Nazem Kadri
TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 07: Nazem Kadri #43 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck during an NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings at Air Canada Centre on March 7, 2017 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

The players continue to arrive in town for informal skates, maximizing the Leafs forward lines, and more in the links.


Leafs Links

Kadri: Learned from mistakes, can provide guidance to young players (Sportsnet)
Nazem Kadri talks about heightened expectations for the Maple Leafs heading into the season and how he plans to be a leader for younger players on the squad.

I don’t think you approach it any differently. Last year, we came into training camp wanting to be one of the better teams in the league and surprised a lot of people. Now expectations are a little bit higher, but we just need to go out there and do our thing and stick to what we do well, which is score goals and play on offense. Once we get the technicalities of playing in the d-zone and the neutral zone down, we’re going to be one of the better teams in the league.

Carrick: All about that secret sauce, who can gel the quickest (Sportsnet)
Connor Carrick talks about his summer and what he plans on taking into camp this season.

I think the belief from day one last year was that we had a good group. We just needed to execute what the coach was asking and play to our strengths as a team. I think that’s no different. We’ve got a talented team with a lot of guys that are good on both sides of the puck, a lot of guys that bring different things. It’s all about that secret sauce and who can get gelling the quickest and for the longest period of time.

LeBrun: Leafs fans may be nervous with so many big decisions ahead (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey insider and the new senior NHL columnist for The Athletic Pierre LeBrun discusses his new gig. Pierre also talked about the Connor Brown contract and some the of the difficult financial decisions that Maple Leafs face in the next couple of years.

On whether he was surprised by the AAV on the Connor Brown contract:

I think, as the summer goes on, as a player you start to feel the heat as to wanting to get a deal done. At the end of the day, you don’t have that much leverage if you’re Connor Brown other than staying unsigned and not showing up to camp. I’m not really sure how that serves you at this point. You had a very good year; you were one of the great stories in what was one of the great stories in the entire league. But it’s still a short resume, right? You still have to prove yourself to Mike Babcock. You still have to take that next step. For a guy like Connor Brown – I don’t know if he’d ever admit this or not, but I think the idea of dragging it out and not being there from day one of camp, really, would probably not be a good idea. I think that’s something you do when you have a little more leverage, a little more time in your league, and you’ve got the team tilted the other way in terms of them sweating it out a bit more. At the end of the day, I’m not shocked.

On whether Leafs fans should be watching the David Pastrnak negotiation:

[William Nylander] might’ve been the Leafs‘ most dangerous player in the first round against Washington, honestly. I say that knowing Auston Matthews had some clutch moments. Nylander played his best hockey in the second half last year and most notably, down the stretch and into the playoffs when the pressure was on. I really think he came into his own. If he carries that into a full 82-game schedule, I’m not so sure the sky is not the limit for him offensively.

It’s hard not to tie it to Matthews and Marner in the future here come next summer. Whether you’re talking about McDavid or Draisatl or Eichel, they’re all players on different levels depending on who you are talking about, but as a Leafs fan, you start to get a little nervous. There are some big-time decisions coming in a hurry before the team has a chance to breathe.

The order will be interesting to me. Does Matthews go first, or do you get Marner done first? I’ve got a feeling we’ll be spending a lot of time talking about just that as we head into next summer.

Clark: The youthful Leafs should excite Patrick Marleau (TSN1050)
Maple Leafs Great Wendel Clark joined Andi Petrillo, Gord Miller and Mike Johnson to discuss what it was like as a young star in Toronto heading into a sophmore season, what is the expectation for the young core and how the Leafs could invigorate the veteran Patrick Marleau.

On the Patrick Marleau signing:

I think it’s going to be great as long as he comes in and doesn’t age [laughs]. The one thing as an older player is you never know what year you come to camp and all of a sudden it’s, “I lost that whatever it is.” Because of his age, I think you don’t know that.

The great thing is he’s such a good athlete. He’s been very healthy. I think the youth of our team is going to spread into his game. That part will excite him and make it fun to come to the rink again. He’s coming from an older dressing room that controlled the room in San Jose to a dressing room here that is very young. I think he’s going to love that.

On Morgan Rielly:

I think he’s been establishing himself more and more every year. The one thing as a defenceman is that it’s very hard to come in and be that guy at 22 and 21. As a defenceman, it takes five, six or eight years longer to get better at playing your position.

I remember when Bryan McCabe started as a rookie with the Islanders and then he really came into his own in Toronto at 25, 26, 27. I think Rielly is just getting there now where he’s going to have all the talent in his body is going to mix with his age and, if we can get a few more pieces stepping up as well as him… the better we play as a team, the better he will look. Last year, he played against all the big guys every night and maybe that looked hard on the numbers. Really, you don’t look at the numbers. You look at how he was playing as a whole and I think it was a real growing year.

Mentally, as a defenceman, you’re always getting better. You always get better because you’re smarter.

On whether the expectations and hopes are maybe too high, too fast:

I think they’re really realistic in the coaches office and management group. I think they understand what they did and how far they got.

Everybody on the team had a career year and we had zero injuries. It’d be great if it happened again this year, but I think that’s not very realistic. You’re playing a sport where there are going to be injuries here and there. When that comes across, we’ll see how we go through it as a team. If we come through it with flying colours, we’re a good team. If we have a hiccup, we realize where we have to get better. That’s part of going into it. We know that. But I think it’s fun to go into it.

Talking to the guys after the year a week or two after, they wanted to get back and play again. They had so much fun playing in the playoffs. I think that was a great thing to make the playoffs and to see what it’s like to play in the NHL in the playoffs and especially to play in a market like this.

Eric Fehr heads into new season with ‘a lot of miles left (National Post)
“I did a few things differently,” the Winkler, Man., product, said of his off-season after a skate at the Iceplex here this week. “I won’t get into too much detail on it, but I feel really good. I feel strong on the ice, I feel quick and balanced. “I feel the best I’ve felt in a long time.”

Marleau eager to start life as a Leaf (Toronto Star)
“There’s something to be said about growing up in Canada, watching Hockey Night in Canada. The very first time I put the jersey on, I couldn’t get the smile off my face,” said Marleau. “I don’t know why. Just really exciting. I’m just trying to get settled right now. I can’t wait to get out there and meet everybody.”

Marleau excited for life as a Maple Leaf (TSN.ca)
“I want to get out there and see it up close,” he said. “Being on the west coast, you’re able to watch the games before your games, and it’s very exciting watching YouTube highlights of these guys. Everything everyone has been saying – you can see it. [They’re] fast, talented. Seeing the great young players, prospects, talking to Lou [Lamoriello], talking to Mike [Babcock]. Just how they feel about the group and where they see things going is why I’m here.”

Bowen: I see Matthews wearing the C for years to come (TSN1050)
Voice of the Maple Leafs on TSN 1050, Joe Bowen, joined Andi Petrillo, Gord Miller and Mike Johnson on Leafs Lunch to discuss the Leafs summer acquisitions, the poise of Auston Matthews on and off the ice and Frederik Andersen’s second year in Toronto.

Francois Allaire, goalie coach for Roy and Giguere, retires after 32 seasons (PHT)
Allaire also gets bonus points for being the target of Brian Burke’s ire during his Maple Leafs days. Allaire deserves credit for evolving his methods, yet at least some wondered if the game finally passed him by. “The position has evolved in the last three to five years,” Burke said in 2012, via the Toronto Star. “Nobody plays the classic stand-up anymore either. Everything advances.”

Another way Matthews helps the Leafs? How he gets off the ice (The Athletic)
In the 10 seconds after Tyler Bozak left the ice at 5-on-5 last year, the Leafs were outscored 4-1. They were outshot 59-24 and put up a 37.9 per cent Corsi percentage. Nazem Kadri had a similar problem. In the 10 seconds after he changed on the fly, the Leafs were outscored 3-0. They were outshot 57-39 and put up a 40.9 per cent Corsi percentage. Auston Matthews, on the other hand, was much different. In the 10 seconds after he left the ice, the Leafs outscored the opposition 3-2. They outshot them 47-35 and put up a 62.3 per cent Corsi percentage.

Maximizing lineup the next step for Maple Leafs (TSN.ca)
Brown has some obvious skills as an energy winger, but I think there’s an argument to be made that his style of play – and the fact that he’s still a pretty young player – lends itself better to the middle parts of the lineup. You can kind of see that manifest on his row. Notice how his Corsi% moves way up when playing with the likes of James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Nazem Kadri, and so on. I think you might have a situation here where Brown – when playing with Matthews – sees some really tough competition, and in those situations his effectivity is mitigated. And, in turn, Matthews’ isn’t the same type of player.

Andersen’s goals for Maple Leafs more than just making playoffs (Sportsnet)
Frederik Andersen spoke to the media about the new additions and what he expects to accomplish this coming season compared to last.

Craig’s List: Defenceman Dahlin leads draft class (TSN)
Dahlin, who represented Sweden in last year’s World Juniors at the age of 16, is a skilled 6-foot-2, 181-pound blueliner with a game that reminds me of Tampa Bay Lightning star Victor Hedman. Fellow Swedish defenceman Adam Boqvist, who plays for Brynas IF, is second on my list with a slick game patterned after Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson.