TORONTO, ON - DECEMBER 19: Mitch Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs reacts after a goal on the Carolina Hurricanes by teammate Patrick Marleau #12 during the third period at the Air Canada Centre on December 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

In the links, Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner discuss the addition of John Tavares to the Toronto Maple Leafs and the status of their contract extension talks.

Leafs Links

Auston Matthews discusses addition of John Tavares (TSN)
Auston Matthews met with the media at the Marner Assist Fund event and discussed the addition of John Tavares to the team as well as his ongoing contract negotiations.

On whether he played a role in the recruitment of John Tavares:

I gave him a call and talked to him on the phone one day. I think a lot of times, when you’re going through that kind of process, a lot of people are trying to reach out to you and trying to get into contact with you. It can get overwhelming sometimes. I just wanted to talk to him on the phone briefly and let him know we’d love to have him and that I think he’d be a great fit on our team. That was the gist of the conversation. Obviously, we’re extremely happy that he chose to sign with Toronto.

On whether he’s met Tavares before:

We met at the All Star Game. I met him a couple of times in the summer skating with Darryl Belfry. I know him a little bit. Obviously, he’s a guy who takes his craft extremely seriously. He has been one of the premiere players in the NHL since he’s been in the league. If you can get a player of that calibre on the roster, it takes us to another level.

On the potential captaincy decision:

I’m not the one making the decisions, right? In the end, I think Kyle, Babs and everybody is just kind of preaching patience. They’ll figure all of that stuff out. In the end, that is kind of up to them. That is not something I focus on too much. I just focus on getting better myself and playing hockey and having fun.

On how often he’s not been the captain of his team:

A lot. I usually played up [in age groups] growing up. I was kind of the younger guy on the team. It’s kind of tough to hand a guy who is two or three years younger than everyone else the captaincy. I was the assistant captain at the national team. As far as that goes, that’s about it.

On what the addition of Tavares provides for the team:

It gives us a lot of depth, obviously, when you’ve got three guys with that amount of talent and that amount of skill [down the middle]. I think it causes a lot of matchup problems for the other team. We’re extremely excited to have John. He makes our team a lot better. It’s another step toward reaching our ultimate goal.

On potentially playing with Patrick Marleau on his wing, as Mike Babcock has hinted:

I’m excited about it. Patty and I are really close. He’s been in the league for so long and he’s such a smart player. For his age, he still skates like the wind. He put up really good numbers as of last year. He’s a guy that can finish. To be able to play with a guy of his calibre and what he can do on the ice – his resume speaks for itself – it’s pretty exciting for myself.

On his meeting with Mike Babcock after the playoffs ended:

I think it was just a discussion. I think you guys look too much into it. It probably would have been a little bit better if it wasn’t so out in the public. The conversation went well. Obviously, you move on from it and you go forward. Both of us hope to be here for a long time and move forward and continue to take steps.

On Lou Lamoriello’s departure from the organization and the promotion of Kyle Dubas to GM:

Lou drafted me. I got to know him over the course of the two years. He’s a great person. He did so much for this organization. Everybody is very thankful just to be around a guy of his resume – already a Hall of Famer. Pretty sad about him leaving, but you bring in a guy like Kyle Dubas and his plan and his vision and everything he wants to accomplish, it’s very exciting. Obviously, you wish Lou the best. My sisters loved him and my parents loved him. They were really close. It’s always sad to see a guy like him leave the organization, but I think everyone is really excited about Kyle Dubas.

On whether contract negotiations are underway:

They’ve obviously started. That’s not really something that I am too into. I kind of let my agent and management handle that. I focus on my summer and focus on training and getting on the ice and feeling ready for the season.

On whether a contract will get done before the season starts:

I don’t know. They preach patience, obviously, Kyle and my agent, and my team. When it gets done, it gets done. I don’t think anyone is in too big of a rush.

Marner discusses playing with Tavares, taking on more of a leadership role (TSN)
At his Marner Assist Fund event, Mitch Marner discusses potentially playing on John Tavares’ wing, taking on more of a leadership role in the room, and more.

On the addition of Tavares:

It’s amazing to hear that he wanted to come to our team. It’s very exciting for our team. We’re young, so a player of his calibre to choose us over any other [team] is incredible. We’re all excited to have him on our team. It adds a lot of depth to our centermen that are already very deep. Regardless of what line you play on, you have the potential to be successful.

On the captaincy:

The older guys in the room all lead by example, and the young guys are just trying to learn from that and trying to get better. The captain’s role is not a players’ debate. The coach and the GM will make that decision, but player wise, I don’t think it matters who has the letter on their jersey. We are all going to be leaders in different ways, and that’s the good thing about our team.

On taking on more of a leadership role himself:

I want to be kind of taken more seriously, I guess you could say. I obviously love the jokes about getting called a five and six year old. I find it very amusing and funny. But I obviously want to get taken a little bit more seriously now in the room and I’m taking it more upon myself. I think all young guys do. We want to put more pressure on ourselves to be better every single night. Going forward, that’s what we’re going to have to do.

On the status of a potential contract extension:

I’m just kind of staying out of it and letting Kyle and my agent talk about it. I’m just focused on trying to get stronger and faster this summer time. If something comes along, something comes along. I’m not focused on it too much. Just leave it to those two to talk. If something gets done, something gets done. If not, it’s another hockey season to go in and work. I want to play for this team for a long time. In saying that, I just let those two talk and I stay in the background and keep working.

On potentially playing on John Tavares’ wing, like Babcock has hinted:

He’s a high skill talent. Regardless of who you play with on his team now – and the years before… the past two years, our four lines have been very deep, I think. Regardless of what line you play on, you can still put points up. I’m just more focusing on making sure I’m playing smarter with the puck this year and that when opportunities come, I’m shooting a little more. At the end of the year, I kind of got more into a shooting role. I know that JT is very good at making plays and hitting people when they’re open.

van Riemsdyk not bitter about departure from Toronto (TSN)
JVR attended Mitch Marner’s charity fund launch event and discussed his departure from Toronto and his new team in Philadelphia.

On the “no hard feelings” outcome after leaving the Leafs:

The best part of that for me was the Leafs were pretty up front before free agency started about what their plans were. That was good for me just emotionally, to kind of deal with that and go into it looking at things more objectively in free agency. I think I found a great situation for myself and I’m really excited about it.

Maple Leafs add Tavares, eye deep playoff run (
Mike Zeisberger’s season preview for the Leafs projects Nazem Kadri in between Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen on the third line in behind a top six of Hyman – Tavares – Marner / Marleau – Matthews – Nylander.

Top 25 Under 25: The case for Riley Stotts (PPP)
Said Calgary Hitmen beat writer, Tyler Lowey: “The thing that interested me was that the first game in Calgary, they moved him [Stotts] over to center and even though he played center in the past — growing up and in bantam — but he wasn’t playing much center in Swift Current. He did a little bit, but not as much as he did in Calgary. He was great in the faceoff, though that’s probably still an area he still needs to improve on. He was usable and workable at the faceoff position, and really took off… power play guy, penalty shot guy, killed penalties and all-around player.”

Dominic Moore not expecting to return to the Leafs (
“I’m not holding out hope on that,” Moore said. “I think obviously they will be an exciting team to follow this year for sure. Obviously adding John to the program is an amazing piece to an already impressive puzzle there.”