The Maple Leafs hit the ice in Niagara Falls for day one of on-ice training camp.
Mike Babcock on Aaltonen, Rosen, Borgman & Marleau’s fit next to Kadri (MLHS)
[Jim Paliafito] liked Aaltonen. I just was there to support him. They just send me the clips. I don’t see those guys live. They decide. But he’s a competitive guy. I was impressed with him today. He’s way quicker than I thought. Early in training camp, he didn’t look very quick to me. He always made plays and was always strong on the puck. Today, he was way quicker and more competitive. I was impressed by him today.
Lamoriello: This is an exciting time & we’re excited with our additions (TSN1050)
Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Lou Lamoriello joined Leafs Lunch live on location at The Gale Centre Arena in Niagara Falls during the Leafs first day on the ice.
On managing expectations for the young players:
It’s up to all of us who have been in the game a while and have been around as far as how meetings are held, how practices are, how you don’t allow any of the distractions to get in the way. You also remind them of what caused them to have success, whether it be yesterday or today. I’ve used the express, “If you leave here after the season and because you’ve had a little success, because you’re invited to go to events, and it gets in the way of whatever training you have to do, you’re in trouble.” That’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.
On how much discussion there was internally about naming a captain:
The only time it comes up is when you ask these questions. I’m not being facetious.
On bringing Polak in on a PTO and his odds of making the team:
I did smile, as you saw [when you asked the question], because what a tremendous human being he is. He is a man. He had a just awful [injury] and the work he’s done to get back – you know, he’s not back yet, but he wanted to come back. [There’s] respect you have to have for an individual there. It’s going to take a little time. He’s going to practice. He won’t be able to scrimmage right away. The doctors have not cleared him to play, but they’ve cleared him to work out and participate in drills and so forth. It’ll be a process. He’ll be given every opportunity. The smile on the veterans’ faces when they heard he was coming, and just the enthusiasm.
LeBrun: Leafs need to get a Nylander deal done before the season (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey Insider/The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun talked to Scott MacArthur about the importance of locking up William Nylander now, the Matt Duchene mess in Colorado, and David Pastrnak’s contract in Boston.
I think the onus right now is on the Toronto Maple Leafs to get Nylander done before the season starts. Frankly, the Nylander camp really doesn’t have a gun to its head. Here is the difference between Nylander and Pastrnak: Pastrnak has about 100 NHL games more under his belt, or 70-some odd games under his belt. He has an extra year of NHL pedigree under his belt; that counts for something. But that cuts two ways.
Had the Bruins signed Pastrnak a year ago — a year off from his deal expiring — they would’ve got him for less than $6.6M a year, but that’s the gamble. If I’m the Toronto Maple Leafs, I want to sign him now because I’ve seen enough, especially from the second half last year, that suggests I know what the numbers are for William Nylander this upcoming season. It’s just going to cost more and more.
Do it now, and do a sensible deal. From Nylander’s perspective, if I had to guess, their camp probably will want to put things on hold once the season starts. In other words, this is a fertile window right now. Once the season starts, I don’t really see them wanting it as a distraction for a young man. They’ll probably want to wait until closer to the end of the year.
From the Nylander perspective, you do the deal now if you understood the Toronto Maple Leafs have come at you and they’re saying, “We know what player you’re going to be and here is what we are offering.” You can get a deal done now, but — to me — there is more onus on the Leafs to get it done before another big year than there is on the Nylander camp.
Dreger: Ducks and Maple Leafs could discuss trade scenarios (TSN1050)
TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger joined Landsberg in the Morning to discuss Roman Polak signing a PTO with the Maple Leafs, which forwards could be on the move, Clarke MacArthur failing his medical in Ottawa, and more.
I’m not suggesting the Leafs are peddling, but I am looking at a team like Anaheim as an example. I know the Ducks would like to add a third-line forward. They’re aware, as all teams are, that Toronto seems to have an abundance. You never know; maybe there will be some talks.
McElhinney: I’m excited to be back with the Leafs (TSN1050)
Toronto Maple Leafs backup Curtis McElhinney joined Leafs Lunch live at the Gale Centre Arena during the Maple Leafs first day on the ice at training camp.
From Freddie, there was a lot of pressure coming in last year. He missed training camp, so he didn’t get to experience that whole thing. He was thrown into it. By the time I got here, I think he was hitting his stride and was really starting to feel it. He had really picked up his game. He’s in a good rhythm. I’m just trying to support him and do whatever I can. I’m there to push him and make sure he’s doing his job to the full ability. The bottom line is he’s comfortable being around; not necessarily to use me as a threat, but in a supportive role for what he’s trying to do and I’m trying to do out there.
Leafs embracing expectations they’ve created (Toronto Star)
“Teams know the Maple Leafs are serious now,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “We want to hang with the best and we certainly believe we can do that. You want to exceed your expectations as a team. You want to establish yourself and solidify yourself as one of the best teams in the league. That’s what we’re working towards. With the systems in place and the core guys we have on this team, we could make some noise.”
Babcock, Lamoriello temper expectations on Day 1 of Leafs camp (Toronto Sun)
Babcock coached some great teams in Detroit and Anaheim, but also thinks he knows what breeds complacency — a summer of travel, golf and leisure that distracts from what players were told in spring exit meetings. Babcock saw little of that, however, when he dropped by summer skates at the MasterCard Centre or watching last week’s rookie tournament. “What I’ve found is that the hungrier you are, the more you pursue knowledge,” the bench boss added.
Leafs have become a team that players are drawn to: Arthur (Toronto Star)
This is the year the Leafs make the turn, one way or the other. Either they become the team they think they can be — a hellacious mix of skilled speed up front with enough reasonable defenceman at the back in front of a goalie whose baseline workload is 60 games — or things go wrong, and they are thrown off track. That’s the range. These Leafs are stacked, and they know they’re stacked. Time to prove it.
How will the kids fare in Year 2? And what about Andersen and Marleau? (TSN)
Replacing Matt Hunwick with Ron Hainsey is the only major free-agent move the Leafs made to bolster their blueline in the off-season, which on the surface is not enough to say this group is better than it was a year ago, when Toronto gave up the seventh-most goals-against in the NHL at 5-on-5 (and the most by any team that made the playoffs). Even if Hainsey, coming off a Stanley Cup win in Pittsburgh last spring, finds the instant chemistry with Morgan Rielly that the team is hoping for and the two end up a solid top pairing, there are still questions about who will round out that six-man group beyond Rielly, Hainsey, Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev.
Leafs’ depth promises to keep pre-season interesting: Feschuk (Toronto Star)
More prosperity is much more likely. Stanley Cup contention seems closer at hand than a post-season miss. And that’s at least partly because the Leafs, thanks to a talent-procurement operation with a recent track record that ranks among the best in the game, have created sufficient depth to foster the kind of healthy internal competition that figures to keep complacency at bay.
Canadian teams can’t avoid higher expectation in wake of last year’s success (NP)
“The fans would like everything to happen right away,” said Babcock, speaking in his most calming voice. “We’re all like that. We need immediate gratification. That’s what the world is all about now. But usually, it’s not like that.” In other words, don’t count on the Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers meeting in the Stanley Cup final. That probably won’t happen until 2019. That is, unless Calgary and Ottawa or Winnipeg and Montreal beats them there first.
Connor Brown’s deal may be sign of things to come for Leafs (Sportsnet)
The key takeaway here is that Brown wanted to get something done well in advance of camp because he’s highly motivated to make things work. He senses a great opportunity with the Leafs and knows there’ll only be so much money and cap space to go around in the years ahead.