for an arena than any other market in the world – more than New York, more than Washington or Los Angeles, more than the European stadiums where some of the world’s best soccer teams are playing – that is a real feather in the cap of a Canadian company. I guess it really does show that Toronto… sometimes we don’t really think of Toronto as being on the same level as those premiere global markets like New York and LA. But this is a real affluent and growing city. I think it speaks to that.

This speaks to what Scotiabank sees, which is that – at a time when it’s really tough to find new, young consumers – young people are invested in hockey and basketball and they see this as a way to try to get new people who are opening their first or second bank accounts.

On if MLSE could use some of the money on hockey ops:

On the hockey side, they can invest more in scouting than they did before, more in research and technology. It seems like every week or every month, at least, we’re reading about something new that is coming out, whether it’s a company that is making a wristband that can track an athlete’s sleeping problem and help them deal with jetlag and the strains of flying across the country, or new helmet technology and new stick technology. Maybe MLSE has its eyes on sports sciences more and can use some of this money to invest in that to give them an advantage over some of their small-market rivals. But there is no doubt some of this is going to go to the company’s bottom line for sure.

Lamoriello on Liljegren: “D-men with his talent don’t come along often” (MLHS)
Lamoriello: “I think it’s going to be very difficult for young players to jump into this lineup. I think our lineup is going to be extremely competitive. [On top of] the people we had here last year, we’ve made two additions with Marleau and Moore and we have a couple of young players who are on the verge – Leivo, Soshnikov. It’s going to be competitive. The best players will play. But we’re looking forward to training camp to see how much we have improved.”

Connor Brown was on the Power Play w/ @thegoldenmuzzy & @jhahn4 (XM)
Leafs winger Connor Brown joined Sirius XM NHL Network to discuss his new contract and the season ahead in Toronto.

I’m always trying to set myself up to be a Leaf for life. Growing up in this city, that means a lot to me. I think we did a good job of that with this contract. At this point, I’m just excited to get the season going. We’ve got an exciting team and we’re all excited for camp.

What does [the Leon Draisaitl contract] mean for the Maple Leafs? (The Athletic)
If Toronto’s willing to bet that nobody will offer crazy money to Matthews, they’d likely benefit from doing a bridge deal with Matthews as well. It’s a scary bet to make though: If you’re wrong, you get to make a choice between a massive number or draft picks that aren’t remotely close to the value of the player. I’d still expect the Matthews contract to be a big one for the maximum term. Marner and Nylander? Bridge deals now seem more likely than they did at the beginning of the month.

Top 25 Under 25: William Nylander claims #2 in our countdown (PPP)
Nylander is an elite passer and a deadly shooter. If you watched last year, you got to see him thread needles and pick corners. For a time our zone entry strategy on the powerplay was pretty much “give the puck to Willie”, and it actually worked. Nylander was one of the deadliest players in the NHL with the man advantage—his 26 power play points led the Leafs and were tied for 12th in the NHL, one back of Connor McDavid.

The Swedes are coming: Liljegren & young countrymen plan to impress (NP)
Borgman and fellow six-footer Rosen, who had 19 points in 41 regular season games with Vaxjo, signed two-year entry-level deals, picking the Leafs over other teams — in Rosen’s case, the Chicago Blackhawks. “The greatest opportunity was here,” added Borgman, who already has a swollen cheek from a visor cut in scrimmage action. “We both came with Aaltonen earlier (this summer to see the city).”

Leafs’ camp helps Ryan McGregor improve (The Observer)
Mitch Marner, Connor Brown, Zach Hyman, Josh Leivo and goalie Frederik Andersen were among the Leafs who skated with the team’s prospects at the Mastercard Centre for Hockey Excellence. “We scrimmage every Thursday, so it’s good to watch some of the stuff they do and try to incorporate that into your own game,” said McGregor, 18. “It’s really cool. You get to watch these guys play and it’s incredible some of the stuff they can do.”

Patrick Marleau is packed and shipping off to Toronto (Mercury News)
Christina Marleau shared Patty Ice’s next step in his new NHL career by tweeting a picture of him at the airport Thursday morning, replete with Maple Leaf and Sharks hockey bags. Marleau already started wearing Maple Leaf gear on NHL ice. He participated in a captain’s ice session last week SAP Center, not an uncommon practice for NHL players before training camp starts, while wearing bright blue Toronto attire

Jared Cowen aims to resurrect career with Avalanche (PHT)
A combination of poor play and injuries made those high hopes fizzle out dramatically for Cowen, who was eventually part of the complicated trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to the Senators. Cowen “went” to the Toronto Maple Leafs, yet he would never suit up for Toronto, who bought him out for cap/money reasons. Part of that was the declining opinion of his all-around play. That said, a lot of his issues were health-related; hip problems dogged him for much of his career, and Cowen hasn’t played since 2015-16.

Jeremy Bracco follows large footsteps on way to Leafs (Sporting News)
While shifting his focus to the pros, Bracco is now concentrating on the finer points of his game. “Just evolving my 200-foot game,” he said. “I think you can never be too good in every zone. There’s little things in every zone that you can pick up on so you just try to learn from the older guys and just try to pick up little things.”